Festive Fall in Seoul

Well, fall is nearly over, and though I’ve greatly enjoyed it, I’m already eager to unpack my tiny Christmas tree and start blasting Christmas tunes!  Last year in Ulsan, autumn was pretty lame and uneventful; luckily, this year, we were able to visit two of Seoul’s most colorful fall festivals: the Jogyesa Temple Chrysanthemum Festival and the Cheonggyecheon Lantern Festival!

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I had no idea about the Chrysanthemum Festival at Jogyesa; we just happened to be doing some Christmas shopping in Insadong when I noticed that massive floral tree and bursts of autumn colors.  It was a cold and drizzly day, but I’m so happy we took the time to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak!

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This huge ‘tree’ was actually made from hundreds of bunches of chrysanthemums; I loved all the mossy bits, too.

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I think the festival runs for nearly a month, starting in early October, so we were lucky to catch it just before it finished!  I don’t know how they kept all of the flowers so bright and fresh.  We spotted a pick-up truck filled with old chrysanthemums on our way into the temple, so I guess they must rotate out the flowers in the various displays.

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Slightly tacky plastic guy at the entrance to the temple…

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The grounds of the temple were completely covered in various chrysanthemum displays and arrangements, mostly in red, yellow, and orange autumn colors.  The tall sprays of wheat in this photo were filled with little sparrows

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There were a couple of these heart-shaped displays you could get your photo taken in.  The ajummas were lovin’ it!

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This guy kinda creeped me out.

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All of the chrysanthemums really made the colors on the temple pop out.  Those pale purple ones were my faves!

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Another amazing tree display!

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There were also cow-themed displays everywhere.  Do cows and chrysanthemums have some special meaning in Buddhism?

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Obviously a crazy amount of planning and preparation goes into this event, more people should really check it out!

The Cheonggyecheon Lantern Festival, on the other hand, was nearly TOO popular.

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We tried to visit it on the opening weekend, around dinner time, and this was as far as we went before turning around and hightailing it back into the subway.  The crowds were absolutely insane!  The Festival ran for three weeks, so we came back on the final weekend around five, and it was still pretty damn crowded, but at least there was actually space to move!

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Obviously, they put the best lanterns at the start of the stream.  These things were seriously impressive!  It took us about two hours to walk down the entire stream, but we probably should’ve stopped after an hour, cuz the ones towards the end were pretty disappointing in comparison.

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This huge display of traditional Korean court musicians was probably the most impressive.  You could hear traditional music playing from all around the lanterns.

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These lanterns were so enchanting, but it was impossible to stay and stare at them for too long, with the amount of people pressing to squeeze in all around us!


This dragon boat was awfully impressive, too!


The sails actually moved up and down, and smoke came out of the dragon’s mouth just as we were approaching it!  We hung around to see if it would happen again, but unfortunately it didn’t.


The big hawk in the background of this picture wasn’t actually a lantern, but a huge inflatable.  Its wings moved up and down, too!


The further we ventured down the stream, the less impressive and Korean-themed the lanterns became.  These pandas were still pretty cute, though.

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This school of magical rainbow fish was pretty much the last photo-worthy display of lanterns.


I really, really liked these ones, though!  I wish they’d keep them up all year.

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So, was it worth the crowds and hype?  I guess so, at least for the first hour of walking.  I don’t think I’ll hang around to check out all of the lanterns next year, though.

For more Korean lanterns, check out my blog post from Ulsan’s Cherry Blossom Festival last year!


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