Spring, spring, spring is in the air and it is certainly in the steps of people walking on the sidewalks. As the days start to get longer and the sun warms up those gentle breezes, it’s a message for all that spring is on the way. However, it isn’t until those breezes start carrying the fresh scent of flowers that we really know that spring has truly arrived. From the iconic cherry blossoms to the Japanese dogwood’s flowering yellow blooms, the colorful petals will soon be out and proud. Of course, festivals are the best way to enjoy them as there will not only be blooms to view but good eats, street art, and more. Grab your spring attire, your camera, and some friends and take selfies galore with the best of the best in spring backdrops across the country.
Spring into: Nonsan Strawberry Festival
**** This festival has been cancelled this year. Please check the website for more information ****
On: March 30, 2016 – April 3, 2016
Start off this spring with strawberry blossoms. The quintessential spring fruit is celebrated in Korean fashion in Nonsan. Big, red, juicy strawberries, strawberry jam, chocolate-covered strawberries, and more fill the fairgrounds. Shuttle buses take festival goers to nearby strawberry fields to pick and fill up on as many juicy pieces of fruity goodness as they can. Only 1000 participants head into the fields each day, so stop at the tents to get your ticket first. Nonsan is the largest producer of this quintessential spring fruit, and your taste buds are sure to be delighted.
Get there: From Seoul Central City Terminal (Honam Line), take a bus to Nonsan (논산). Approx. travel time: 2 hrs * Bus schedule: 06:30 – 22:45, at 40 min intervals (Bus schedule is subject to change.)
From Nonsan Bus Terminal, cross the road. Take Bus 515, 516, 601, 602, 701 or 712 to Daegyodong (대교동) Bus Stop. From the bus stop, go straight for 100 m to arrive at the Nonsan Stream and Strawberry Field.
Spring into: Hwagae Cherry Blossoms Festival
On: April 1, 2016 – April 3, 2016
This festival is famous for having the 10-ri Cherry Blossom Road. The 10-ri road, also known as “the marriage road,” is about 4.5 kilometers long and has a lovely saying about lovers walking along the road living happily ever after if they make it the whole 4.5 kilometers. Don’t wear your heels ladies if you want to try it! The Hwagae area is said to look as if it’s covered in snow due to having so many cherry blossom trees blossoming at once. Take your special someone or go with some friends and be sure to bring a camera to see what the road foretells.
Get there: From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Hadong (하동). * Bus Schedule: 06:30, 08:00, 09:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30, 19:30, 22:00 – Get off at Hwagae Terminal (화계터미널). – Cross the Hwagaegyo Bridge, and go straight for 100 m to arrive at Hwagae Market.
Spring into: Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (Tongsin-dong, Jinhae-gu, Changwon-si, Gyeongsangnam-do)
On: April 1, 2016 – April 10, 2016
Jinhae boasts the largest cherry blossom festival on the peninsula and brings together both a welcoming to spring with abundant light pink petals and also celebrates Admiral Yi Sun Shin, the Korean naval commander famous for victories against the Japanese. The naval port city of Jinhae welcomes visitors with a victory parade and ceremony to honor the admiral and the Jinhae Military Band and Honor Guard play powerful and polished military music in full dress. Not usually open to the public, the naval base welcomes visitors each spring to celebrate amid the 100-year-old cherry blossom trees that flower around the base. The photogenic highlight of the festival is an 800 m stretch of train tracks by Gyeonghwa Station surrounded by flowering trees and a 1.5-kilometer-long stream lined with the pink flowers. To appreciate the natural beauty of Korea and to gain some cultural insight into history, head to Jinhae this spring.
Get there: From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Jinhae (진해). – From Jinhae Intercity Bus Terminal, go 30 m straight and turn right onto Jungwondong-ro (중원동로) Road. – Go 350 m straight, and stay left at the fork. – Go 230 m to arrive at the festival venue.
Spring into: Icheon Baeksa Sansuyu Flower Festival
On: April 1, 2016 – April 3, 2016
While Gurye hosts the larger sansuyu – or Japanese Dogwood festival – in late March, enjoy the yellow Japanese dogwood trees in full bloom just a half hour outside of Seoul in Icheon instead. Though Icheon’s celebration of the flowers is a bit smaller, the landscape is still gorgeous. Baeksa Village is host to dogwood trees that have been growing for more than 100 years. There will be a flower parade, traditional folk games, and lots of townie fun with some delicious local delicacies to try too. Get the hiking boots on to head up the mountain trails while in the area to really enjoy the scenery.
