Sunday, November 09, 2014

Seoul Lantern Festival 2014

One of my favorite annual festivals in Seoul started this past Friday. The Seoul Lantern Festival, held from November 7-23 at Cheonggye Plaza, transforms the downtown stream into a colorful display for all ages. I went with some colleagues on Saturday night. With no wind and pleasant temperatures, it seemed like all of Korea also thought it was a good night to attend the festival. The line just to get down to the stream was jam packed, snaking up the main sidewalk and all around; thankfully people were civil during the LONG wait.
When we finally got down to the stream, a beautiful array of lanterns were before us, enhanced by music. Many were different from last year, but some of my favorites were there once again. Some such as the Jongmyo musicians were life-size. The leaping fish (larger ones seemed to be made from silk fabric) varied from much larger than life-size to quite small. A few such as the turtle ship were even animated; its sail folded up and down and the dragon head puffed smoke.
The large crowd (made a bit more challenging by very narrow pathways in some points) made it difficult to take the time needed to truly appreciate the intricate craftsmanship of these wire armature works of art covered with handmade hanji paper. Photography was more difficult as well, between the large number of "selfie sticks" competing for space and sheer numbers of people sometimes forcing you to move on. I didn't see anyone fall into the creek, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened. 
The Seoul Lantern Festival still is a "must see" for me and one I'd recommend to others. However, I'd recommend going on a weeknight or right before it gets dark, in order to avoid the crowds.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Here's a short video by the Globe and Mail on this year's Lantern Festival.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pics M! I can see why it is your favorite.

Melissa Enderle said...

Thanks, EJ! I would love to see the full construction process of making the ship. A piece of art.