I remember the first ever Seoul Lantern Festival held in November. The lines were so long it took us almost two hours to get in. After that first time, I made sure to visit on a weekday to avoid the long queues. Seoul Lantern Festival 2016 is now ongoing until November 20th at the Cheonggyecheon stream.
The Seoul Lantern Festival has a theme and this year’s is about Hangang River ~ from the neolithic era until the present day. The entrance to the exhibit is located at Cheonggye Plaza near the fountain ~ and from there the story of Hangang begins.
When I visited today, November 5th, there was no line at all. The people were busy congregating at a rally in Gwanghwamun. I got in fairly easy and I was able to take photos freely without anyone blocking my view.
The story the lanterns convey are posted on the boards in both Korean and English. As mentioned, it tells of how Koreans from the stone age used Hangang river as a source of food and as an important part of the history of the country. It tells the story of how Baekje dynasty came to the southern part of the peninsula. That through the centuries, Hangang was used by ancient Koreans to trade goods with different cultures. And just more than 60 years ago, the bridge connecting the capital Hanyang to the southern part was ruined during the Korean War. And that there are currently 27 bridges connecting Gangbuk (or the northern part of Seoul) to Gangnam (the southern part of the city).
If you have time, don’t miss the Seoul Lantern Festival 2016. It is best to visit in the evening when they are lit beautifully and the lights reflect on the stream ~
To get to the Seoul Lantern Festival 2016, take line 1 to Seoul City hall and exit at gate 5 or take line 5 to Gwanghwamun station and get out from exit 5. Cheonggye Plaza is just a short walk from there.
There is no entrance fee ~ just make sure to wear warm clothes and comfy shoes.