Get there: From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Icheon Terminal. – Get on 23-8 or 23-81 in front of the bus terminal. – Get off at Dorip-ri (도립리) Station. – Walk straight 60 m and turn left at Dorimniyukgoejeong (도립리육괴정). – Continue walking 166 m. * Bus Schedule at Icheon Terminal: 6:10-23:00, 20 min-40 min intervals / Estimated travel time: 1 hour
Spring into: Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival
On: TBC (www.gntour.go.kr)
Gangneung is a hot spot for many come summer for the gorgeous white sand beaches that lead into emerald blue waters. But in the spring, the nearby lake that sits just behind the famous beach is abloom with cherry blossoms. The walk around the lake is 4.3 kilometers long and lined with the blushing beauties. Alongside the blooming sights are flower exhibitions and other various cultural events to enjoy. The scenery is the large draw to the area with natural beauty galore. Also famous in the area is a salt water tofu dish that will fill the tummy and a quirky gramophone museum that’s worth a visit too.
Get there: From Seoul Express Bus Terminal, take bus to Gangneung. From Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus 202 to Gyeongpodae Beach. – Walk 212 m straight.
Spring into: Yeongdeungpo Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
On: April 4, 2016 – April 10, 2016
If leaving Seoul to see cherry blossoms just isn’t possible this year, enjoy the blooms on the capital’s doorstep. Seoul has cherry blossom trees dotted all over the city. Trees found in nearby parks and along boulevards will display the white and pink petal wonders all over town. The most popular place to see them by far is the road around the National Assembly building on Yeouido Island. Fifteen hundred cherry blossom trees line the road, which is blocked to traffic during the festival period to allow pedestrians full photo access. The trees are also lit up after sunset so they can be enjoyed at any hour, night and day. Helpful hint: head there early morning or fairly late to see the white and pink fluttering petals with as few people as possible crowding around the trees.
Get there: – Dangsan Station (Subway Line 2 or 9), Exit 4, 20 minute walk. – Yeouinaru Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 1, 20 minute walk. – Yeouido Station (Subway Line 5 or 9), Exit 5. Take Bus 162, 262, or 461 to National Assembly (국회앞).
– National Assembly Station (Subway Line 9), Exit 1 or 6, 5 minute walk.
Spring into: Jindo Mysterious Sea Route
On: April 7, 2016 – April 10, 2016
For something a little less flowery but still able to satisfy wanderlust, head to Jindo this spring. The Korean version of the Moses sea parting takes place in Jindo, the third largest island in Korea, each year and it is a must-see. The water parts and the masses of viewers pull up their thigh-high waders (because it’s still a bit muddy and mushy) and head out to cross the 2.8 kilometers from Jindo to a nearby island. While some head out with their buckets to collect the shellfish that just didn’t see the sea parting coming, others pick up their feet to get out to the island and back before the waters rise again 45 minutes later. It’s a great event on the southern coast of Korea complete with delicious food, enjoyable concerts and, of course, the beautiful coastal views.
Get there: Seoul – Jindo (The bus runs from the Central City Express Bus Terminal at 07:35, 09:00, 15:30 and 16:35 four times daily and the journey takes 5 hours 40 minutes.)
From Jindo-eup Bus Terminal, take a bus to Jindo Island or Hoedong-ri.
Spring into: Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
On: April 8, 2016 – April 10, 2016
While the entire city of Seoul will be awash with pink in the spring, there are a few hotspots for romantic views and Seokchon Lake is one of them. The lake is surrounded by cherry blossom trees blushing in the sunlight and couples strolling hand-in-hand near the water along with families and children frolicking beneath the trees. Performances, exhibitions, and other activities add to the fun. For some beautiful landscape views without all of the crowds, try to get there in the early morning or else crowds, crowds, and more crowds are sure to be enjoying the views too.
Jamsil Station (Seoul Subway Line 2 or 8), Exit 2 or 3. Seokchon Lake is located 200 m straight ahead.
Spring into: Gwangalli Eobang Festival
On: April 22, 2016 – April 24, 2016
While the other festivals in spring are about celebrating the blooms, the fest at Gwangalli Beach is all about jumping right into summer. While the water is likely to still be too cold to dive into, that won’t keep the summer dreamers away. Eobang is a word for the spirit of the fishermen and that spirit is felt in Busan. Bare-hand fishing, cooking contests, a tug-of-war, and loads of good food to chow down on will all be there and of course the views of the beautiful beach adds much to the enjoyment factor of this fest.
Get there: Gwangan Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 3 or 5. Walk straight for 600 m until you see Gwangalli Beach.
Hallie Bradley is a writer, educator, editor, and more who has lived in Korea since 2006. Check out her website TheSoulofSeoul.net for more articles on culture, Korean traditions and the life of her growing multicultural family in Korea.