Travel Highlights

Embrace the Cold at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

  • Tag Event Food Tour
  • Date01/02/2020
  • Hit72121

The best region to enjoy winter in 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 the pool built beside the stream wearing shorts and a tee-shirt for barehanded fishing. The plethora of fun activities with snow and ice has made Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival one of the ultimate winter destinations!

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 caught to be served fried or in raw slices for a fee in the food centers.

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

Barehanded fishing is perhaps the most exciting activity at the festival. This style of fishing is perfect for visitors who literally want to jump all in. Registration is a simple process on-site, and each participant is given a festival tee-shirt and shorts to change into. 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 30 centimeters thick. The festival also prepares an exclusive section of ice for the use of international visitors to increase their chances of catching fish.

  • Barehanded fishing
    ☞ Period: January 27 – February 16, 2020
    ☞ Operating times: Seven rounds (10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00)
    ☞ Registration: On-site until 20 min before each round (Max. of 60 participants per round)
    ☞ Fee: 10,000 won for foreigners (Standard fee 15,000 won)
    ☞ Venue: Near Baemeorigyo Bridge
    ☞ Participation rules: Limited to 3 fish per person / Time limit of 3 min / Must wear uniform (Provided on-site) / No gloves or shoes allowed
  • Ice fishing (International visitor zone)
    ☞ Period: January 27 – February 16, 2020
    ☞ Operating time: 09:00-18:00
    ☞ Fee: 10,000 won for foreigners (Standard fee 15,000 won)
    ☞ Venue: Downstream from suspension bridge at the festival grounds ☞ Participation rules: Limited to 3 fish per person / Windbreaks, 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
    * Must show your passport at the ticketing booth to enter
    * General visitor zone also available

Outdoor activities with snow and ice

Various winter activities at the festival (Credit: 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, bobsleigh, 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 (Top & bottom left credit: Nara Foundation)

The excitement of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival can also be felt throughout the town of Hwacheon. Visitors can find sancheoneo-shaped lanterns made from hanji paper and beautiful displays of LED lights at the Lantern Street Festival and light tunnels. Furthermore, large-scale ice sculptures are on display at Hwacheoneo Cinema, making it the world’s largest indoor ice sculpture 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 a perfect time to try some local specialty products.

More info

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

  • ☞ Period: January 27 – February 16, 2020
    * See official festival website for detailed schedule of programs and events
  • ☞ Venue: 137, Sancheoneo-gil, Hwacheon-eup, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do
    (강원도 화천군 화천읍 산천어길 137)
  • ☞ Directions: Take a taxi for approx. 2 min from Hwacheon Bus Terminal
  • ☞ Foreigner-exclusive shuttle bus: Operates between downtown Seoul and festival grounds
    - Operating period: January 27 – February 16, 2020
    - 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 Shinsegae Dept. Store at Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 7 / 08:50 Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 11
    Festival grounds→Seoul: 17:00 departure
    - Fare: 5,000 won
    - Reservation website: koreadays.kr (English, Chinese)
  • ☞ Websites
    - Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival: www.narafestival.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Thai)
    - Hwacheon Tourism: tour.ihc.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
  • ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)

* This column was last updated in January 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.