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 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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.