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Seoul announces year-end winter festivals

Nov. 22, 2023 - 15:34 By Lee Jung-joo
“Seoul Light Gwanghwa,” a light show featuring an 800-meter-long media facade, is projected onto Gyeongbok Palace’s Gwanghwamun gate (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has announced a set of plans to launch Seoul Winter Festa, a large-scale network of winter festivals that takes place across the capital in December.

On Wednesday, the city government stated that Seoul Winter Festa will take place from Dec. 15 to Jan. 21 at seven locations in Seoul -- at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in eastern Seoul and Gwanghwamun Square, Yeolrin Songhyeon, Cheonggyecheon and Seoul Plaza in central Seoul.

While winter-themed events were held at these locations in the past, the capital city will bring the events together to become one large-scale festival.

The Seoul Winter Festa will kick off under the theme of “lights coloring the city” and will use the latest lighting technologies. It will begin with a light show featuring an 800-meter-long media facade in front of the Gyeongbok Palace’s Gwanghwamun gate.

Additionally, the annual Seoul Lantern Festival near Cheonggyecheon, Gwanghwamun Square and Seoul Plaza will be held to signal the beginning of Seoul Winter Festa under the theme of “white night in Seoul.” A light show will also take place at a green space surrounded by pine trees at Yeolrin Songhyeon.

At Gwanghwamun Square and Dongdaemun Design Plaza, visitors can take a look around the Christmas markets selling various goods and eateries representing the holiday season. The ice skating rink in front of Seoul Plaza will also open during Seoul Winter Festa from Dec. 22 until Feb. 11.

An artist rendering of the “Midnight’s Sun,” a New Year countdown event at Sejong-daero (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

On Dec. 31, a New Year countdown event is scheduled to take place in three locations across Seoul. The traditional bell-ringing ceremony will take place at midnight on New Year’s Eve at Bosingak Pavilion and stretch across Sejong-daero, and will be broadcast at Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Gwanghwamun Square. While the bell is being rung, a 12-meter-wide "sun display," called the "Midnight's Sun," will be staged in the middle of Sejong-daero to celebrate the dawn of the new year.

“There was a consensus that the capital city’s New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was getting too old to enjoy,” said Choi Kyeng-ju, director of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s culture division. “So we decided to create a large-scale winter festival for a change so that anyone from anywhere can enjoy the holidays however they wish to enjoy it.”

As more than 100,000 people are expected to attend Seoul Winter Festa, the city government also stated that it is drafting measures regarding safety and weather conditions.

“The Seoul Winter Festa will be an opportunity to enhance Seoul’s appeal and attract visitors from all over the world,” said Han Kyung-ah, director of this year’s Seoul Winter Festa. “As 2023 comes to a close, we hope that the festival will be able to shine a new light on what Seoul has to offer for the upcoming year."

A poster of the upcoming Seoul Winter Festa, set to be held from Dec. 15 through Jan. 21 (Seoul Metropolitan Government)