The Best Winter Festivals In Korea You Must Visit In 2024

When winter chills sweep across Korea, they bring a season of enchanting festivals and events that add warmth and wonder to the long, cold months. As snow blankets mountain peaks and ice stretches across rivers, Korea comes alive with lively winter celebrations of seasonal foods, activities, lights, and heritage. Join me and discover all the best winter festivals in Korea.

Skate on frozen lakes, fish through holes in the ice, slide down snowy slopes, and marvel at illuminated landscapes glowing against the night – there are so many ways to embrace the magic of Korea’s winter! From frosty ice fishing festivals that turn into carnivals on ice to beaches that brighten the shore with artistic light sculptures, Korea puts on an incredible festival spread all winter long.

In this article I’ll introduce you to snowy adventures, eye-popping light displays, fishy festivals, and exciting New Year’s festivities. Bundle up, grab your mittens, and get ready to join in the frozen fun as we explore these fantastic winter festivals across Korea that you won’t want to miss!

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Why Visit Korean Winter Festivals In 2024?

People watching fireworks at winter festivals in Korea

Winter in Korea might be cold with early sunsets, but it’s also filled with blue skies, little rain, and lots of beautiful winter festivals that will cheer you up and wash away the winter blues. These frosty festivities provide the chance to see and join in unique Korean cultural celebrations that go back centuries.

Catching trout bare-handed in freezing waters, strolling hand-in-hand through magical illuminations, sledding down snowy slopes, or contemplating all the New Year has to offer you. There are so many incredible winter festivals in Korea that will make your trip to Korea an unforgettable adventure.

Perhaps the main reasons you should visit a Korean winter festival (or two) is that they’re a lot of fun, provide lots of unique opportunities to experience Korean culture, and look great in your travel photos. And if you’re from a country that doesn’t get much snow, it might be your best chance to enjoy it.

There are many awesome winter festivals to check out if you’re in Korea during winter that I’m sure you’ll love. Click the links below to jump to those festivals, or read on to discover all the festivals in this article. There are delicious Korean winter food festivals to check out at the end, too.

ice Fishing Festivals

Illumination Festivals

Snow & Ice Festivals

New Year Festivals

My Favourite Winter Festivals In Korea

Man in deep snow during winter in Korea

There are so many astounding winter festivals in Korea, it’s hard to choose just 3. I love fun festivals where you can get your hands dirty and try something unique. I also enjoy learning about culture and witnessing something I can’t see back home, which is why I chose these Korean winter festivals.

1: Hwacheon Sancheono Ice Fishing Festival – this was one of my first festivals in Korea and I can still remember the taste of my freshly caught trout, sliding around on the ice, the beautiful night lights, and all the fun I had there. It really is a completely Korean experience.

2: Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival – the sights and colours at this winter festival are amazing, and really helped brighten up a dull wintry day. These gardens are a great place to check out any time of year, but even more so during the dark nights of a Korean winter.

3: Bosingak Bell Ringing New Year’s Eve Festival – I love to join in any kind of traditional festival when possible, and seeing in the New Year with something a bit different makes it a lot more memorable. Don’t miss the chance to see something unique as the New Year approaches.

2024 Korean Winter Festival Summary

Winter lantern festival in Seoul

There are so many winter festivals in Korea to check out from December to February. To help you see what festivals are on when you’re visiting, here’s a summary of the festivals by month. These festivals are included in the article and you can find more information about each in the following sections.

Please note, some festivals last for several months and therefore are included more than once.

