Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun Festivals & Exciting Events: October 2010

Ok, quite a few people have asked me how I find out about upcoming events.  Basically, thanks to my mom, I am a planner by nature.  I do a lot of research and my track record is pretty good for finding fun places to explore and interesting events to attend (last weekend's "festival" was the single glaring exception to that rule).  My goal for this, my second and final year in Korea, is to get out of Seoul as much as possible.  Specifically, at LEAST one weekend per month.  It is amazingly cheap to travel around this country, and I want to see as much of SoKo as I can while I'm still here!

Anyway, since I am already compiling information about upcoming events for my friends and I, why not post it on the blog too?  Here is the October 2010 edition of what I hope will become a staple on my blog: Fun Festivals & Exciting Events.  There are, obviously, other events, however these are the ones that most appealed to me, and therefore the ones my friends and I will be attending.  For a more complete list of events, check out the KTO Events site.  We'll start with a bonus September Event!

Event Name: Seoul Drum Festival
Date(s): Friday, September 24-Sunday, September 26 (schedule)
Type: Quick Trip
Location: Seoul Forest Main Stage
Description: Each year professional and amateur percussionists from across Korea and around the world join together at the Seoul Drum Festival.  There are a ton of shows from various performance teams, as well as a parade.  This year they will be featuring international teams from Japan, France, India and Mexico.  It is right in Seoul and relatively easy to get to.
Cost: Free!
Getting there: Option 1- Go to Ttukseom Station on Line 2 (Green) and go out exit 8.  The stage is a 15 minute walk away. (map)
Option 2- Go to Ttukseom Station on Line 2 (Green) and go out exit 1.  Take bus 2413 or 2224 and get off after two stops.
Option 3- Go to Hanyang University Station on Line 2 (Green) and go out exit 4.  Take bus 410 or 2014 and get off after to stops.
More information: Korean Tourism Organization Site

Date(s): Friday, September 24-Sunday, October 3 (schedule)
Type: Overnight
Location: Downtown Andong and the Hahoe Village 
Description: This is one of Korea's biggest festival events.  It was cancelled last year because of H1N1 and I was so angry!  But it is back, so all is well with the world.  Andong is considered to be a very special and unique place in Korea.  (Fun fact: When Queen Elizabeth visited Korea and asked to be taken to the most Korean place, she was taken to Andong.)  The city is especially known for it's architecture, as it is one of the few places in Korea where people live in traditional homes, called hanok.  When you visit for the festival it is possible to stay in one of these buildings. The festival has over 50 events and hands-on experience programs the center around traditional Korean performances, mask making, and international performance troupes.  You can make masks, watch cultural shows, and "join in the fun with careless abandon," according to the KTO website.  
Cost: 3,000-5,000won admission
Getting there: Andong is pretty far from Seoul, so you can either take the train from Cheongnyangni Station (about 4 hours long and roughly 32,000won RT), or the bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (about 3 hours long and roughly 33,000won RT).  

Date(s): Wednesday, October 6-Sunday, October 10 (schedule)
Type: Day trip
Location: Suwon Hwaseong
Description: Suwon Hwaseong is a huge, beautiful fortress that is right in the middle of Suwon.  This fortress played a major role in Korean history and the Culture Festival celebrates the history of the fortress and those who built it.  The festival includes parades, traditional performances, reenactments, exhibits, etc.  It is the biggest festival held in Suwon each year.
Cost: Free!
Getting there: Suwon its own city, but it is still connected to the Seoul metro system. Go to the Suwon stop on Line 1 (Dark Blue).  When you exit the station, find your way to the bus stop where local buses are leaving. Take any one of the following buses to the Jongno Intersection (Hwaseong Haenggung): 2, 7, 7-2, 8 or 13.  You can also take a taxi for a minimal fee.  Just ask to be taken to Hwaseong Haenggung.

Date(s): Thursday, October 21-Saturday, October 23
Type: Overnight
Location: Busan's Gwangalli Beach and Gwangan Grand Bridge
Description: The Fireworks Festival is a major event where teams from all over the world compete to put on the best fireworks show.  We're talking a few hours of solid fireworks action over the water.  How could you go wrong?  And since the fireworks are only at night, you'll have plenty of time during the day to explore Busan and maybe even check out their Biennale, which is a huge art festival, featuring artists of all varieties including outdoor sculptors that are ready to show off their talents.
Cost: Fireworks Festival- Free!, Biennale- TBD
Getting there: You can take a bus to Busan, but your fastest bet is to take the KTX high speed train.  They leave regularly from Seoul Station (Line 1 and Line 4) and should take around two hours.  The cost for the KTX is about 103,000won RT.  If you are looking for something a little cheaper, you can also take a bus from Express Bus Terminal (Line 7 and Line 3).  It will only run you about 44,000won, but it will take you four and a half hours to get there.

Date(s): Saturday, October 23-Sunday, October 31
Type: Overnight
Location: Gwangju 
Description: I mean, I think the name says it all. This event gives you a chance to eat at a kimchi buffet, learn to make your own kimchi, and take tons of pictures of you elbow deep in vats of fermented veggies! WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE?  This is truly a uniquely Korean experience, so why not get out there and try something new?  Worst comes to worst, you can use it as a resume builder!
Cost: Not sure...I think it's free.
Getting there: You can fly to Gwangju from Seoul, however I think that is out of most people's price range for a quick weekend jaunt.  The two more cost effective travel options are the bus and the train.  Buses leave from all of the major terminals in Seoul and should run you about 50,000won RT, while taking roughly three and a half hours.  Trains leave Yongsan station and cost about 77,000won RT for the three hour ride.  Once you arrive in Gwangju there are free shuttles running from the station to the festival grounds throughout the day.
More information: Work-n-Play Site

Another thing to keep in mind is that thanks to the Visit Korea Year 2010-2012 (let's not even pause to discuss the name) there are free shuttle buses running from Seoul to Jeonju and Gyeongju.  They have English speaking guides (including our friend, Boram) and they are FREE for foreigners.  Check out their schedule and availability here.

Well, that is all for now.  Look for an update about November sometime in early October!

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