7 Epic Winter Festivals in South Korea This Season for Fun Snow Activities, Winter Street Food & More!

7 Epic Winter Festivals in South Korea This Season for Fun Snow Activities, Winter Street Food & More!

Mark your calendars this winter, folks!

As the temperatures plummet during South Korea’s winter months, the country comes to life with exceptionally cool winter festivals that sprout across the country.

Snow wall climbing, ice fishing, ziplining over ice, traditional sledding, snowy ATV rides and even ice bowling: these are just the mere icing on the cake when it comes to all the exciting snowy attractions you can dive into during Korea’s epic winter festivals.

Whether you’re ziplining over stunning icy landscapes at Pyeongchang Trout Festival, trying your luck at bare-handed ice fishing at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, or tucking into quintessentially Korean winter street food like warm roasted cashews and sweet potatoes, Korea’s exciting winter festivals are a great way to enjoy the snow.

1. Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

With over 1 million visitors each year, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is often touted as one of the world’s biggest winter festivals. It’s no surprise why throngs of tourists continue to return every year. You’ll be spoiled for choice with an array of activities that include figure skating, bobsleighing, mountain trout fishing on ice, ice sledding, ice soccer, and even a larger-than-life snow castle and snow park.

Like many other quintessentially Korean winter festivals, ice fishing is a main attraction here. You’ll find festival-goers patiently waiting with their fishing lines on the icy surface for a fresh catch. To celebrate their prized catch, you’ll even find some visitors even bizarrely biting into the head of their trout. No doubt, the festival is certainly one worth making the trip down for. After all, where else will you ever experience bare-handed fishing in the middle of winter?

Dates: 5 to 27 January 2019

Venue: Hwacheoncheon Stream, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do

Entrance fee: Refer to the official website for details.

Opening hours: 09:00 to 19:00

Website

2. Pyeongchang Trout Festival

With its breathtaking snow-laden landscapes, it’s no surprise why Pyeongchang has rightfully earned its moniker, “the Alps of Korea”. Every year, it hosts an outdoor trout festival at the Odaecheon Stream, where visitors will get to try their hands on a slew of fun winter activities like ATV, traditional ice sledding, snow rafting, bumper rail rides (which comes accompanied with equally entertaining comments from the ride personnel), ice skating, and of course, trout fishing.

This year’s theme is “A Winter Story of Snow, Ice, and Trout”. You’ll find the freshly caught trout being served in scrumptious dishes in restaurants in proximity to the festival. Great views, scrumptious food, and an endless array of seriously cool activities – what’s not to love?

Dates: Between December 2018 to February 2019

Venue: Odaecheon Stream, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do

Entrance fee & opening Hours: Refer to the official website for details.

Website

3. Hongcheon River Ginseng Trout Festival

Thousands of tourists flock to the frozen Hongcheon River every year for a chance to catch the special “ginseng trout” — named so because they’re fed with the six-year-old Hongcheon Ginseng, widely lauded for its medicinal value.

The festival also boasts other attractions like the Snow World, charming views of surrounding thatched cottages, and innumerable traditional Korean restaurants you can grab a bite at. And if you’re brave enough, you’ll also get to give bare-handed trout fishing a go — just be sure to keep your hands warm and toasty after!

Dates: 4 to 20 January 2019

Venue: Hongcheongang River, Hongcheon-gun, Gangwon-do

Entrance fee & opening hours: Refer to the official website for details.

Website

4. Busan Christmas Tree Festival

A towering 18-meter tall Christmas tree, vibrant festive lights, as well as electric street performances: these are just a few noteworthy highlights you can look forward to in the annual Busan Christmas Tree Festival. With the echoes of Christmas carols in the background, cultural performances from NANTA and plenty of choir songs, it’s the perfect way to soak up the holiday spirit in Busan.

Before the year draws to an end, be sure to make a wish at their famous Wishing Tree, snap a photo for keepsake at the Christmas Lights Photo Zone, or get your groove on at their festive flash mob. It certainly starts to look a lot like Christmas come winter in Busan.

Dates: November 2018 to January 2019

Venue: 88, Gwangbok-ro, Jung-gu, Busan

Entrance fee: Free

Opening hours: Refer to the official website for details.

Website

5. Inje Icefish Festival

As the Soyangho Lake freezes over during Korea’s winter months, the festival fun begins. The Inje Icefish Festival, held annually at the Soyangho Lake in the mountainous town in the Gangwon province, offers visitors the chance to enjoy nearly 30 uniquely winter-exclusive activities.

Take your pick from ice wall climbing, ice sledding, hoop rolling, and — get this — ice soccer and ice bowling. And if all the wintry fun gets you peckish, tuck into the smorgasbord of food options. Be sure to try the famous ‘icefish’ as well while you’re at it!

Dates: 19 to 27 January 2019

Venue: Injedaegyo Bridge, Nam-myeon, Inje-gun, Gangwon-do

Entrance fee: Free

Opening hours: Refer to the official website for details.

Website

6. Taebaeksan Snow Festival

Held every winter amidst the snowy peaks of the Taebaeksan Mountain, the Taebaeksan Snow Festival boasts of impressive ice sculptures designed by artists, as well as an adorable snowman festival that’s bound to put a smile on yours and your little one’s faces. Sink your teeth into their traditional winter games, pit your skills at a snow climbing contest, or marvel at the handiwork behind their international snow sculpture exhibition.

Dates: 13 to 22 January 2019

Venue: Taebaeksan National Park, Gangwon-do

Entrance fee: Free

Opening hours: Refer to the official website for details.

Website

7. Jaraseom Singsing Winter Festival

Just an hour’s drive from Seoul in the Gapyeong district is the Jaraseom Singsing Winter Festival. You’ll find an eclectic mix of vendors selling everything you could possibly need from fishing poles and gloves and hats to piping hot street food and drinks. If you’re traveling with kids, there are sledding hills that your older children will love and festival rides for your younger ones.

Be sure to try your luck at ice fishing — even if you don’t come away with a fresh catch, it’s quite an amusing experience watching your little one patiently anticipating theirs! And if you do luck out, enjoy your catch at the grills and sashimi stands available across the festival.

Dates: 14 December 2018 to 17 February 2019

Venue: Gapyeongcheon Stream area in Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do

Entrance fee: 17,000 won/person (inc. a gift certificate worth 5,000 won)

Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00

Website

 

For more information on Korea’s truly epic and fun winter festivals, visit Korea Tourism Organization’s official website and Facebook page.


Brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore Office).

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Sarah Khan
Sarah Khan

Loves travel, food and her (mildly obese) flat-faced exotic shorthair Khan Solo.

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