Travel Highlights

Traditional Charm & Excitement Meet at the Lotus Lantern Festival

  • Tag Event History Tour
  • Date04/18/2019
  • Hit76396

Lotus lantern parade (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

The Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) is an annual event that colors Korea with bright lanterns in celebration of the birth of Buddha. Started as a religious festival during the Silla Dynasty (57 BC – AD 935), this traditional festival has come to be enjoyed by thousands of people every year, regardless of background, nationality, or religion.

In hopes of making the world a better place, this year’s slogan and theme is “A Merciful Spirit, Peace in the World.” Various programs and events are scheduled, including the popular lantern parade and lantern making as well as traditional activities, exciting performances, and a lantern exhibition.

An overview of the Lotus Lantern Festival

International visitors coming to Korea in May should definitely include this wonderful celebration in their itinerary! The Lotus Lantern Festival is a huge event that takes place once a year. Read on to find out more about the diverse hands-on activities and things to see at the festival!

Eoulim Madang (Buddhist cheer rally)

Eoulim Madang (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

Eoulim Madang, also called Buddhist Cheer Rally, is an energy-filled event taking place before the lantern parade begins. The various groups that will walk in the parade gather here to sing songs and dance. Their moods bounce off each other until the stadium overflows with happiness. The rally is open to everyone, so visitors can take a seat and clap along, or jump to their feet and join in the dancing! The cheer rally culminates in the ritual of bathing Buddha and Dharma readings.

  • ☞ Time: 16:30-18:00 on May 4, 2019
  • ☞ Venue: Main Stadium of Dongguk University
  • ☞ Directions (Dongguk University Main Stadium): Walk approx. 10 min from Dongguk Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6

Lantern parade

Lantern Parade (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

The highlight of the lotus lantern festival is the lantern parade! Passing Heunginjimun Gate on its way along Jongno Avenue to Jogyesa Temple, this large-scale parade is a true sight to behold. The participating groups have each planned unique lanterns specifically for this year’s parade.

  • ☞ Time: 19:00-21:30 on May 4, 2019
  • ☞ Venue: Areas of Jongno Avenue (Heunginjimun GateJogyesa Temple), Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로 거리 일대)
  • ☞ Directions (parade route)
    - Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9 or 10
    - Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 1, 4, 5 or 8
    - Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15
    - Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2, 3 or 3-1
  • ☞ Parade reserved seating & participation registration guide
    Download and fill out the registration form from the Yeon Deung Hoe website and submit it via e-mail to idia.seoul@gmail.com or kang@buddhism.or.kr or via fax to +82-2-722-2203 (Accepted until full)
  • ☞ Inquiries (seating & parade participation):+82-2-722-2206 (English), +82-2-2011-1746 (English), kang@buddhism.or.kr

Hoehyang Hanmadang (post-parade celebration)

Hoehyang Hanmadang (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

The end of the parade signals the start of the post-parade celebration, Hoehyang Hanmadang. The stage is set up at Jonggak Intersection and will feature traditional music performances as well as modern musical performances. All visitors will feel connected as they join hands and participate in the Ganggangsullae dance, a UNESCO-inscribed Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • ☞ Time: 21:30-23:00 on May 4, 2019
  • ☞ Venue: In front of Bosingak Belfry (Jonggak Intersection)
  • ☞ Directions (Bosingak Belfry): Walk approx. 1 min from Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2 or 3-1

Exhibition of traditional lanterns

Exhibition of traditional lanterns along Cheonggyecheon Stream (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

In remembrance of the birth of Buddha, exhibitions of traditional lanterns will be on display for a ten-day period in various parts of Seoul including Ujeong Park by Jogyesa Temple, Bongeunsa Temple and Cheonggyecheon Stream. These exhibitions provide a wonderful opportunity to marvel at the unassuming charm of Korea’s traditional paper, hanji. In particular, Cheonggyecheon Stream’s exhibition will display quality lanterns with a theme of “Flowers of Peace Bloom on the Korean Peninsula,” promoting peace and reunification.

  • ☞ Period: May 3-12, 2019
  • ☞ Venues: Areas of Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple & Bongeunsa Temple
  • ☞ Directions
    - Cheonggyecheon Stream: Walk approx. 3 min from Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 5
    - Jogyesa Temple: Walk approx. 10 min from Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2 or 3-1 / Walk approx. 10 min from Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6
    - Bongeunsa Temple: Walk approx. 2 min from Bongeunsa Station (Seoul Subway Line 9), Exit 1 / Walk approx. 15 min from Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 6 / Walk approx. 15 min from Cheongdam Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 2

Traditional cultural events

Lanterns at Jogyesa Temple

The Traditional Culture Zone will be prepared in front of Jogyesa Temple, featuring approximately 130 booths run by Buddhist organizations and temples from across the nation. These booths provide a chance for visitors to learn and better understand Buddhist culture. Traditional performances, temple cuisine and experiences are prepared for both local and international participants to enjoy and learn about this local culture using all five senses.

International visitors in particular will enjoy the chance to try temple foods and making paper flowers. One of the most popular activities is the lotus lantern contest (pre-reservation available) as participants can create their own personal lanterns.

  • ☞ Time: 12:00-19:00 on May 5, 2019
  • ☞ Venue: Area in front of Jogyesa Temple
  • ☞ Directions (Jogyesa Temple): Walk approx. 10 min from Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2 or 3-1 / Walk approx. 10 min from Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6
  • ☞ Lotus lantern contest registration guide
    Download and fill out the registration form from the Yeon Deung Hoe website and submit it via e-mail to idia.seoul@gmail.com or kang@buddhism.or.kr or via fax to +82-2-722-2203 (Reservation required)

Yeondeungnori (final celebration)

Children’s Parade during Yeondeungnori (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

From the streets of Insa-dong to the road before Jogyesa Temple and all around the area of Jongno, the Lotus Lantern Festival will end in a final parade with grand lanterns and the music of a street performing troupe. The performers, visitors, and lanterns will come together for a fun and exciting time full of dancing and laughter in the streets.

  • ☞ Time: 19:00-21:00 on May 5, 2019
  • ☞ Venue: Street before Jogyesa Temple (Gongpyeong Intersection), Insa-dong
  • ☞ Directions (Jogyesa Temple): Walk approx. 10 min from Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2 or 3-1 / Walk approx. 10 min from Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6
More Info
Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival)
  • ☞ Period: May 3-5, 2019
  • ☞ Venues: Jongno Avenue (Heunginjimun GateJogyesa Temple), street in front of Jogyesa Temple, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Bongeunsa Temple, Heunginjimun Gate, Dongguk University Main Stadium & street in front of Bosingak Belfry
  • ☞ Fees: Free admission (Fees may apply to programs)
  • ☞ Main events: Lantern exhibition, lantern parade, making lanterns, trying temple cuisine, traditional performances, etc.
  • ☞ Inquiries: +82-2-2011-1744 (Korean), +82-2-2011-1746 (English)
  • ☞ Website: www.llf.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Spanish)
  • ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)

* This column was last updated in April 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official website before visiting.