December FestivalsJanuary FestivalsFebruary Festivals
Bosingak Bell Ringing New Year’s Eve FestivalBusan Christmas Tree Cultural FestivalChilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival
Busan Christmas Tree Cultural FestivalChilgapsan Ice Fountain FestivalGarden Of Morning Calm Winter Illuminations
Chilgapsan Ice Fountain FestivalDaegwallyeong Snowflake FestivalHerb Island Light Festival
Garden Of Morning Calm Winter IlluminationsGanjeolgot Sunrise FestivalsSanjeong Lake Sledding Festival
Haeundae Beach Lighting FestivalGarden Of Morning Calm Winter IlluminationsUljin Snow Crab Festival
Herb Island Light FestivalGyeongpo & Jeongdongjin Sunrise FestivalsWinter Strawberry Picking Festival
Lotte World Tower New Year’s Eve FireworksHaeundae Beach Lighting Festival
Pyeongchang Trout Ice Fishing FestivalHerb Island Light Festival
Sanjeong Lake Sledding FestivalHomigot New Year Sunrise Festival
Seoul Lantern FestivalHwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival
Seoul Winter FestaInje Ice Fishing Festival
Winter Strawberry Picking FestivalJeju Seongsan New Year Sunrise Festival
Pyeongchang Trout Ice Fishing Festival
Sanjeong Lake Sledding Festival
Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival
Seoul Winter Festa
Winter Strawberry Picking Festival
List of winter festivals in Korea

Recommended Tours To Korean Winter Festivals

Why not take a day trip to a fun festival this winter? Travelling to Korea’s winter festivals by public transport can sometimes take longer and be more difficult than a guided tour. Here’s a collection of the best winter festival tours leaving from Seoul and Busan that you can add to your Korean itinerary.

Winter Festival Tours Leaving From Seoul:

Winter Festival Tours Leaving From Busan:

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.

Visas & K-ETA: Some travellers to Korea need a Tourist Visa, but most can travel with a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA). Currently 22 Countries don’t need either one.

How To Stay Connected: Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport (desks open 24-hours). Alternatively, download a Korean eSIM for you travels.

Where To Stay: For Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). For Busan, Haeundae (Beach) or Seomyeon (Downtown).

Incheon Airport To Seoul: Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a Limo Bus across Seoul. Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.

Korean Tour Operators: Tour companies that have a big presence in Korea include Klook, Trazy, Viator, and Get Your Guide. These sites offer discounted entry tickets for top attractions.

Seoul City Passes: Visit Seoul’s top attractions for free with a Discover Seoul Pass or Go City Seoul Pass. These passes are great for families and couples visiting Seoul – you can save lots.

How To Get Around: For public transport, grab a T-Money Card. Save money on Korea’s high speed trains with a Korea Rail Pass. To see more of Korea, there are many rental car options from Klook, EconomyBookings, and RentalCars.

Travel Money: Use money exchanges near Myeongdong and Hongdae subway stations for the best exchange rates. Order a Wise Card or WOWPASS to pay by card across Korea.

Flights To Korea: I use flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner to find the best flights to Korea from any country. Air Asia is a good option for budget flights from Asia.

Travel Insurance: It is important to insure your trips to protect yourself against the unexpected. World Nomad is a specialized travel insurance provider with options for different coverage for travellers from around the world. You can also purchase cover when you are already travelling.

How To Learn Korean: The language course from 90 Day Korean or Korean Class 101 both have well-structured lessons and lots of useful resources to help you learn Korean.

Ice Fishing Festivals In Korea 2024

Ice fishing at a winter festival in Korea
Ice fishing at a winter festival in Korea

The very first winter festival I visited in Korea was an ice fishing festival in Hwacheon and it was an absolute blast. Ice fishing has long been a traditional winter activity in Korea that is now celebrated at various festivals across the country and open for travellers to Korea to enjoy.

These festivals, held in January and February, contain a lot more than what the name suggests. Combining ice fishing with other winter activities, such as ice sledding, bare-hand fishing, ice sports, ice sculptures, and snowy displays, ice fishing festivals in Korea provide a whole day of fun.

The main reason to visit one of these winter festivals is to try your hand at ice fishing. When you go ice fishing, you’ll be given a small fishing rod and bag for your catch. Slide over the icy river or lake to an available hole and begin fishing for your lunch. Once you’ve caught a fish or two (and taken a few pictures for social media), take it back to get grilled and savour the taste of your hard-earned catch.

Here are 3 of the best ice fishing festivals in Korea in 2024 for you to enjoy:

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival 2024

The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is one of Korea’s most popular winter festivals held every January along a frozen river in Hwacheon County. Drawing over a million visitors each year, this iconic festival celebrates the mountain trout fish (sancheoneo) that live in the clean waters of the river.

