Travel Highlights

Say Goodbye to the Chill at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

  • Tag Event Food Tour
  • Date11/27/2017
  • Hit51412

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival scene (Credit: Nara Foundation)

The best region to enjoy winter is Korea is definitely Gangwon-do. When Hwacheoncheon Stream, located in Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do freezes in winter, locals and tourists alike flock to the stream, carve out a hole in the ice, and begin ice fishing for sancheoneo (Masou salmon). The trout are known to live only in high quality fresh waters. The excitement of fishing in the cold is so great that some visitors even choose to jump into the icy waters of a pool built beside the stream wearing shorts and a tee-shirt for barehanded fishing. The plethora of fun activities with snow and ice have made Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival one of the ultimate winter activities for the whole family to enjoy!

Sancheoneo Fishing

Sancheoneo fishing is the main activity at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. There are three ways for visitors to fish at the festival: ice fishing on the frozen stream, lure fishing in the flowing waters, and bare-hand fishing in a pool. In addition, visitors can take the fish they have caught to be served fried or in raw slices for a fee in the food centers.

Ice fishing & barehanded fishing

Barehanded fishing (top) & ice fishing (bottom) (Credit (all): Nara Foundation)

Barehanded fishing is perhaps the most exciting activity at the festival. This style of fishing is perfect for visitors who find the long motionless wait on the ice boring, or aren’t afraid of a little cold. Registration is a simple process on-site, and each participant is given a festival tee-shirt and shorts to change into. There are also separate events for women and children so everyone can enjoy catching their own fish. After the event is over, participants may thaw out their feet with a warm foot bath.

If you don’t feel up to the challenge, you can always enjoy ice fishing on Hwacheoncheon Stream. This is the most representative event of the festival, taking place on ice that is at least 30cm thick. The festival also prepares an exclusive section of ice for the use of international visitors to increase their odds of catching fish.

  • ☞ Barehanded fishing
  • - Operating period: January 6-28, 2018
  • - Operating time: Five rounds on weekdays 11:00-15:00 (Registration 10:00-14:00) / Seven rounds on weekends 10:00-16:00 (Registration 09:00-15:00)
  • - Registration: Begins on-site one hour before each round (Max. of 60 participants per round)
  • - Fee: 8,000 won for non-Koreans (Standard fee 12,000 won)
  • - Venue: Beneath Baemeorigyo Bridge
  • - Participation rules: Limited to 3 fish per person / Time limit of 3 min. / Must wear uniform (Provided on-site)
  • ☞ Ice fishing
  • - Operating period: January 6-28, 2018
  • - Operating time: Weekdays 09:00-18:00 (Registration 08:30-17:00) / Weekends 08:30-18:00 (Registration 08:00-17:00)
  • - Fee: 8,000 won for non-Koreans (Standard fee 12,000 won)
  • - Venue: Downstream from Chulleong Bridge (foreigner-exclusive zone)
  • - Participation rules: Limited to 3 fish per person / Windbreakers, tents, and heating devices prohibited on the ice
  • - What to bring: Fishing pole/reel, metal lure, small chair, blanket, etc. (Items are also available for purchase on-site.)
  • ※ Ticketing is available on-site; please be aware that tickets often sell out early on weekend mornings
  • ※ Show your passport at the ticketing booth.

Outdoor activities with snow and ice

Various winter activities at the festival (Credit (all): Nara Foundation) Various winter activities at the festival (Credit (all): Nara Foundation)

Snow and ice activities are another core part of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. The thrilling sled ride down the hill and the ice sleighs are always big hits. Sports enthusiasts and active people will enjoy the many winter sports experiences, such as ice soccer, curling, ice hockey, and more. A zipline set up over the frozen waters is also available for the more daring visitors.

More exciting events at the festival

Things to see and eat at the festival (Credit (top & bottom left): Nara Foundation) Things to see and eat at the festival (Credit (top & bottom left): Nara Foundation)

The excitement of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival can also be felt throughout the town of Hwacheon. Participants may find sancheoneo-shaped lanterns made from hanji paper and beautiful luminaries of LED lights. The lighting event is scheduled to start from December 23, 2017. Furthermore, large-scale ice sculptures are planned for display at the ice plaza. There are also other festivities to enjoy including traditional Korean folk games and a photo zone. Throughout the festival grounds and city, restaurants that serve raw and fried fish, as well as tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake), fish cakes, and other sweet and savory fritters can be found. This is the perfect time to international visitors to purchase local specialty products of Hwacheon that are not easily found elsewhere.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
  • ☞ Period: January 6-28, 2018
  • ※ See official festival website for detailed schedule of programs and events
  • ☞ Venue: 137, Sancheoneo-gil, Hwacheon-eup, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do
  • ☞ Directions
  • ① Express Bus
  • (Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Hwacheon Bus Terminal): First bus 06:45, last bus 19:35 / Travel time approx. 2hrs 40min
  • (Hwacheon Bus Terminal → Festival grounds): Take Bus no. 15 from Hwacheon Bus Terminal Bus Stop → Get off at Sinah APT Bus Stop → Cross the street and walk approx. 7min.
  • ② Shuttle Bus (Downtown Seoul to festival grounds)
  • - Operating period: January 6-28, 2018
  • - Fare: Round-trip 10,000 won
  • - Ticketing: Online reservation required in advance
  • - Departure points & time
  • (Seoul → festival grounds): 08:00 Hongik Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, Gyeongui-Jungang Line, Airport Railroad), Exit 8 / 08:30 Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2 / 08:40 Dongdaemun History & Culture Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 12
  • (Festival grounds → Seoul): 17:00 planned
  • * Daily schedule may change
  • - Website: ksnowtour.com (English, Chinese)
  • * Currently only a packaged tour (26,000 won) is available. Shuttle bus tickets planned to be sold separately in mid-December.
  • ☞ Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival website: www.narafestival.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, German)
  • ☞ Hwacheon Tourism website: tour.ihc.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
  • ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

* This column was last updated in November 2017, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.