For many, the summer signals an end to gloomy evenings and presents an open invitation to outdoor activity. Yes, it’s time to rummage through that wardrobe, dig out those brightly colored tank tops and seasonal shorts and head outdoors. Finally, balconies have been opened up for many to enjoy a huge helping of cold drinks and shelter from the sweltering heat. The outdoors also means a plethora of summer festivals are here too and if music isn’t your thing, then there’s still something to enjoy. This selection of alternative festivals caters to anyone from the nature lover to the chicken and beer enthusiast so find the one that is just right for whatever summer fun you’re into.
Best for: Mud Fun In The Sun
When: July 17 ~ 26, 2015
Where: Daecheon Beach, Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do
For some serious mud fun in the sun, everyone knows about the Boryeong Mud Festival. Now in its 18th year, the Mudfest has become one of the biggest events of the summer season. With 136 kilometers of coastline in Boryeong supplying sea-mud rich in minerals, germanium, natrium, magnesium and other vitamins, there is no shortage of the brown stuff that is said to aid in skin beauty. Locals believe the mud vitalizes skin elasticity, helps blood circulation, cleans out the pores and detoxifies among many other great benefits. However, while the main events of the fest originally started due to the purported benefits of a good soak in the murky stuff in the mud-rich area of Boryeong, it’s now become more infamous among visitors for the amount of mud-slinging, sliding, throwing and drenching opportunities that the festival brings. Although the mud is the biggest draw for this event, everything from a mud pit, slides covered in mud and even a mud jail keep visitors occupied while truly make that skin glow. There is also a rather good size beach on site to make the cleaning up part just as fun. Take a dip in the sea, enjoy the summer sun and take in some of the performances and concerts that are provided. The trip to Boryeong would make for a good weekend away with around 329 million visitors in 2014 and that number is sure to increase this year. Don’t be left out – get ready for a messy good time!
Festival Hint: Remember to put on sun screen because although you’ll be covered in mud, the sun can still penetrate to your skin and many people end up leaving the fest with some pretty rad sunburns (alas, thinking the mud was somehow protective). Don’t let the healthy skin glow you’ll surely gain from the massive mud fun be covered by a bright red layer of healing skin.
Best for: Flower Power For The Nature Lover
When: July 24 ~ August 16, 2015
Where: Taebaek, Gangwon-do
If you prefer some good clean fun and natural beauty, then the Taebaek Sunflower Festival might be just up your alley. Located in the laid back village of Guwau in Hwangyeon-dong, Taebaek is host to a 41 acre sunflower farm. Housing around 300 varieties of sunflowers and wildflowers, take a leisurely walk around the grounds in a vast land of tranquility and simply take in the fresh air around Taebaek. Visitors can also enjoy classical music concerts in the evenings, try different foods and juices made from the sunflower seeds and flowers or peruse the market to purchase some of the naturally made products. While the summer away amid the big yellow bloomers that can’t help but make people smile and watch as, by day, the sunflowers light up the horizon for miles. By night, it’s a different story as there is a weekly bonfire on Saturdays and accompanying fireside concerts that give people ample time to gaze at the stars twinkling overhead while embracing a rare opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Korean summers.
Festival hint: Other places to enjoy the natural beauty of the area include the Alpine Botanical Garden, the Yongyeon Cave and numerous mountain trails. Take a weekend trip to Taebaek this summer and really embrace the simple and laid-back allure of country life amid a field of sunflowers.
Pohang International Fireworks Festival
Best for: Bright Lights In The Night
When: July 24 ~ August 16, 2015
Where: Yeongildae Beach, Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Pohang is known as the “City of Light and Fire” and their festival brings both of those things together in one beautiful location. Imagine sitting on a beach lounging with friends, having a swim and just enjoying the summer rays and breeze all day long. If a break is needed from the beach, the festival also organizes street performers, caricaturists, and a street parade to entertain visitors during the day. As night falls, what better way to wrap up that great day by returning to the beach at sunset? Evening entertainment sees fireworks (or ‘fire flowers’ as they are more affectionately called by Koreans) fill the dark sky above with an amazing array of colors. The evening is completed with a sparkler in hand as everyone knows that no great trip to a beach in Korea can end without sparklers. Head to Pohang for fun in the sun and some light at night!
Festival hint: To make it a full weekend in Pohang, enjoy the delights at the Jukdo Traditional Market which is known for seafood in the city center. Homigot is also the site where thousands head to welcome in the New Year sunrise each year and nearby Bogyeongsa, a beautiful Buddhist temple at the foot of Naeyeon Mountain, can be visited alongside the breathtaking Yeonsan waterfall. Plan your festival weekend away now!
Best for: Let’s See The Sea With Glee
When: August 1 ~ 8, 2015
Where: Haeundae, Gwangalli, Songdo and Songjeong Beach, Busan
In its 20th year, the Busan Sea Festival will once again take over the port city, bringing together some 30 different events and mini festivals to celebrate all things cultural. With one street party after another, this will be one week that the city of Busan will not sleep. Some bigger highlights include the Busan International Rock Festival and the Busan International Dance Festival which maintain a free of charge two-day festival menu full of great acts year after year for audiences of around 10,000. The Korean Sea Literature Festival and the Water Carnival also provide a mixture of sporting, music and beach events for visitors of all ages. Enter one of the windsurfing, volleyball or swimming tournaments aimed at the sports lover or enjoy a free lesson in rafting, canoeing or other water activities for those that wish they were more sports-able.
Festival Hint: There is something for everyone at the main locations of Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach, Songdo Beach to Songjeong Beach and the Samnak Ecological Park among many other venues. Head down to Busan and you’ll surely be able to find something you’re interested in to have additional fun on a day at the beach.
Best For: The Chimaek Maniac
When: July 22 ~ 26, 2015
Where: Duryu Park, Dalseo-gu, Daegu
Ask anyone what they’re favorite chicken abode is and they’re sure to have an opinion. Going out for some chicken and beer isn’t just a nonchalant activity in Korea. From fried to broiled, baked and sauced-up, there are numerous choices to be made after you’ve decided which place is the best. The people of Daegu have decided that chimaek (chicken and maekju) is something to celebrate and the 620,000 people that attended in 2014 agreed. This year the festival promoters are going to amp things up by adding a rock music and industrial culture festival to the mix. The festival mixes a youthful energy with all things chicken to offer a unique theme. Everything from chicken and beer tasting, chicken and beer sculptures and a chicken trick art zone will be open for ample enjoyment of all things chicken and beer. Why shouldn’t the simpler things in life be celebrated?
Festival Hint: Also make a stop at the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Market, the largest in the country, the Mabijeong Mural Village for a walk along little alleys with painted walls and don’t miss out on the Dalseong Dodongseowon Confucian Academy for some Korean history as well.