Ice fishing sites, which come with all necessary equipment, are set up along the 1.5km stretch of frozen river where visitors can try ice fishing. Other activities include ice sledding, ice sports, and riding down the river on tube rafts, which is a lot of fun and what I spent a lot of time doing at this festival.

I recommend staying until it gets dark as at night the ice glows with colourful lights and sculptures and there are winter lights on display. Festival highlights are the ice fishing competition and the grand prize draw for all who catch a fish with their bare hands in the freezing pools!

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Jan 6 – Jan 28 2024

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival Location:
강원 화천군 화천읍 중리 187-15

Pyeongchang Trout Ice Fishing Festival 2024

Home to the 2018 Winter Olympics, you can understand why Pyeongchang would be the perfect place to host another of the best winter festivals in Korea. As with the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival, the main draw at this festival is the chance to catch your lunch in the frozen waters.

Head over to the large icy river and get ready to fish. There are also many fun events held throughout the festival, such as bare-handed fish catching (only for the very brave), sledding, snow rafting, and sleigh trains. You can even rent an ATV and go zooming about through the snowy landscape.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Dec 29 2023 – Jan 28 2024

Pyeongchang Trout Festival Location:
강원 평창군 진부면 하진부리 1289-80

Inje Ice Fishing Festival 2024

This winter festival has a lot more to offer than just ice fishing. Running for more than 20 years now, the Inje Ice Fishing Festival has developed a range of other activities to enjoy. You can find family-friendly areas such as the Ice Playground and Snow Playground.

There are loads of ice and snow-based activities and sports for all ages. Learn to sled and ski, or just play around with the various slides and build a snowman. If you want to learn more about how Koreans survive the cold weather, visit the mountain village and join the cultural exhibitions and activities there.

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Jan 20 – Jan 29 2024 (TBC)

Inje Ice Fishing Festival Location:
강원 인제군 남면 부평리 555-2

Yangpyeong Ice Fish Festival

The Yangpyeong Ice Fish Festival is held in the Soomy Village resort, which is a couple of hours away from Seoul. This winter ice fishing festival runs from December to February and hosts a range of activities for families and other visitors to enjoy. Besides ice fishing, you can experience kite-flying, top spinning, sledding, and making traditional Korean snacks (jin-bang).

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Dec 9 – Feb 26 2024

Yangpyeong Ice Fish Festival Location:
경기도 양평군 단월면 곱다니길 55-2

Other ice fishing festivals that might be on but I can’t confirm:

  • Hongcheon Ggong Ggong River Ginseng Trout Festival 2024

Winter Light Festivals Across Korea

Winter illumination festival in Korea

With the advent of winter in Korea, cities across the country light up with magical illumination and light festivals. These dazzling winter events feature artistic light installations, massive LED displays, neon sculptures, and seas of sparkling bulbs that transform cities into winter wonderlands.

Korea’s winter light festivals are a feast for the eyes and spirit, spreading joy during the long, cold nights. Families, couples, or anyone who wants to see magical wintry wonderlands as the sun sets will certainly enjoy these festivals. I go every year and never fail to be impressed with the displays.

The winter days are short and the sun sets early in Korea, making it the perfect time of year for bright and colourful lights. You’ll find many brilliant light displays in places that are usually areas of natural beauty throughout the rest of the year, as well as in popular city-centre areas and attractions.

Here are 5 of the best winter illumination festivals in Korea in 2024 for you to enjoy:

Garden of Morning Calm Winter Illuminations 2024

Another of my favourite Korean winter festivals, the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival is one of the top spots to visit during the dark, wintry days. What makes this so special is the effort they put into making everything so colourful and alive with lights, even when the plants aren’t so alive.

Walking with your loved ones through these 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.

If you take a guided tour from Seoul during winter, it’s almost guaranteed the final stop will be at the Garden of Morning Calm on the way back to the city. You only need a couple of hours to take everything in, and it’s only an hour from Seoul so you can be back in time for a late dinner in town.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Dec 01 2023 – Mar 17 2024

Garden of Morning Calm Location:
경기 가평군 상면 수목원로 432

Herb Island Light Festival 2024

The Herb Island Lighting Festival in winter and allows travellers to see Herb Garden, which is a popular destination year-round, transformed into a glittering winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling bulbs and light installations. The entire garden is electrified with millions of little lights.

