During the frosty months of Korean winter, a small part of Korea’s Cheongyang Alps Village becomes a magical winter wonderland and home to the incredible Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival. At this festival, visitors are treated to beautiful winter scenes of frozen ice fountains and sculptures, snowy slopes you can slide down, and fiery logs roasting traditional winter snacks.
Nestled in the remote Chilgapsan Mountain a couple of hours outside of Seoul, the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival transforms this rural valley retreat into a glittering icy world that looks straight out of a fairy tale. This frozen festival of winter delights includes a giant wall of bubbling ice, snowy sculptures, igloos, ice caves, snow statues, ice carvings, and all round winter fun for the whole family.
In this article you can find out what there is to see and do at the Chilgapsan Festival, including the various ice-based activities and attractions, how to get there by tour or public transport, and information about whether this festival is worth visiting or not. If you’re thinking of visiting this Korean ice fountain festival, and want to know why I think it’s definitely worth it, then keep on reading.
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Why Visit The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival 2024?
The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival (칠갑산 얼음분수축제) offers visitors the chance to see a truly unique sight – massive structures crafted entirely from long icicles that appear to sprout up from the ground and have earned this winter festival the nickname of ‘Ice Castle’. The icicles, sparkling to create the illusion of frozen ice fountains, are man-made but that makes them no less magical.
With its stunning mix of dramatic natural scenery and dream-like illuminations, the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival promises a fairy tale experience found nowhere else in Korea. This festival runs from December 23rd, 2023 to February 28th, 2024, which makes it one of Korea’s longest winter festivals and gives you plenty of opportunities to see it if you visit Korea during winter.
By day, you can explore illuminated ice caves and sculptures that get more fantastical each year. But it’s at night when the full effect comes alive, with rainbow-hued lights reflecting off the icy landscape synchronized to festive music. Visitors wander through this winter wonderland with hot chocolate in hand, snapping selfies and admiring over 50,000 tons of magical ice art crafted just for the festival.
Who Will Enjoy This Korean Winter Festival?
I think the Chilgapsan festival will appeal to couples and families, as well as anyone who enjoys playing in the snow. There are many rides and activities aimed at children, so this is a great way to keep them entertained during winter and gives them a fun, snowy playground to play in. Couples will enjoy strolling around the snow-covered landscape, posing for pictures in the many photo zones.
Warning about Korea’s winter weather: Winter in Korea can be very cold, especially during January and February, with temperatures dropping below zero degrees Celsius even during the day. If you are travelling with children, make sure they’re wrapped up well so they don’t suffer from the cold. There are lots of markets in Seoul that sell winter clothes and you can get heat packs and hand warmers, too.
What To Do At The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival
The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival provides a whole day of fun for people of all ages with lots of activities available for everyone, especially children. The main draw during the day is the ice fountain, sculptures and ice caves, with winter illuminations bringing the festival site to life once the sun sets. There’s also Korean festival food to try, snow and ice-based sports, and children’s rides.
Here are some of the best things you can see and do at this festival:
Ice Fountain, Ice Wall And Ice Sculptures
The towering ice fountains, which give this festival its name, and giant ice wall really have to be seen to be believed. Created by shooting jets of water which then freeze in place, they look truly unique. They look impressive during the day, but look even more extraordinary once the sun goes down and the lights are turned on, illuminating them in an ever changing rainbow of colours.
As well as the ice fountains, there are carefully created sculptures (inspired by Korean cartoons, Disney, and Pokemon), cute animals, and lots more. There are also ice sculptures shaped like the famous Korean turtle boat, a frozen Gwanghwamun Gate, wild animals, and a life-sized train made from ice.
Ice Caves, Igloos And Illuminations
Head into the ice caves and igloos to escape the cold and see gleaming blocks of ice lit up with vivid lights bouncing from frozen surfaces. There are several icy buildings to wander around and, as with the ice fountains, these look best when it’s dark so you can appreciate the illuminations at their fullest. Speaking of illuminations, there are lots of displays with pretty lights to see at night.
Snow And Ice Sports
There are plenty of winter sports to keep you busy and this festival is a great place to see snow in Korea as there are many snow machines working just in case it doesn’t snow. Slide down the snow sledding slope on a rubber ring or the ice sledding slope on a small sleigh. If you prefer flat surfaces, try the traditional Korean wooden sleighs and push yourself along the ice with short sticks.
Besides sledding, you can also try your hand at other winter sports and activities such as ice fishing, bare hand fishing in frozen tanks of water, a zip line past the frozen fountains, and a cow-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. If you want to try ice fishing, the experience here isn’t as impressive as dedicated ice fishing festivals like the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, but it’s still fun.
Children’s Activities At The Chilgapsan Winter Festival
I saw lots of families at the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival and there were plenty of activities for kids to enjoy, including a tractor-pulled ‘can sled’. These ‘cans’ looked like big cut out barrels with chairs inside, but were quite safe and let the kids feel like they were in their own personal car. The activities aren’t exactly on par with Disneyland, but they’re a good way to play in the snow.
