Hi Seoul Festival, Friendship Fair, & Buddha’s Birthday Parade

A trio of festivals in the same city at the same time – all within walking distance of each other? Wow – where else would I be? Oh, that’s right – downtown Seoul at it’s finest.

Note that trying to condense three festivals into a set of twenty pictures of less was frikkin’ hard. For even more picture goodness, open up this Flickr set for several dozen more.

Jogyesa features a ceiling of lanterns over much of their open space.

The K-blogosphere seems to have beat me to the punch here – Robert Koehler’s two posts on the parade festivities are worth reading, while the Qi Ranger spent more time over at the Hi Seoul Festival and Jason Teale’s sweetly saturated pictures are available on his Flickr stream. There’s plenty of photographic goodness to go around, of course!


Personally, I spent a bit more time around Jogyesa and the pretties. This tunnel of white lanterns is a wonderful photo op, although I didn’t make it back here at night when they were lit.

Right next to Cheonggyecheon started one of Hi Seoul’s Festival’s non-verbal performances – entitled ‘Memories’, the daily scenes of Cheonggyecheon was shown with humor and mime.

And then there’s the Seoul Friendship Fair! One part cultural performance, one part ethnic food and drink from the world over, and a great chance to meet foreigners that don’t teach English.

Near the Angolan tent were a couple of dancers dancing the Kizomba – while it looked a bit like the samba, the music was distinctly African.

After a couple of beers from the Germany tent, some pleasant conversation with a fellow waygook, and a sausage from the English tent, I eventually made my way to the corner across from the stage and not far from Jogyesa – supposedly a prime place to see the parade.

Buddha and white elephants go hand-in-hand.

I really loved how the colors turned out.

The owls, they are a-watching.

Sometimes the side profile reminds you of the depth these lanterns offer.

A slight crop to remove some dark space – better that than cut off half of the subject because you’re zoomed in too far.

A dancer on top of the lotus flower lantern.

After the parade came to the end, the street opened up and the crowd ran to get good positions in front of the stage for the after-parade party.

Your fairly typical songs and dances – if you’ve stood outside some of the Dongdaemun shops or around the Myeongdong area, you’ve seen much the same thing.

After the parade, the lanterns were lined up – either for easier disassembly or to make photo ops with the lanterns that much easier.

The next day, I stuck around the area for a second helping:

Now back to the Seoul Friendship Fair, where a dancer kept the crowd clapping and the photographers moving.

Over to the Hi Seoul Festival’s non-verbal open contest, where groups came to the stage to perform their own non-verbal acts. A quintet of actual swordplay and metal-on-metal seemed straight out of a movie.

A troupe of young belly dancers – shimmies and rolls with surprising technique. They don’t seem to make belly dancing tops in child’s sizes, however.

Meandering down the Cheonggyecheon stream -get tangled in the ribbons or tie your wishes onto one of the ribbons.

I’m sorry to say that most of the festivities are over for now – next spring will feature these same events – although probably not on the same weekend.

For even more picture goodness, open up this Flickr set for several dozen more.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
Ease to arrive:


Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

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