The Lotus Lantern Festival is an annual event that takes place in Korea and colors every nook and cranny with brightly decorated lotus lanterns.
The Lotus Lantern Festival is an annual event that takes place in Korea and colors every nook and cranny with brightly decorated lotus lanterns. The scale of celebration rivals that of Christmas, with the only difference being that it doesn’t fall on a specific date on the Gregorian calendar, but on the lunar calendar instead. Even so, the two are similar in that they are enjoyed by thousands of people every year, where people of various backgrounds, nationalities, and religions gather together to celebrate a rich and beautiful tradition.
This theme for the festival is 'Youths with Lotus Lantern Festival' and will be held for three days from May 6 to May 8 at the areas around Seoul's Jogyesa Temple. In particular, a variety of creative displays are offered for the young to appreciate and enjoy.
Shout out to all international visitors who are visiting Korea in early May! The Lotus Lantern Festival is a large scale must-see event that only takes place in the month of May. Read on to find out more on the diverse hands-on activities and things to see at the festival!
Photo: Lotus Lantern Parade (Photo courtesy of Commission for the Conservation of Lotus Lantern)
The highlight of the lotus lantern festival is the lantern parade! Starting at Heunginjimun Gate and stretching all the way to Jogyesa Temple, this large scale parade is a true sight to behold. The float leading the procession carries Sacheonwangsang statue, a god that watches over the heavens. Following close behind is a lion and elephant float, symbolizing wisdom. In the middle of the floats are performers doing elegant and colorful dances, making the entire scene even more spectacular. There are many chairs (pre-booking of seats available) set up along the street at Jongno, making it easy for viewers to rest their legs as one enjoys the parade.
Photo: Photo: Fantastic lantern display at Cheonggyecheon Stream (right) / Bongeunsa Temple (right) (Photo courtesy of Commission for the Conservation of Lotus Lantern)
In remembrance of “Buddha’s Birthday,' exhibition of traditional lanterns can be found various parts of Seoul including Bongeunsa Temple, Jogyesa Temple by Ujeong Park, and Cheongyecheon Stream, for a 10-day period. There was also a vast array of artworks about Buddhism, lotus flowers, and Dabotap Pagoda, all under a common theme: “Hoehyang, enlightenment in our daily lives.”
Though every location has its own uniqueness and distinctive exhibits, the displays at Cheonggyecheon Stream are strongly recommended and not to be missed. High quality works of professional lantern creators will be showcased, and its subtle dim lights that soaked the area in a soft, warm glow naturally creates a magical fantasy atmosphere around the area.
Photo: Traditional lanterns made by international visitors (left) / Traditional lion dance performance (Photo courtesy of Commission for the Conservation of Lotus Lantern)
Jogyesa Temple is the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea, and is famous for being located amidst the busy urban environment of Seoul. About 130 event booths from Buddhist organizations welcome thousands of visitors, whether Buddhist practitioners or not, in order to offer both Koreans and foreign visitors a chance to experience the enticing facets of the religion. One of the most popular activities is the contest for making of paper lantern shaped in a lotus flower (pre-reservations available). Besides, there are also other hands-on activities and things to see at the cultural zone. Buddhism-related performances, cuisines and other programs are also prepared for both local and international participants to enjoy and learn about this local culture.
Photo: Participants having fun while posing with the paper lantern (Photo courtesy of Commission for the Conservation of Lotus Lantern)
From the streets of Insa-dong to Jogyesa Temple, performers can be seen at a large scale lotus lantern parade. After the parade, visitors may join the performers of the street parade in a joyous dance and singing session in front of Jogyesa Temple.
*This column was last updated on April 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official website before visiting.
<Last updated on April 19, 2016>