This winter festival is a place for lovers to share a romantic stroll along the Magic Road, adorned with shimmering lights shaped like herbs, flowers, butterflies and other pretty designs. Friends can make lasting memories of their adventures together crossing the glowing arch of the Rainbow Bridge.

Sparkling tunnels of light and fluorescent mushroom sculptures make for whimsical photo ops that the whole family will enjoy. In the evenings, the lights sync with music for delightful performances. I recommend warming up with a hot herbal tea, fresh from the surrounding gardens.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Nov 2023 – Mar 2024

Herb Island Location:
경기 포천시 신북면 청신로947번길 51

Seoul Lantern Festival 2024

I love travelling to Seoul during winter, especially in the build up to Christmas as you can see lots of Christmassy scenes that remind me of home. One of my favourite festivals in Seoul during winter is therefore the Seoul Lantern Festival, which puts on a festive display of lights and lanterns.

This dazzling festival is held in the newly converted Gwanghwamun Square outside Gyeongbokgung Palace, which gives over it’s large pedestrianised areas to massive themed lantern installations. These installations are definitely the main draw, featuring different concepts each year like aquarium scenes, starry nights, nature landscapes, and Korean folktales. Last year there was a giant rabbit.

The Seoul Lantern Festival’s illuminated sculptures and immersive atmosphere attract over 2 million visitors every year, including me, making it one of Korea’s brightest and most popular winter lights events. If you want to experience a blend of Korean culture and winter lights in Seoul, visit here.

Festival Dates:
Dec 19 – Dec 31 2023

Seoul Lantern Festival Location:
서울 종로구 세종대로 175 세종이야기

Seoul Winter Festa 2024

The Seoul Lantern Festival is part of the wider Seoul Winter Festa, which includes light displays at the newly opened Gwanghwamun Square (Seoul Light Gwanghwamun) and Songhyeon Green Plaza (Light Festa in Songhyeon). There’s also the impressive Seoul Light DDP where you can see digital light displays on the side of the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza. That runs from December 21st until 31st.

Festival Dates:
Dec 15 2023 – Jan 21 2024

Seoul Light Gwanghwamun Location:
서울 종로구 효자로 12 국립고궁박물관

Haeundae Beach Lighting Festival 2024

The Haeundae Lighting Festival covers Busan’s Haeundae beach in glittering lights and illuminations during the dark winter when it’s too cold to go swimming in the sea. As one of Korea’s largest winter light festivals, Haeundae features a dazzling array of over 800,000 LED lights and installations.

Gunam-ro Street becomes a neon forest with towering light tree sculptures. Along Haeundae Beach, light structures create aquatic scenes like waves, jellyfish, and glowing reefs in the sand. Meanwhile, Dalmaji Hill is covered in romantic illuminations for couples to stroll through.

I highly recommend spending an evening visiting this winter festival and grabbing a hot drink to watch the light shows choreographed to music. There’s also a show on Haeundae Beach with lasers and fireworks over the sea. This is certainly a very impressive and photo-worthy winter festival.

Festival Dates:
Dec 2 2023 – Jan 31 2024

Haeundae Beach Lighting Festival Location:
부산 해운대구 중동 1411-23

Busan Christmas Tree Cultural Festival 2024

Located in Busan’s bustling downtown Nampo area, close to Jagalchi Market and popular Busan attractions, is the Busan Christmas Tree Culture Festival. If you’re in Busan and want Christmassy sights, this is absolutely a winter festival you shouldn’t miss and probably can’t miss as a tourist.

Wandering around the streets of Busan during this festival is like walking the streets of London or New York, with rows of Christmas lights, a giant Christmas tree, musical performances, and lots of other Christmassy events going on in the area. There are even reindeer and snowman lanterns to see.

Festival Dates:
Dec 8 – Jan 14 2024

Busan Christmas Tree Festival Location:
부산 중구 광복로 72-1

Jeju Light Garden Winter Illuminations

Opened in 2017, the Jeju Light Garden is a large garden that spans more than 11,900 square meters of Jeju’s beautiful lowlands and immerses visitors in a fantasy world of vibrant lighting displays synchronised to music. This is not technically a winter festival, but it’s a great place to see winter lights.

