Autumn is a masterpiece of burnt orange, crimson reds and golden colours in South Korea in October and November each year and it’s a busy time for festivals.
Naejangsan National Park is less than three hours by fast train south of Seoul where maple trees, waterfalls and temples can be seen in all their splendour. It’s a top spot for hiking and nearby Jeonju is worth a stopover to witness the clash of modern city and historic village side by side.
1. Bibimbap Festival
The surrounding area is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Korea and home of the Bibimbap Festival, celebrating the local dish of mixed rice, meat and vegetables. There are cooking competitions, street parades, performances and the best bibimbap to eat.
2. Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival
At the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival visitors can write their wishes on lanterns and float them down the river in an age-old tradition. A lantern exhibition, lantern-making, lantern flying and fireworks are also part of the festival and while there’s a local version of the bibimbap dish on restaurant menus, the specialty to try here is local grilled eel.
3. Andong International Mask Dance Festival
The Andong International Mask Dance Festival takes place in the historic Andong Hahoe Village – a living museum of Korea's cultural heritage. The festival showcases Korean Mask Dance as well as mask culture from around 20 different countries. Visitors can make a character mask from the traditional mulberry paper and learn the mask dance.
4. Icheon Rice Cultural Festival
Icheon Rice Cultural Festival celebrates the rice harvesting season. Join in pounding rice, making traditional rice cakes and the entertainment of traditional folk music and dance.
5. Hanseong Baekje Cultural Festival
Seoul is a modern megacity of 10 million people, a burgeoning economy and a world-leading technology hub but its history began 2000 years ago and the Hanseong Baekje Cultural Festival celebrates its origins with a street parade full of colourful costumes and musical performances that bring a past era back to life at Peace Square, Olympic Park in the southern area of Seoul.
6. Seoul Lantern Festival
Seoul also hosts the spectacular Lantern Festival over 17 days in November along the Cheonggycheon Stream featuring hundreds of lanterns created by locals and artists from around the world. A variety of lantern-themed activities including a lantern making contest.