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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

June Festivals around Korea

By Deirdre Madden

There is so much to do this summer, you won’t have enough weekends to fit it all in!

Here are the highlights (in my humble opinion) from the Korean Tourism sites’ festival listings.

Now – August 12, 2012: Gwangyang World Art Circus Festival

Located in Jeollanam-do, Gwangyang is cashing in on the flow of visitors to the nearby Yeosu World Expo, by offering this interesting look at international circuses. Performers from the US, UK, Spain, Slovakia, China and, of course, Korea will be putting on shows ranging from 90-120 minutes, and showcasing the different circus-arts from their home countries. Tickets range in price according to seating area, from 25,000 – 99,000 won for adults, 20,000-79,000 won for youth, and 13,000-79,000 for kids over 3. No babies, please.

To get there, take an intercity bus to the Dong-Gwangyang Terminal, then local buses 99, 99-1 or 999 to the venue, which is just behind the International Ferry Passenger Terminal at Gwangyang Port.

For more info, check out their website.

Now – June 27, 2012 – Gangneung Danoje Festival

Head north to Gangwan-do to experience “A Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” as deemed by UNESCO in 2005, or “Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 13” as designated by the Korean government in 1967. This festival celebrates traditional rural rituals, and showcases Ssireum wrestling (similar to Sumo in Japan) along with other traditional games. From what I could gather from scanning their website, there’s traditional alcohol and some sort of giant bonfire. If that doesn’t spell good times, then I don’t know what does! Admission to the festival is free.

Take a bus to the Gangneung Bus Terminal, then taxi to the site.

For more info, check out their website, here.

There is also a Dano festival in Seoul, which involves a lot of the same sorts of things. Check the tourism page here for more info.

June 12-20, 2012 – If you’re into more natural spectacles, try the Muju Firefly Festival, in Jeollabuk-do. These fireflies have actually been named a Natural Monument, so they must be quite the sight to see. The Firefly Festival includes an evening-time Firefly Exploration (adults 5,000 won, kids 3,000), catching trout with your bare hands (adults 10,000won, kids 5,000) and rafting on the Namdaecheon (adults 3,000 won, kids 2,000).

Take a bus to Muju Intercity Bus Terminal. Then I imagine, taxi to the site, but the website doesn’t really say.

June 15 – July 9 – Daegu International Musical Festival – If you love musical theatre, then this is the festival for you! A variety of shows are being performed throughout Daegu. Check out the Korea Tourism site here, for more info, or try the DIMF website. The English site wasn’t working on my computer, but that may be because I use a Mac/Firefox and can’t access many Korean Internet Explorer-based sites. The Korean site was working perfectly, though.

June 22-24 – Gwangju Toechon Tomato Festival – You’ve seen photos from the famous La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, Spain, where people literally paint the town (and themselves) red with tomato juice. Well, here’s your chance to do the same, right here in Korea. The Gwangju Toechon Tomato Festival (Korean only) celebrates the regions’ tomato growing with plenty of tomato-related activities, including giant splash pools of tomatoes for people to throw themselves into. See here for more info.

From the Gwangju Intercity Bus Terminal, take city bus 35-21, 35-24, 35-8 or 38-4 and hop off at Jeongji 2-ri

That’s most of the festivals happening in June. Stay tuned for more fun in July, including Ulsan’s own “Shipbuilding and Sea Festival” out at Ilsan Beach, and, of course, the internationally acclaimed MudFest in Boryeong.