As well as the sled and skis, children can try horse riding while being led around a course by a handler. There are also cultural activities and arts and crafts in small tents, but you might need to know a bit of Korean to understand what’s going on there. Activities will probably vary each year and may only be open during the busier weekend day, but I’m not sure so they could be available.
Food At The Chilgapsan Festival
Fans of Korean food won’t be disappointed with the range of Korean winter snacks at the Chilgapsan winter festival. Inside the festival grounds you can try various winter street foods on skewers, including chicken, rice cakes, and fish cakes, as well as deep fried fish. There’s also a cafe to get coffee, but don’t expect a chain store cafe, this is a temporary hut with a coffee machine inside.
The best part about the food at this festival has to be the roasted chestnuts, sweetcorn, and sweet potatoes. You can roast your own chestnuts on a log fire and cook the sweetcorn over hot coals. The sweet potatoes are roasted inside big metal drum ovens and served piping hot and steaming. These provide not only hot and delicious snacks, but also a fun experience to try at the festival.
For proper meals, there are some restaurants serving traditional Korean dishes such as tteok-guk (rice cake soup), haemul pajeon (Korean seafood pancakes), guk-bap (soupy stew with rice inside), and my favourite, donkasu (pork cutlet). There are simple meals like Korean curry and soybean sauce rice, too.
Sights Near Cheongyang Alps Village
Chilgapsan is the name of the mountain that the Cheongyang Alps Village, home to the ice fountain festival, is located by, which is why this festival is sometimes called the Cheongyang Ice Fountain Festival. If you want to explore more of this area during winter, there’s a really nice suspension bridge, the Chilgapsan Suspension Bridge (천장호 출렁다리), and reservoir near the entrance to the festival.
The reservoir looks really pretty when it’s frozen over and covered in snow, as you can see in the picture above. You can walk around the reservoir by following the wooden pathways, which are decorated with cute Korean messages along the way. You might be wondering why the suspension bridge has two giant chili peppers at each end. That’s because this area is famous for growing chilies.
Ticket Prices And Essential Festival Information
The entry fee for the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival is ₩8,000 per person (children under 36 months are free). This gives you access to the festival grounds and access to the sculptures, ice fountains, ice caves, igloos, and other sights and facilities at the festival.
The sledding pass, which includes access to the sledding hill for ice sledding, snow sledding, and bob sledding, costs about ₩20,000 per person. There are also additional costs for the zip line, ice fishing and children’s activities, such as horse riding and the can sled. The prices for these activities aren’t available on the festival’s official website yet, but I’ll update prices here when they are.
- Festival Period: The festival runs from December 23rd, 2023 to February 28th, 2024.
- Operating Hours: Opens at 9:00am and closes at 10:00pm. Last tickets sold at 9:00pm.
- Reentry Conditions: Reentry is not allowed after 6:00pm.
- Location: Cheongyang Alps Village (청양 알프스 마을) in Chilgapsan
- Address: 충남 청양군 정산면 천장호길 223-35
- Parking: Parking is free and available at three locations near the festival.
For more information about this festival (in Korean), you can visit the official Alps Village website.
Tours To Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival 2024
Despite the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival becoming more popular each year, there aren’t many tours. If you don’t have a car, taking a tour to the festival is the best option and gives you the benefit of a guaranteed direct journey there and back, as well as a guide who can tell you more about the festival.
Here are two tours that I recommend for the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival:
Cheongyang (Chilgapsan) Ice Festival & Other Winter Sights from Seoul: This all day guided tour from various locations in Seoul will take you to some of the hottest winter destinations in Korea, including the Chilgapsan festival. There are various options to add on extra destinations, such as Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, Eobi Ice Valley, and a strawberry picking farm
Price: From ₩62,200 (about $47 USD)
Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival at Cheongyang Alps Village from Seoul: This all day tour from Seoul will take you to the Cheongyang Alps Village to see the Chilgapsan winter festival. You can add on extras, such as ice sledding, snow sledding, and bobsleigh, as well as extra destinations, to give you a full winter experience in Korea. You get over 4 hours to enjoy at the festival.
Price: From ₩69,100 (about $53 USD)
I always recommend booking tours in advance when visiting Korea for these reasons:
- Guarantee your booking and avoid disappointment.
- Almost always cheaper than buying on the day.
- You can read reviews and see if the tour is right for you.
- You can pay with your home credit card.
Learn more: Paying in your home currency is usually easier and cheaper than converting money into Korean won. Booking ahead is one of the tips included in my guide to paying in Korea, which covers ways to save on travel money in Korea and alternatives to relying on exchanging cash to travel.
How To Get To The Chilgapsan Winter Festival
Cheongyang Alps Village is a resort located in North Chungcheong Province, which is south of Seoul and about an hour west of Daejeon. It’s about 3.5 hours away from Seoul by car and can be reached by car or guided tour. Here are details about how to get to this Korean ice fountain festival by each of those means. There are instructions in Korean on the festival website, too.