The garden is comprised of themed sections like the Rainbow Bridge, Water Light Cave, Moonlight Garden, and Jeju Forest, utilising thousands of LED lights to create stunning visual effects. Intricate animal light sculptures, neon portraits, and dynamic light tunnels reflect off the surfaces at night.

Visitors can take a romantic stroll along the illuminated walking paths and bridges to admire the bright splendour. With shows choreographed nightly to Korean pop songs and classical music, the Jeju Light Garden provides a whimsical ambience unlike anywhere else on the island.

Open Dates:
Nov 2023 – Mar 2024

Jeju Light Garden Location:
제주 제주시 애월읍 평화로 2346

Other winter illumination light festivals that might be on but I can’t confirm:

  • Boseong Green Tea Plantation Winter Light Festival 2024
  • DDP Light & Winter Festa Festival 2024

Korean Snow & Ice Festivals 2024

Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival Korea
Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival Korea. Image Credit: Photos of Korea

For winter lovers like me, Korea has no shortage of frosty festivals focused on snow and ice activities. Head to Korea’s snowy countryside regions, which are mostly in the north, to discover opportunities for skating on frozen lakes, sledding down mountains, building snowmen, and more snowy fun.

From elaborate snow and ice sculptures to professional ice carving contests, these festivals showcase stunning frozen creations while giving you a chance to see Korea’s rural charm. Put on your warmest winter gear and get ready to have fun in the Korean snow at these terrific winter festivals.

It doesn’t always snow in Korea, but when it does, the sights are breathtaking, with snow-capped peaks, blanketed trees, and shimmering frost-covered waters. I highly recommend getting out of the big cities if you want to see snow in Korea as it’s colder and the snow stays around longer.

Here are 4 of the best snow and ice festivals in Korea in 2024 for you to enjoy:

Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival 2024

The Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival is a lesser-known gem among Korea’s winter festivals, but is fast becoming a must-see destination as a day trip from Seoul due to the unique ice fountains. There’s also a lot of delicious Korean winter foods to try, such as roasted chestnuts you cook yourself.

The centrepiece of the festival is its majestic ice fountains, where water sprays from the ground and freezes, creating towering, shimmering structures that resemble frozen waterfalls. These ice fountains, like an enchanting ice kingdom, look best during the night when they are set aglow with colour.

Apart from the ice fountains, this Korean winter festival offers a variety of other snowy activities for you to enjoy. You can try ice sledding, ice climbing, and traditional Korean games. Children and those young at heart can play around the many snowmen and ice sculptures, perfect for photo opportunities.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook. Please note, this is called the Cheongyang Ice Fountain Festival, but it is the same location. Cheongyang is the area, Chilgapsan is the mountain.

Festival Dates:
Dec 23 2023 – Feb 28 2024

Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival Location:
충남 청양군 정산면 천장리 226-35

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival 2024

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival, located in picturesque Taebaeksan National Park, is a great place for snow lovers to enjoy winter festivities in rural Korea. Walk among gigantic snow and ice sculptures, join in the various fun activities on offer in this mountainous area, and try hiking, too.

There’s more to do here than just see the snow and natural beauty of Taebaeksan. For example, you can enjoy snow sliding, snow hiking, pop into an ice igloo, and see the various performances. Come on the weekend during the daytime for the performances, or any time for snowy beauty.

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Jan 25 – Jan 29 2024 (TBC)

Taebaeksan Mountain Festival Location:
강원 태백시 태백산로 4834-31

Daegwallyeong Snowflake Festival 2024

A family-friendly fun festival for lovers of snow, the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival is a good day out from Seoul or Busan. Located in the ‘Alps of Korea’, this festival is packed full of fun activities in the snow. Try snow sledding and enjoy sliding down the snowy slopes and into the soft snow below.

Furthermore, you can walk around huge ice sculptures representing building-sized structures, such as castles, people, characters, and more. There’s also performances during the day, parades, and a fireworks show to light up the skies at night, as well as obligatory night illuminations all around.

