Welcome Daehakro Festival & More: It's Time to Experience More of Korea

From Cultural Experiences to National Events: 6 Festivals to Experience Korean Culture

Are you ready to immerse yourself in even more cultural wonders?

Dreaming of your next South Korean holiday — in the wondrous, calming landscape that is the autumn season? Find out about the must-visit Daehakro Festival happening at the same time; including other festivals for a truly enriching holiday.

Make your Korean holiday dreams come true at Korea Tourism Organization Singapore’s physical travel fair, happening from 12–14 May 2023 at Our Tampines Hub!

Get in touch with travel agencies and regional tourism organisations, who will give you the best advice towards making your dream trip come true.

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What is the Welcome Daehakro Festival about?

If you’re already in Seoul and have time to spare, make your way to the annual Autumn festival! 

In the lively Daehakro (aka Daehangno) area, every autumn is rung in with a cultural festival featuring various genres of Korean performances. For three months, visitors get a glimpse of Korean culture through traditional performances, nonverbal performances, musicals, plays, and more. 

Since 2017, the festival has been embraced by both locals and tourists alike. The ultimate goal? By popularising Korean performances to the world, event organisers hope to make the event a significant performance tourism festival destination in Asia.

Why is the festival held at Daehakro?

When in Korea, no place witnesses as much gathering of historically and culturally popular sites, trendy cafes and bars, indie shops, and outdoor musical and theatre performances as Daehakro does. 

Naturally, this 1.6km-long area has been designated as a site of cultural significance. Plus, the road operates as a car-free zone on weekends, allowing for these performances to take centre stage. 

Why should I visit the Welcome Daehakro Festival?

Put simply, it’s a must-visit event for any art and cultural buff — and a perfect way to learn even more about Korean culture. (Nope, it’s not just K-Pop.) 

So yes, while food is the perfect way to introduce yourself to any culture, nothing beats gaining insight by attending an event that — quite literally — celebrates all things cultural. 

What can I do at the Welcome Daehakro Festival?

Things to see & do at the festival

Like any festival or event, each Welcome Daehakro Festival is celebrated with an Opening Ceremony. At the WELCOME ROAD SHOW, expect an exciting parade with dance, circus, Taekwondo, and traditional performances; as well as special Korean guest star appearances!

Coming here for musicals, comedy shows, plays, and nonverbal performances? Look for the WELCOME THEATER programmes, which will witness consecutive performances at a single theatre. For example, the 2022 festival saw a Marionnette musical (among others) happening at Seokyeong University Performing Arts Center.

Welcome Daehakro Festival

Image credit: Wei-Te Wong

The WELCOME PLUS catalogue features musicals and plays happening at various venues during the festival. These include JTN Art Hall, Batanggol Theater, Seoul Arts Center, and more. Also, look out for the WELCOME FRINGE street performers happening throughout the duration of the festival. 

Want to experience more of Korean culture but unable to attend the festival in-person? WELCOME K-STAGE features online performances, like the famous Le Petit Prince musical!

Feeling overwhelmed by which performance or venue to see first at Welcome Daehakro Festival? Conducted in English, the WELCOME DAEHAKRO TOUR will first introduce you to the history and significance of Daehakro, before the guide brings you to the area’s famous spots, theatres, and streets. 

You can also opt for the self-guided tour instead by downloading the 스탬프투어 (Stamp Tour) app.

Things to eat

Of course, along with the vibrant air of the festival are Daehakro’s popular eateries serving Instagrammable, mouth-watering food options. 

Korean staples like bibim guksu (cold noodles), KBBQ, seafood, fried chicken are guaranteed, along with comforting dishes like budae jjigae (Korean army stew) and Alaskan pollock stew to keep you warm in the autumn and winter months.

Other things to see & do around Daehakro

And since you’re already in Daehakro, you might as well discover what else makes it the art and cultural hub of Korea. Aside from Daehakro’s performance venues, be sure to check out ARKO Art Center, an institution housing experimental works by emerging artists. 

Image credit: stockinasia via Canva Pro

For a break from the festival, walk along the nearby Ihwa Mural Village. This network of alleys features vibrant mosaics and paintings that will make a worthy addition to the ’Gram. Not to mention, a hike up Naksan Park will lead you to a breathtaking vantage point of the greater Seoul area.

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More festivals in Korea to look forward to

Apart from the Welcome Daehakro Festival, these other festivals across the country lend you a glimpse into different aspects of Korean culture.  

1. Andong Maskdance Festival

festivals in korea

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

Far away from the city rush lies Andong, a culturally significant city home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hahoe Folk Village (aka Andong Hahoe Village). Autumn sees the attraction painted in lovely warm colours, where visitors arrive for its ceremonial and traditional folk experiences. 

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organisation

In particular, the Andong Maskdance Festival — which takes place in late September — aims to spotlight mask dance performances, an Intangible Cultural Heritage element of Korea. Aside from Hahoe Byeolsingut Tal-nori (ritualistic mask dance) and mask dances from around the world, be sure to stay for the main event: the Tal-nori Daedongnanjang parade. Don’t be surprised if the troupes invite you to dance together wearing various masks! 

