I wonder why the Seoul City government rolls out the annual Seoul Lantern Festival during the late autumn when the nights are really chilly, or why they even call it a 'festival'. A festival should include merrymaking, cultural events, festive activities and entertainment. In this case, it's just an array of creative lanterns along the stream, which, I suggest should just be called Seoul Lantern Exhibition, instead of Seoul Lantern Festival.
Naming aside, even if it's really cold out in the Cheonggye Stream, thousands of Seoulites and international tourists flock to the area to see the colorful lanterns of different figures and designs. Some of them hang above the stream, while others are installed on it, seemingly floating and lighting up the waters around them.
On opening night and during the weekend, it's always difficult to walk through the whole array of lanterns because of the huge crowd, but since these are best enjoyed at night, no one has a choice but to join the multitude.
Although these lanterns are not as huge and spectacular compared to those during the lantern parade during Buddha's birthday celebration, they are as colorful and creatively made.
As if it's not difficult enough to conceive an idea for the lantern, make its skeleton, cover it with colored paper before inserting the lights and the electrical wires, transporting them to the site and installing them over a body of water are a challenge unto themselves. And to top it all, having a huge generator within the site to provide electricity to all the lanterns until late at night is also a big part of the planning.
While we all just lazily walk by admiring the colorful shapes and designs of the Seoul Lantern Festival, we forget that a lot of hard work went into staging the whole event. I would have wanted to meet the artisans behind the lanterns themselves, those creative minds who came up with those intricately made figures that mesmerize the kids and adults alike.
And during these chilly autumn nights, these artists' works of art will illuminate once more the Cheonggye Stream from November 2 to the 18th, telling stories through figures and lanterns from 5PM and it's 'lights off' at 11PM.
I may take a look at this year's set of lanterns one of these nights. If you also plan to, be prepared for the chill and the huge crowd.
Here are a few photos of the lanterns from the previous exhibition:
(These figures are very intricate and colorful)
(Yes, the Philippines has a booth at the
Seoul Lantern Festival)
(A king laughing at the jester)
(A huge ship floats and lights up the stream)
(These rows of figures with a king are my favorite.)
(Looks like a conniving duo)
(Yes, this horse moves and gallops!)
(A tourist throws a coin into the stream)
To get to Cheonggyecheon:
Exit 5 of Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5 Purple)
Exit 5 of Jonggak Station (Line 1 Dark Blue)
Exit 4 of City Hall Station (Line 2 Green and Line 1 Dark Blue)
Exits 2 and 3 of Euljiro-1-ga Station (Line 2 Green)