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Jan 20 – Jan 29 2024 (TBC)

Daegwallyeong Snowflake Festival Location:
강원 평창군 대관령면 사부랑길 224-2

Sanjeong Lake Sledding Festival 2024

This is not really a festival, but it’s a cute destination outside of Seoul that’s lots of fun, especially if you’re travelling with children. The Sanjeong Lake Sledding Festival is held on Sanjeong Lake when it’s frozen over with thick layers of ice and you can safely enjoy sledding and riding and falling over.

Children will love a ride on the bright yellow duck sled train, which looks like something out of a fairy tale, or riding on a penguin pedal bike. When it snows, this area is gorgeous, with soft snow covering everything. Relax and stay warm at the food stalls, amusement park, and other attractions.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Dec 21 – Feb 09 2024

Sanjeong Lake Sledding Festival Location:
경기 포천시 영북면 산정호수로411번길 108

Other snow and ice winter festivals that might be on but I can’t confirm:

  • Jaraseom Singsing Winter Festival
  • Go-Go Ski Festival at High1 Ski Resort
  • Gangwon Snow Festa

2024 New Year Festivals In Korea

New Year's Eve Fireworks Festival in Busan

As the winter chill sets in, Korea comes alive with festivals and events to welcome the start of a fresh year according to both the solar and lunar calendars. Yes, there are two new years in Korea, one on January 1st, and one that changes based on the lunar calendar, which is called Seollal.

Major New Year’s Eve festivals include the spectacular Bosingak Bell Ringing in Seoul and firework celebrations across the country to welcome the start of the new year. There are also traditional New Year’s Day events where Koreans watch the first sunrise of the new year by heading to the East Coast.

These lively festivals feature bell ringing ceremonies, fireworks shows, cultural performances, delicious holiday food, traditional games, and so much more. In Seoul, countdown festivities centre around Bosingak Bell and Seoul Plaza Ice Skating Rink and are free to enter, but might be rather crowded.

Seollal brings Koreans together to hold ancestral memorial rituals, dress in colourful hanbok, play folk games, and honour Korean heritage. There aren’t really any winter festivals in Korea that celebrate Seollal, but it’s a great time to be in Seoul as some attractions are free and certainly less crowded.

Here are 5 of the best New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day festivals in Korea in 2024:

Bosingak Bell Ringing New Year’s Eve Festival 2024

If you’re in Seoul for the New Year and want to join the locals in welcoming in the year ahead, head to Jongno for the Bosingak Bell Ringing ceremony. At the stroke of midnight, people will crowd around the gigantic bell in the Buddhist shrine and watch together as the bell rings out for the New Year.

Join in as people cheer and watch hundreds of balloons fly into the sky, celebrating the start of a new year and new opportunity for fortune and happiness in the year ahead. Bell ringing ceremonies take place at midnight across the country and you can find them in other major cities across Korea.

Festival Date:
Dec 31 2023

Bosingak Bell Ringing Ceremony Location:
서울 종로구 종로 54 보신각

Lotte World Tower New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Winter festivals in Korea are often breathtaking, but few can compare to the sight of the world’s 6th tallest building alight with fire and colours on all 123 levels. With fireworks shooting off in all directions, reflected in the gorgeous Seokchon Lake below, this will be a sight not to miss.

If the celebrations for 2024 are the same as 2023, Lotte will put on a grand spectacle to welcome in the new year with 555 seconds of fireworks. This represents the 555 metres of the skyscraper. The festival starts at 8:30 pm with performances and attractions going on before the main event at midnight.

Festival Date:
Dec 31 2023

Lotte World Tower Location:
서울 송파구 올림픽로 300

If you want to see what the fireworks at the Lotte World Tower look like, here’s a video of them from last year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Lotte tower fireworks New Year  2023
New Year Fireworks at the Lotte World Tower in Seoul

Homigot New Year Sunrise Festival 2024

Join thousands of Koreans celebrating the New Year by watching the very first sunrise of the year at Homgiot Sunrise Square. Wake up early, or stay out late, and see the sun hitting the crisp waves on the horizon. This is one of those winter festivals in Korea that is perfect if you’re alone or with others.

