The annual Lotus Lantern Festival held in honor of Buddha’s birthday, which falls on May 17 this year, will be held from May 10 to May 12, 2013.
According to Buddhist beliefs, lanterns symbolize wisdom in that they bring light to the world. “Yeondeung,” which means lighting lantern, is an important ritual in Buddhism gives respect to Buddha. The lantern-lighting began in Korea during the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1910) Dynasties and has been preserved through rituals such as the lotus lantern service and the lotus lantern parade.
The modern-day Lotus Lantern Festival is designed to bring locals and international visitors together through an array of festive programs. This year’s event offers visitors the chance to make their own lantern, taste Buddhist temple dishes, produce rubbings of various Buddhist designs, and much more.
The festival will start with a lighting ceremony (Jeomdeungsik) where a large sized lantern is lit in Gwanghwamun Square on April 23. (Note: the Jeomdeungsik ceremony was supposed to be held in early May but the schedule has been changed.) Though the opening ceremony is April 23, the festival will not officially kick off until May 10, with the traditional lantern exhibition at Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple and Bongeunsa Temple. On May 11, a spectacular lantern parade will take place, featuring more than 100,000 massive, illuminated lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers, stupas, elephants, dragons, and more. The spectacle created by these lights bobbing and swaying down the entire length of Jongno Street is not to be missed!
● Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns
[Date] May 3 – 19
[Venue] Cheonggyecheon Stream, Joggyesa Temple, Bongeunsa Temple, and nearby areas
The Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns at Cheonggycheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple, and Bongeunsa Temple is as historical as it is breathtaking. Crafted from materials such as silk and hanji (traditional Korean paper), traditional Buddhist lanterns take the forms of fruits, animals, and other interesting shapes. The shapes and sophisticated patterns of each lantern symbolize different meanings, such as hopes for good health, longevity, or a bountiful harvest.
● Eoulim Madang: Buddhist Cheer Rally
[Date] May 11, 16:30 - 18:00
[Venue] Sports Arena of Dongguk Univ.
‘Eoullim Madang,’ happening on May 11 at 4:30 p.m., is full of songs and rhythmic beats aimed to spread the excitement of the festival. During this time, Buddhist organizations and devotees gather to begin celebrating the birth of Buddha.
● Lotus Lantern Parade
[Date] May 11, 19:00 - 21:30
[Venue] Dongguk Univ. -> Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) -> Jogyesa Temple
The lantern parade, the highlight of the festival, starts at Dongguk University, runs through Dongdaemun Gate and ends at Jogyesa Temple. It lasts for about two hours and thirty minutes. Crowds carrying tens of thousands of specially made, brightly lit lanterns in the shapes of dragons, pagodas, white elephants, and lotus flowers parade down the street to the tune of Korean classical music. If you’re quick enough to grab seats in front of Tapgol Park you’ll be able to enjoy
● Hoehyang Hanmadang: Post-parade Celebration
[Date] May 11, 21:30 - 23:00
[Venue] Jonggak Intersection
The post-parade celebration, ‘Hoehyang Hanmadang,’ is held at the Jonggak Intersection. Events kick off with a dynamic performance and end with the time-honored ganggangsullae dance (a traditional circle dance), in which everyone holds hands to dance and sing among falling flower petals. The burning of written seowon (wishes and resolutions) is also scheduled to take place during this time.
● Traditional Cultural Events
[Date] May 12, 12:00 - 19:00
[Venue] The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple
The Traditional Cultural Events are held along the main street in front of Jogyesa Temple. The event offers opportunities to experience Buddhism culture along with traditional Korean culture.
During the festival, more than 100 booths are set up by Buddhist Monks and Nuns to demonstrate tea and bowing ceremonies. Festival goers can also paint pictures of Buddha, sit in Zen meditation, taste different temple foods, or create a manuscript of Buddhist scripture using powdered gold. The ‘Let’s Make Lotus Flower Lanterns’ program, where you can make wish lanterns of various shapes and sizes, and the traditional lantern making program for international visitors, give each individual at the festival a chance to join in the parade in a special way.
● Yeondeungnori: Final Celebration
[Date] May 20, 19:00-21:00
[Venue] Insa-dong -> Street in front of Jogyesa Temple
Yeondeungnori starts in Insa-dong and parades to the main street in front of Jogyesa Temple, where lantern carriers and performance groups join together for one huge celebration. After the parade is over, performers, onlookers, and tourists gather in front of Jogyesa Temple to enjoy the performances together.
List of Scheduled Events for 2013 Lotus Lantern Festival
2013 Lotus Lantern Festival
|April 23 (Tue), 2013
|May 3 (Fri) – 19 (Sun), 2013
||Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns
|May 11 (Sat), 2013
||Eoulim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally)
||16:30 – 18:00
||Sports Arena of Dongguk
||19:00 – 21:30
||Dongguk University ->
Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) ->
|Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration)
||21:30 – 23:00
|May 12 (Sun), 2013
||Traditional Cultural Events
||12:00 – 19:00
||The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple
||12:00 – 18:00
||The stage in front of Jogyesa Temple
|19:00 – 21:00
||Insa-dong -> The street in front of Jogyesa Temple
|May 17 (Fri), 2013
||Buddha’s Birthday Dharma Service
||Temples across the nation, including Jogyesa Temple
Festival Tour Guide
One-day course: May 11th (Sat)
Two-day course: May 11th- 12th (Sat-Sun)
May 11th (Sat)
** Suggested Itinerary **
14:00: Arrive at Bongeunsa Temple, tour the traditional lantern exhibition
17:00: Dinner at Insa-dong
19:00: Lotus Lantern Parade in Jongno (Jongmyo and Tapgol Park)
21:30: Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post-parade celebration) at Jonggak Intersection (Event ends at 23:00)
May 12th (Sun)
** Suggested Itinerary **
14:00: Buddhist cultural experiences and performances on the street in front of Jogyesa Temple
17:00: Dinner in Insa-dong
19:00: Yeondeungnori Parade and performances from Insa-dong to Jogyesa Temple (Event ends at 21:00)
May 10 (Fri) to May 12 (Sun), 2013
☞ Main Venue: Bongeunsa Temple
Jongno, and nearby areas
Jonggak Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 2. Go 70m forward, then cross the street. Go 100m more to arrive at a path to Jogyesa Temple.
Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Go 50m forward, then cross the street in front of Dongduk Gallery. Go 50m more to arrive at a path to Jogyesa Temple.
Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 2. Go 150m forward to arrive at a path to Jogyesa Temple between YTN Parking Tower and Hana Bank.
Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 6. Go 600m forward, and turn left. Go 150m forward, and cross the road to arrive at Bongeunsa Temple.
Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 5.
City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 4.
Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 5
Sports Arena of Dongguk Univ.:
Dongguk Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Go towards the intersection, and turn right. Go 300m forward, and turn right.Go 300m forward to arrive at the Dongguk University playground.
Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6.
Go 100m straight, then turn left.
Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 3.
Go straight 300m, and turn left at the 4-way Intersection.
Go straight 100m, and take the left road towards Insadong-gil Road.
Heunginjimun Gate (Dongdaemun):
Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 6.
Jonggak Station, Seoul Subway Line 1
☞ Festival Website: www.llf.or.kr
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Russian)
+82-2-2011-1744 (Korean, English)
☞ 1330 Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Click here for the 2013 Lotus Lantern Festival
☞ Related Pages
Photo credit: Buddha’s Birthday Celebration Committee
Last updated in April 17, 2013