Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lotus Lantern Festival

This blog is a bit late. And by a bit, I mean like several weeks. Back in May, before I went to Busan, I went to the Lotus Lantern Festival here in Seoul. It is a Buddhist festival to celebrate Buddha's birthday (I think), but basically there are a TON of lanterns hung around and a parade of gigantic lanterns. So, after some delicious Mexican food at Vatos in Itaewon, my friend Romeo and I went to the festival.

We ended up arriving in the area around 8:30pm, and we were a little worried we had maybe missed everything. Regardless, we wandered around until we found some lanterns that looked interesting. There was a long tunnel-like archway with lanterns hung from the top in lots of different designs. It was pretty cool, but some looked like kids made them (and who knows, maybe kids DID make them!)

We were looking for some lanterns to "use" aka walk around with to look cool, and some other foreigners who were leaving gave us theirs. So, we headed to where all the Koreans looked to be going, and saw a massive "roof" of lanterns hung in rows over a large square. It looked like a party was going on, so we went over to check it out.
Note: The swastika is actually a Buddhist symbol for some life force, NOT a Nazi symbol. 

After worming out way up through the crowd to get a look, we saw that it was a bunch of Korean women in traditional dress ("hanboks"), dancing to some Korean music. They were actually really good, although having no prior knowledge to what Korean traditional dance looks like, it could have been horrible. Regardless, they were in sync and smiling, so it looked good to me. We watched that performance for a little while, then walked over to a big temple that I guess the whole festival was probably centered around. I say that because there were 3 massive gold Buddhas inside, and lots of people inside worshipping.

We didn't go inside, because we could see through the open air window/doors easily enough. They were fairly impressive, although gold statues don't do it for me. :) Then we headed toward ANOTHER tunnel of lanterns. This one was different, though, because the roof AND walls were lined in lanterns. This one had all matching lanterns that were white and lit inside with little light bulbs that change color.  I was convinced that they turned green but Romeo kept saying that I was color blind and it was really blue. I tried to take a photo and of course, it looks more blue in the photo... But I promise it was green!

After that, we saw some people in costumes dancing in a circle (not coordinated like the women in Hanboks), and we jumped in and danced around like idiots for a little while. It was fun to be crazy for a minute. :)

Once we got on the street again, we saw the parade starting to go by us. There were some fun floats, and we saw some woman on a Lotus flower float that looked like Miss Korea or something.

The last photo of the dragon was pretty cool. There were like 50 people inside and the guys working the head were funny, laughing and posing for around 500 photos.

All in all, it was a really fun night, seeing some more Korean culture and a unique event. I was absolutely exhausted when we took the subway home; I even fell asleep for a minute standing up, until a kind man gave me his seat.

Oh, and Happy June! It's finally summer here in Seoul and I'm loving it! I managed to keep my AC off until June 1, so that was a success! :D


  1. So fun and beautiful and EXOTIC! Love it, so cool you can do this kind of thing! Enjoy....

  2. Such fun. Glad you're out amongst the people. Thanks for sharing your Adventures.


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