This particular New Year sunrise festival is the best place to see the first sunrise in Korea as Homigot Village near Pohang is the eastern-most point on the Korean peninsula. Therefore, it sees the sun before anyone else in the country. Be the first to welcome the New Year with this fun festival

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Dec 31 2023 – Jan 01 2024

Homigot New Year Sunrise Location:
경북 포항시 남구 호미곶면 대보리

Jeju Seongsan New Year Sunrise Festival 2024

Situated at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is certainly a unique place to watch the sun rise in the New Year. The Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is a volcanic cone rising out of the sea and connecting to Jeju Island. It offers fantastic views of the sea and the glowing light of the first sunrise of the year.

This is a very special location for Koreans due to it’s unique geography. It has been a famous spot for watching the sunrise since at least the 13th Century. The festival provides a chance to learn more about Korea’s rich history and to join in cultural activities and games before exploring Jeju in winter.

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Dec 31 2023 – Jan 01 2024

Seongsan New Year Sunrise Location:
제주 서귀포시 성산읍 성산리 78

Gyeongpo & Jeongdongjin Sunrise Festivals 2024

If you’re staying in Seoul but want to watch the first sunrise of the year on the beach, then the easiest way is to head over to Gangneung and visit Gyeongpo Beach. This is one of my favourite summer beach destinations and easily accessible from Seoul thanks to the KTX high-speed train.

Not only is there the New Year sunrise to watch, there are also celebrations the night before right on the beach. Head to the beach for New Year’s Eve and watch fireworks shoot off over the rocking sea. Then stay warm in the bars and cafes along the coast. Once you’re done celebrating, check out Gangneung’s great cafes and keep staring out into the distance with a hot coffee.

There are currently no tours available, but there may be closer to the start of the festival.

Festival Dates:
Dec 31 2023 – Jan 01 2024

Gyeongpo New Year Sunrise Location:
강원도 강릉시 안현동 산1

Ganjeolgot Sunrise Festival 2024

If you’re near Ulsan at the start of the year, head to Ganjeolgot Cape and watch the New Year sunrise from the viewing spot above the rocky slopes. You can see some impressive views of the sunrise and join in with hundreds of other revellers in this popular sunrise point close to Ulsan. Stand in silence, clasp your hands together, and make a wish for the year ahead.

You can join this festival with a tour from Klook.

Festival Dates:
Dec 31 2023 – Jan 01 2024

Ganjeolgot New Year Sunrise Location:
울산 울주군 서생면 대송리

If you’re interested in seeing the sunrise on January 1st on Korea’s East Coast, here’s a tour that will take you to a lovely beach in Sokcho.

Other New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day festivals that might be on but I can’t confirm:

  • Sampo Beach New Year’s Eve Fireworks Festival 2024
  • Jeongdongjin New Year Sunrise Festival 2024
  • Seogwipo Winter Sea International Penguin Swimming Festival 2024

About Seollal – New Year’s Day In Korea

There’s not just one New Year in Korea, but two. The Korean New Year, known as Seollal, is based on the lunar calendar and occurs sometime in January or February. Seollal spreads over several days and is one of two long public holidays in Korea – the other being Chuseok in autumn.

The dates for Seollal for the next three years are as follows:

YearSeollal DatesDays
20249 Feb to 11 FebFri to Sun*
202528 Jan to 30 JanTue to Thu
202616 Feb to 18 FebMon to Wed

*When major Korean holidays such as Seollal or Chuseok fall on a Sunday, there is often an extra day off granted so people get more time off work / school. It’s likely that the February 12th will be an extra holiday to account for the Sunday Seollal date in 2024.

Whilst there aren’t many big festivals occurring during Seollal, as Koreans spend time with their families, this is a great time to visit Korea. Seoul’s royal palaces, including Gyeongbokgung, are free to enter and there are cultural events put on to celebrate Korea’s rich cultural heritage.

Korean Winter Food Festivals 2024

Uljin Snow Crab Festival Parade
Uljin Snow Crab Festival Parade

If you’re a fan of Korean winter food, these tasty festivals will have your mouth watering. Although winter isn’t normally associated with food festivals, which are abundant in autumn harvest time, there’s still a few winter fruits and foods for you to enjoy eating, including winter strawberries and snow crabs.

For those visiting Jeju Island during winter, be sure to check out the tangerines and hallabong (big oranges). Winter is when they’re in season and you can find them in traditional markets for low prices. They’re sweet and juicy and absolutely irresistible – my favourite winter snack for sure.

