Travel Highlights

      • Lotus Lantern Festival , Celebrating Traditional Buddhist Culture

        • 05/10/2024


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  • A Buddhist Temple Decorated with Five-color Lanterns (Credit: Getty Images Bank)

    Every May, Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) is held across Korea to celebrate the birth of the Buddha (lunar April 8). This is a Buddhist cultural festival that follows the idea of illuminating the entire world with the light of Buddha’s enlightenment. Yeon Deung Hoe began approximately 1,200 years ago during the Silla period and is still a massive festival today after it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to enjoy Yeon Deung Hoe as it is a festival where everyone, regardless of their belief, gender, and nationality, can become one. So, light your own lotus lantern with the wishes of happiness for yourself and your family and peace for your neighbors and the society at Yeon Deung Hoe.

    1. Seoul Yeon Deung Hoe

    The Lotus Lantern Parade in Seoul (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe) The Lotus Lantern Parade in Seoul (Credit: Yeon Deung Hoe)

    Seoul Yeon Deung Hoe is certainly the most sizable and the grandest Lotus Lantern Festival in Korea. The streets of Seoul are decorated with individual and grand lanterns created by Buddhist temples and organizations across Korea. The Lantern Parade begins at Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) on May 11, 19:00, and proceeds along the four Seoul Subway stations (Dongdaemun Station, Jongno 5(o)-ga Station, Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station, and Jonggak Station) to Jogyesa Temple. Vehicle traffic will be closed during the parade, and the procession will be lined with rows of viewing seats. One can also take part in the parade with their handmade lanterns.

    After the Lantern Parade, Daedong Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration) will take place. This is a celebration for everyone who has taken part in the event, featuring traditional activities including Ganggangsullae (circle dance) under the night sky adorned with pink petals. The festival will also include lantern-making experiences, DJing, and other programs to bring the Buddhist culture closer to the younger generation.

    ■ Seoul Yeon Deung Hoe

    • Period: May 11–12, 2024
    • Lantern Parade: Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) [Lantern Parade begins at Exits 9 and 10 of Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Lines 1 and 4)] – Jongno 5(o)-ga Station – Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station – Jogyesa Temple
    • Major Events: Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns, Eoulim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally), Daedong Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration), Yeondeungnori (Final Celebration)
    • Inquiries: +82-2-2011-1744
    • Website: (English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Spanish)
    • Yeon Deung Hoe Participant Application: Google Forms / Webpage

    2. Busan Yeon Deung Hoe

    Grand Lantern Parade Procession of Parade Participants (Credit: Busan Yeon Deung Hoe)

    Held at Busan Citizens Park and Songsanghyeon Square every year, Busan Yeon Deung Hoe features a wide range of cultural events and traditional rites. The main event of the Busan Yeon Deung Hoe is held on May 11. The event includes a sharing of neutitteok (zelkova rice cake), which is inspired by the traditional practice of sharing rice cake steamed with zelkova leaves and roasted beans with neighbors on Buddha’s birthday; and a memorial service dedicated to those who made sacrifices for their country. In the evening, a massive parade featuring individual and grand lanterns proceeds from the Busan Citizens Park to Songsanghyeon Square.

    ■ Busan Yeon Deung Hoe

    • Period: April 26 – May 12, 2024
    • Address: 121-1 Dongseong-ro 112beon-gil, Busanjin-gu, Busan (부산 부산진구 동성로112번길 121-1 송상현광장)
    • Lantern Parade: Busan Citizens Park – Hamajeong Intersection – Yangjeong Intersection – Songgong Three-way Intersection – Songsanghyeon Square
    • Major Events: Hanging Wish Lantern, Large Traditional Lantern Exhibition, Lantern Parade, Traditional Culture Experience, Etc.
    • Inquiries: +82-51-867-0501~3

    3. Jeonju Yeon Deung Hoe

    Yeon Deung Hoe Tower Lighting Event Lantern Parade (Credit:

    Yeon Deung Hoe is by nature more than a religious rite, for it includes many cultural events catering to non-Buddhists. This year’s Jeonju Yeon Deung Hoe, in particular, has put together a large collection of interactive programs for the younger generation. One such event is the traditional cultural experience programs held at the Jeollagamyeong Provincial Office. Visitors can participate in programs such as making hanji (traditional Korean paper) and making rice cake, as well as cultural events like singing and youth dance contests. These events represent the harmony between tradition and contemporary sensibilities that characterize the Lotus Lantern Festivals of today.

    Jeonju’s Hwangbangsa Temple also plans to provide 1,000 portions of bibimbap and fried rice with black bean sauce to elevate the festive ambience of the event. The most anticipated event of Yeon Deung Hoe, the Lantern Parade, will begin at Jeollagamyeong Provincial Office and pass through Jeonju Film Street and Jeonju City Hall before returning to Jeollagamyeong Provincial Office. The parade is expected to last about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    ■ Jeonju Yeon Deung Hoe

    • Period: May 10–11, 2024
    • Address: 55 Jeollagamyeong-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeonbuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 전라감영로 55)
    • Lantern Parade: Jeollagamyeong Provincial Office – Jeonju Film Street – Ogeori – Paldal-ro – Jeollagamyeong Provincial Office
    • Major Events: Youth dance contest, lantern making, singing contest, Lantern Parade, etc.
    • Inquiries: +82-63-277-3497

    More info

    • 1330 Korea Travel Helpline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)

    * This column was last updated in May 2024, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.

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