As winter approaches and we find ourselves spending more time in the cold darkness, the Seoul Lantern Festival is just the remedy to boost spirits and remind us that there is warmth wherever people gather to enjoy beauty. This annual festival of lights along the Cheonggyecheon stream near Gwanghwamun Station and City Hall begins the first Friday of November and runs about two weeks. It is free to the public and draws millions of visitors.
There were four themes at this year's festival: world heritage, local provincial governments, character of corporations, and LED light art. Beginning at the Mojeon Bridge (just past the Yi Su Shin memorial), walk down the steps to the stream and traverse the plaza towards the Supyo Bridge. The glittering extravaganza extends a little over one kilometer (not quite a mile), where you'll exit the esplanade and return to the sidewalk above. Enjoy the view (along with local entertainment and food) topside on your way back!
Aligning with the annual themes, these spectacular lanterns are donated by countries such as Japan, China, and the Philippines, Korean city prefects such as Suncheon and Seoul, Korean conglomerate corporations, and various local artists (click to enlarge each image).
The sparkle begins around 5:00 p.m. I recommend taking an early afternoon tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace. Then walk along Gwanghwamun Square towards City Hall where you will pass statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Shin.
Warm-up with a bowl of hot pollack soup (북어국 "Boog-aw-guk") at Mugyodong Pollack Soup House (무교동북어국집, address: 173 Da-dong, Jung-gu). Then head over to Cheonggyecheon stream for the festival. Upon returning to Mojeon Bridge and the beautifully-lit waterfall, meander down Avenue of the Youth for a nightcap and some nibbles. (click to enlarge each image below)
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