From Seoul To Chilgapsan Festival By Car: If you plan to rent a car in Korea, or you live in Korea and have your own car, then you can drive to the festival in just over three hours from Seoul. You can find the main festival location by searching for “칠갑산얼음분수축제” or “알프스마을영농조합법인” in Naver or Kakao map apps. Use the address shown below to get directions with a sat-nav.
Address in Korean: 충남 청양군 정산면 천장호길 223-35 없음
From Seoul To Chilgapsan Festival By Tour: There are various tours to the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival from Seoul, as detailed in the previous section. Taking a tour is a convenient way to see the festival and to save time vs. organising your own way there on public transportation.
Please note: You can get to the Chilgapsan festival by taking a train from Seoul to Gongju and then transferring to a local bus, but the options for buses are very limited and don’t run late. I strongly recommend either renting a car or taking a tour rather than trying to get there by public transport. If you do want to try, there are directions (in Korean) on the festival website.
Best time to visit the Chilgapsan Festival: The best time to visit this festival is in the afternoon so you can enjoy snowy sights during the day, but don’t have to wait so long for the sun to set and to see the night lights and illuminations. Avoid visiting during the weekends if you can as it will be very busy.
Is The Chilgapsan Festival Worth Visiting?
Should you visit the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival? In the words of my friend Tim, who kindly contributed a lot of the pictures for this article, this festival is, “Totally worth it!“. This festival has plenty to see and do and will keep people amused in the afternoon and evening. If you take a tour that also visits another winter destination, such as a strawberry farm, then it’s a great day trip from Seoul.
Families will find plenty to do with lots of the activities aimed at children, such as the sledding slope, horse rides, and the can sleigh. Even if you’re not travelling with children, the beautiful winter displays at the Chilgapsan festival offer couples and solo travellers the chance to take unique pictures with snowy backgrounds and icy buildings, sample traditional Korean snacks, and experience a Korean festival.
This festival is worth visiting, but please consider the weather during winter in Korea. It’s cold and dry, which can be tough for people not used to such conditions. Be sure to wrap up warm and bring skin cream to protect against the dryness. Gloves are a must and heat packs that go in your pockets can save your fingers. Be aware of the cold weather and you should be fine here.
A Special Thanks To Photos Of Korea
I want to give a big shout out and thanks to Tim from Photos of Korea for letting me use his incredible photos from this festival and for sharing his thoughts about the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival, which he visited in 2023. You can see loads of incredible pictures of Korea’s lesser-known locations and festivals from his Facebook page, Instagram page, and his uploads on Unsplash.
2024 Winter Festivals In Korea To See Snowy Sights
Besides this Korean ice fountain festival, there are many other winter festivals that you should check out for exciting activities, incredible views, and cultural immersion. These festivals introduce you to traditional Korean culture in beautiful surroundings and with lots of delicious Korean festival food. Here are some of the other major winter festivals you can see in Korea:
Garden of Morning Calm Winter Illuminations: Exploring sculpted gardens and electric forests when the sun has set is like entering into a magical world, a true winter fantasia with lots of photo opportunities. Every year the garden has a range of themed areas that focus on animals, plants, and even love for the sweethearts.
Seoul Lantern Festival: This dazzling festival is held in Gwanghwamun Square outside Gyeongbokgung Palace, which gives over it’s large pedestrianised areas to massive themed lantern installations. These installations feature different concepts each year like aquarium scenes, starry nights, nature landscapes, and Korean folktales.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival: This is one of Korea’s best winter festivals and made it into CNN’s top 7 ‘Wonder’s of Winter’ for a good reason. The Hwacheon Sancneoneo Ice Festival attracts over a million people each year to try ice fishing (with a rod or bare handed). There are winter activities, ice sculptures, and a Korean Winter Village with cultural games and Korean festival food.
Learn more: Discover all the best festivals to visit in Korea this winter with this guide to Korea’s winter festivals, which includes ice fishing festivals, illumination festivals, New Year festivals, and lots more.
Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival. These answers are based on my own experience and from research conducted to write this article.
When Is The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival?
The 2024 Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival runs from December 23rd until February 28th, 2024. The festival is open every day from 9:00am until 10:00pm.
Is There Much To See At The Chilgapsan Winter Festival?
There are lots of things to see at the Chilgapsan winter festival, including giant ice fountains, igloos, ice caves, and ice sculptures, such as trains and palaces made of ice. There are also activities such as sledding, a zip line, and horse riding.
Is the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival Worth Visiting?
If you want to see snowy winter sights in Korea, then the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival is certainly worth visiting. There are frozen displays that are available all winter and the festival has several snow machines to ensure there is snow covering everything. Families and couples will enjoy the sights and activities and it’s a great day trip out from Seoul.
How Far Is Chilgapsan From Seoul?
Chilgapsan is located in North Chungcheong Province and it takes about 3 and a half hours to get there from Seoul by car. Travelling there by public transport isn’t recommended as there are limited buses that go from the nearest train station, Gongju.
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