Here are 2 Korean winter food festivals for you to visit in Korea in 2024:

Winter Strawberry Picking Festival

Winter welcomes the start of strawberry season in Korea, one of the juiciest times of year. There are several places to go strawberry picking, including in the major strawberry producing regions, Nonsan (Nonsan Strawberry Festival) and Yangpyeong (Yangpyeong Strawberry Festival). You’ll find big, juicy strawberries as you wander through the fields, picking them to eat later, or right then.

There are usually a feast of other activities at these festivals, such as strawberry cake making, strawberry jam making, and lots of other strawberry-based activities. Get your gardening gloves on and go out into the strawberry fields to gather some of the abundant red gems to fill your belly.

The easiest way to experience strawberry picking is with a tour from Klook. These tours typically stop at these festivals as part of a day trip that also visits other popular destinations in the area.

Strawberry Picking Dates:
Dec 2023 – Feb 2024

Nonsan Strawberry Festival Location:
충남 논산시 체육로 110 논산시민운동장

Uljin Snow Crab Festival

The Uljin Snow Crab Festival is dedicated to Uljin’s local delight, the snow crab. Whilst this might lack the glamour and excitement of other big winter festivals, it’s a chance to see how small town Korea celebrates. Witness the crab fancy-dress parade, crab fishing, and music performances. And, of course, try some delicious local crabs for dinner – perfect during a cold winter’s day.

Festival Dates:
Feb 23 – Feb 26 2024 (TBC)

Uljin Snow Crab Festival Location:
경북 울진군 후포면 울진대게로 236-14

Guide To Visiting Korean Winter Festivals

Korean palace with winter snow

Here’s a brief guide to surviving and enjoying winter in Korea. There are a few things you’ll need to consider when you travel at this time, including the weather, getting around, and where to stay.

Weather In Korea During Winter:

There is no guarantee about how the weather will be during winter in Korea, except that it’s going to be cold and dry. Be sure to pack lots of skin cream as the dry air can be tough on your skin. Snow falls mostly in January and February, although you can also see some in December and March if you’re lucky. The snow is not constant, but can fall for up to a week at a time when it does arrive.

From late November the temperature quickly drops below 0 degrees Celsius at night and the days will be below 0 most of the time during January and February. The coldest I’ve seen the temperature drop was -18 Celsius at night. Make sure you bring lots of cold-weather clothes, such as a padded jacket and gloves, etc. Most indoor places and public transport will be well heated, no worries.

Getting To Winter Festivals In Korea:

Travelling around Korea is actually really easy, even if you don’t speak much Korean. There are great public transport options available in English, especially in big cities such as Seoul and Busan. To get around on all public transport, and taxis, too, you should definitely get a Korean transportation card such as the T-Money Card. You can buy one at Incheon Airport when you arrive in Korea.

Use apps and websites to help you navigate public transport in Korea. The best ones that I use regularly are Naver Map for planning where to go and Papago to translate any Korean into English. To book trains, use the Korea Rail website for train tickets between cities. You can book a taxi really easily using the Kakao Taxi app to call a taxi directly to your location.

Travelling outside of the big cities, however, can be a bit more difficult as there are not so many buses or trains and fewer English translations. Seeing as a lot of these festivals are in the countryside, you might want to consider booking a tour to travel to remote winter festivals. That’s why I’ve included tour links to festivals when I think it’ll save you time and hassle vs. trying to get there on public transport.

If you want to book a tour in Korea, I recommend using one of these tour companies:

Seasonal Guides For Korea:

I think you’ll love these winter festivals and chances are you’ll want to come to Korea again later. No worries, I’ve got you covered for the other seasons in Korea, too. Check out my season-specific guides to Korea that will help you plan more amazing journeys in the Land of the Morning Calm.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Joel, I'm the author of In My Korea and writer of this article. I've lived, worked and travelled in Korea since 2015 and want to share my insights, stories and tips to help you have the best experience during your trip to Korea.

I love learning more about Korean culture, hiking the many mountains, and visiting all the coolest places in Korea, both modern and traditional. If you want to know more about my story, check out the 'about me' section to learn why I love living in Korea.

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