Jinju Namgang Yudeung (Lantern) Festival is the most famous lantern festival in South Korea and happens in October. To get to the festival you must travel to the South of South Korea to a city called Jinju. The lantern festival takes place in the Jinjuseong Fortress, along the Namgang river. The festival’s history is pretty cool. The festival originates from the Japanese Invasion in 1592, when lanterns were lit on the Namgang River as a military strategy to prevent Japanese troops from wading into the river.
Today, giant lanterns are lit up in beautiful displays all around the fortress and on the river. Around the festival there are areas have different themed lanterns. My favourite lanterns were the ones floating on the river that represented different countries- but what can you expect from a travel blogger. The lantern tunnel was pretty cool too!
To enter the festival it costs about $10. I would recommend arriving during the day because there are not as many people yet- which gives you a lot of time to walk around and explore. You will have a chance to go around and see all the lanterns and take pictures with them before thousands of Koreans show up with their selfie-sticks. The lanterns will not be lit up yet but you should take advantage of this time because once the sun sets the crowds come rushing in.
It was shocking how many people were there- I felt like I was in Disneyland! Once the sun went down it seemed like thousands of people suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Just to cross some of the bridges you may have to wait over an hour! And by bridges I mean make-shift floating walkways that can get very tippy with the more people who are on them.
I did this trip with a group of friends and had a lot of fun but it would also make for a super cute date. You can write a wish together on a lantern and float your lantern down the river… awwww.
Book with a day tour with a tour company. There will be no accommodation in Jinju and traffic will be so crazy that you will not want to be driving. Also, most of the last public city buses stop pretty early so you won’t have much time to see the lanterns lit up.
There is lots of food to nibble on at the festival but nothing suitable for a sit-down meal. Before you enter the festival grab something to eat because once you are in the festival you can’t leave (unless you want to pay again to come back in).
Before the sun sets start on the side opposite of the fortress/main entrance, where all the food stalls are. It will be impossible to cross to this side once the crowds of people start coming in