Travel Highlights

Traditional Charm & Excitement Meet at the Lotus Lantern Festival

  • Tag Event History Tour
  • Date04/27/2017
  • Hit42045

Exhibition of traditional lanterns (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.

The slogan for 2017’s festival is “We Can Make a World without Discrimination,” created with the aim of promoting respect and kindness by inviting citizens to come together. Various programs and events are scheduled, from the lantern parade featuring lanterns shaped like Buddhist instruments to a talk concert hosted by monks at the Buddhism culture plaza.

A Peek into Lotus Lantern Festival

International visitors coming to Korea in late April should definitely not miss this wonderful opportunity! The Lotus Lantern Festival is a huge event that only takes place near the end of April. Read on to find out more about the diverse hands-on activities and things to see at the festival!

1. Lotus Lantern Parade

Lotus 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 all the way to Jogyesa Temple, this large scale parade is a true sight to behold. Following the theme of this year’s festival, the parade will include lanterns in the shape of the four Dharma instruments of Buddhism which represent guidance of all creatures living above ground, underground, in the sky, and in the waters. The inclusion of all forms of life shows the strong aspiration of Buddhists for salvation of all living creatures in a world without discrimination.

International visitors coming to watch the parade will also have the chance to learn the rhythmic movements of the parade with the help of over one hundred members of the Global Supporters group. In addition, this year’s parade is expected to be quite special, with the participation of various nations carrying lanterns representing their countries, including Thailand and Taiwan.

  • ☞ Date: 19:00-21:30 April 29, 2017
  • ☞ Venue: Areas of Jongno Avenue (Heunginjimun GateJogyesa Temple)
  • ☞ Directions (parade start point): Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 6 or 9. Walk approx. 1-2 min.
  • ☞ Inquiries (seating): International Pogyo +82-2-722-2206 (Korean, English) / ipogyo@buddhism.or.kr
    ※ Interested participants must call or send an email to receive the application form.

2. 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 Cheongyecheon 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 “yeomcheon,” meaning “to think of the sky.”

  • ☞ Date: April 28 – May 7, 2017
  • ☞ Venue: Areas of Cheongyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple & Bongeunsa Temple
  • ☞ Directions
    • - Cheonggyecheon Stream (Cheonggye Plaza): Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 5. Walk approx. 3 min.
    • - Jogyesa Temple: Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Walk approx. 6 min. / Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2. Walk approx. 6 min.
    • - Bongeunsa Temple: Bongeunsa Station (Seoul Subway Line 9), Exit 1. Walk approx. 2 min. / Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 6. Walk approx. 12 min.

3. Traditional Cultural Events

International visitors making lanterns (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

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 about and better understand Buddhist culture. International visitors in particular will enjoy the chance to try temple foods and hands-on crafts.

One of the most popular activities is the lotus lantern contest (pre-reservation available) as participants can create their own personal lanterns. There are also many other hands-on activities and things to see in the culture zone. Buddhism-related performances, temple cuisines and experiences are also prepared for both local and international participants to enjoy and learn about this local culture using all five senses.

  • ☞ Date: 12:00-19:00 April 30, 2017
  • ☞ Venue: Area of Jogyesa Temple
  • ☞ Directions: Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2. Walk approx. 6 min. / Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Walk approx. 6 min.
  • ☞ Inquiries (lotus lantern contest): International Pogyo +82-2-722-2206 (Korean, English) / ipogyo@buddhism.or.kr
    ※ Although on-site registration is available, pre-registration is recommended due to a limited number of seats. Interested participants must call or send an email to receive the application form.

4. Yeondeungnori (Final Celebration)

Jogyesa Temple 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.  

  • ☞ Date: 19:00-21:00 April 30, 2017
  • ☞ Venue: Street before Jogyesa Temple (Gongpyeong Intersection), Insa-dong
  • ☞ Directions (Jogyesa Temple): Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2. Walk approx. 6 min. / Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Walk approx. 6 min.
More Info
Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival)
☞ Period: April 28-30, 2017
☞ Venue: Jongno Avenue (Heunginjimun Gate → Jogyesa Temple), street in front of Jogyesa Temple
☞ Yeon Deung Hoe website: www.llf.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Spanish)
☞ Inquiries: +82-2-2011-1744 (Korean), +82-2-2011-1746 (English)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

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