Spend the rest of your time here playing folk games and making your own mask to bring home as a souvenir. Or, go one step further on your culturally enriching day by staying a night at the hanok rooms available onsite. 

Fun fact: Hahoe Folk Village houses an actual community — the descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan — who work to preserve the grounds. 

2. Gimje Horizon Festival

festivals in korea

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

1.5 hours away from the traditional city of Jeonju lies Gimje’s Byeokgolje Reservoir, where the Gimje Horizon Festival will take place. 

From 5–9 Oct 2023, the Gimje Horizon Festival will honour rice — and in turn, the tradition of agriculture. These practices are recognised as a local speciality of Gimje, and the city turns into an autumnal landscape at this time of year — making for the perfect backdrop to celebrate the festival.

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

The festivities are held at Byeokgolje Reservoir, at the centre of which stands huge twin dragon sculptures made of bamboo. Visitors can explore the various booths and try their hand at harvesting rice, threshing, and cooking rice in a furnace. Plus, by catching grasshoppers and riding an ox cart, visitors will be experiencing — first-hand — what rural activities of the past were like! Of course, there’ll also be stalls selling various foods made from Gimje’s farm produce.

3. Boryeong Mud Festival

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

Every summer, the coast of Boryeong at Daecheon Beach comes alive with the Boryeong Mud Festival. Happening from 21 Jul–6 Aug this year, the festival aims to celebrate the mineral-dense Boryeong mud that flourishes at Daecheon.

What started as a muddy beach that was considered dirty (up till the 1990s) soon became acknowledged instead as the city’s unique feature. Through research, Boryeong mud was found to be full of natural minerals that promote plenty of skin and health benefits. 

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Jeong Sung-joo

Held in 1994, Daecheon Natural Mud Massage House was the first event to celebrate this phenomenon. Largely attended by foreigners and becoming a huge success as a result, this event led to the birth of the Boryeong Mud Festival! 

With the festival growing and developing into Korea’s best festival (designated by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism), the festival is now Boryeong’s — and the greater Chungnam area’s — chief selling point in the summer. It is a cultural and tourism festival attended by locals and tourists alike, with participants transcending nationality, race, and age.

This year will celebrate the 26th instalment of the Boryeong Mud Festival. Be entertained by the mud busking and open stage performances by local cultural artists. Stay after sundown for the beach special stage performance, which will see a spectacle of nighttime festival performers before rounding off with a fireworks display!

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Kim Jiho

Feel the benefits of mud on your skin at the various experiential zones at the festival. From a mud war (using mud water guns) game to a mud experience zone with three themes including course type, general experience type, and streamlined slides, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Daecheon Beach this summer! 

4. Suncheonman International Garden Expo 2023

festivals in korea

Image credit: ST_travel via Canva Pro

Usher in the tranquil, warmer weathers of spring and summer at one of the country’s largest and most spectacular gardens: Suncheon Bay National Garden. With about 860,000 trees and 650,000 autumn flowers such as roses, sunflowers, and cosmos flowers planted here, it’s easy to see why the Suncheonman International Garden Expo 2023 is one of the most anticipated events this year! 

From now till 31 Oct 2023, ready your cameras for the World Garden Theme Exhibition (featuring blooms from 27 countries) and the 55 gardens spread across four fields. Then, occupy your time here with the host of programmes like exhibitions, experiences, markets, tours, and the celebration of national events.

5. 2024 Winter Youth Olympics

Also known as Gangwon 2024, the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics will be happening in the snowy landscape of Gangwon. Gangwon 2024 will see 1,900 youth athletes competing in 81 events like snowboarding, skiing, and ice hockey. 

With the event taking place from 19 Jan–1 Feb 2024, why not book a holiday during this time? Beyond experiencing the typical Gangwon winter activities, you’ll also get to watch the sporting events, the Opening Ceremony, visit the cultural booths at Pyeongchang and Gangneung, and much more! 

6. World Expo 2030 Busan

World Expo 2030 Busan

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

Though still in the pipeline, World Expo 2030 Busan is the nation’s most anticipated event. With the main theme of “Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future,” this World Fair will aim to address unprecedented global challenges of the climate crisis, the pandemic, and the digital divide brought about by developments in technology and the economy.

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization

Why Busan, you may ask? Situated at the heart of Korean transformation, Busan is the country’s second-largest city, and has been a hub of economic development, transportation, and logistics. This thriving metropolis sees 40 million tourists visiting every year, and has already played host to large-scale international events such as the Asian Games in 2002 and the APEC Summit in 2005.

All that’s left to do? Choose which Korean festival to attend, and start planning your next trip to the Land of the Morning Calm. 

Along with the physical travel fair is Korea Tourism Organization Singapore’s online travel fair, happening from now till 14 May 2023

18 travel agencies, regional tourism organisations, and airlines will be here to help make your dream trip come true. Plus, there are plenty of packages and deals to look forward to!

Plan your South Korea holiday

Brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore). 

About Author

Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.