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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Marching into Spring

After a long, cold winter, the peninsula is springing to life (see what I did there?) with festivals. Celebrate the returning warmth and colour and explore the area at the same time.


Flower Festivals:

The Cherry Blossom gets all the press, but don’t overlook these other beautiful trees! The first blossoms of the spring are the Apricot trees, and there are several Festivals being held in their honour:

Jeju Hueree Maehwa (Apricot) Flower Festival is being held from Feb 20 to Mar 10.  Held at the Seogwipo Hueree Natural Park, this festival isn’t just about blossoms. There’s also a black pig show and a goose show! How can you miss that? Jejudo can be reached by airplane, from the Ulsan Airport, or by ferry from the Busan Domestic Ferry Terminal. From Jeju City, you can take a bus to Seogwipo.

Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival also celebrates apricot blossoms from March 23-31. Seomjin Village in beautiful Jeollanamdo plays host to this festival. The village is home to the largest number of apricot trees in Korea. There are buses to Gwangyang Terminal, and from there, take a taxi or shuttle bus into Seomjin. The official website is only in Korean.

If you prefer to celebrate the blooming of the apricot trees with music, then check out the Ttangkkeut Maehwa Festival, at the Bohae Plum Farm (not apricot farm?) in Haenam-gun, Jeollanamdo. While the site hasn’t been updated for this year’s festival yet, last year’s boasted a wide range of music from traditional Korean folk to b-boys and rock, and included both Filipino and Chinese performances. It looks to be one of the few festivals I’ve come across that recognizes and celebrates Koreas blossoming multiculturalism. From the Haenam Bus Terminal, take a local bus bound for Sani-myeon (산이면) and get off at Bohae Plum Farm (보해매실농원; Bohae Maesil Nongwon).

Jeollanamdo is also home to the Gurye Sansuyu Festival, which seems to celebrate the yellow Cornus flower. Held in the Jirisan Hot Springs area on March 29-31, this festival mixes music and cornus fruit alcohol. From the Gurye Bus Terminal, take the Gurye-Jungdong (구례-중동), Gurye-Wolgye (구례-월계), Gurye-Namwon (구례-남원), or Gurye-Hwaeomsa Temple (구례-화엄사) route bus to Jungdong (중동). The Jirisan Mountain Hot Springs area is located 300m from the Jungdong bus stop. The official site is in Korean only.

And nominated for Festival Most in Need of a New Name, the Seogwipo Rape Flower International Walking Festival is taking place this March. Walking through fields of canola flowers, along the sea side, through the Jeju Sculpture Park, this sounds like one of the most picturesque festivals yet. The official site is only in Korean.

Tired of all the pretty flowers? Try the Jeju Field Burning Festival instead! On from March 8-10, it’s a tradition to pray for health and a good harvest in the coming year. It’s not all about burning stuff, though. There’s also folk games and other traditions, such as straw-rope tug of war, and a “lucky pig herding competition”. It’s held in the Saebyeol Oreum area on Jejudo. Check out the program of events on their official website (in English!).

Closer to home, check out the Tongyeong International Music Festival, in Gyeongsangnamdo from March 23-29. This festival focuses on orchestral music. Check out their website for more information (though the site doesn’t look like it’s been recently updated).

And finally, a last vestige of winter is the Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival, held from March 28-April 1. This is your chance to eat a food formerly eaten only by royalty. You can also take a cruise on a crab boat (probably not as scary as Deadliest Catch). It’s held in the town of Ganggu, in the Gangguhang Park area. While their official site has an English button, I kept getting an error message when I tried it.