Wander wild, wonderful winter wonderlands
How about taking those thick blankets off your shoulders and enjoying one of the country’s many snow festivals offering various winter activities that will make you forget about the cold weather? If you’re not into moving around too much, wrap yourself in a muffler and head down to see some ice and snow sculptures unfold before your eyes. Here are some places to go.
Daegwallyeong Snow Festival
Although the 12th Daegwallyeong Snow Festival ends tomorrow, there are still two major programs left to enjoy. Today, the Hwang Byeong-san Hunting Performance will be held. This local hunting tradition has been ongoing for decades. Because Daegwallyeong is known for heavy snowfall that paralyzes traffic during winter, its residents used to hunt wild boars to use as a sacrifice at the beginning of January. During the performance, visitors can watch hunters in leopard-print outfits hunt down a wild boar before their eyes. Of course, the boar is a replica.
Tomorrow, the festival will end with its biggest program, a “Topless Marathon.” The marathon is for those who want to run topless - which is optional - to “conquer the cold” and to “enjoy the fresh air of Daegwallyeong.” It starts at 10 a.m. and there is a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) and 10-kilometer course.
To get there from Seoul, take a bus from Dong Seoul Bus terminal bound for Hoenggye Intercity Bus Terminal. It takes about two and a half hours. For details, call (033) 335-3995 or visit www.snowfestival.net.
Daedunsan Surak Valley Ice Festival
Nonsan, South Chungcheong
To Jan. 26
How about having a go at bobsledding at Daedunsan Surak Valley Ice Festival? This festival’s highlight is ice bobsledding that’s very popular with children. The bobsleds are plastic, but you get to slide down a narrow track surrounded by thick ice walls.
On Jan. 3, the first day of the festival, about 5,000 people came to the festival venue, mostly families with children. Parents can try keeping out of the cold by staying at an ice cafe, which is made out of ice, or they can stay inside ice igloos.
Also, there are dozens of ice pillars that are 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 feet) tall to take pictures of. To fill up those empty stomachs, visitors can head down to the corner where you can heat up your own corn, sweet potatoes or a bar rice cake on skewers over a charcoal fire. For more food, there’s also a sangol jangteo, or a small marketplace, inside the festival venue.
The festival, which is in its second year, costs 7,000 won ($6.59) for admission for adults, and 5,000 won for children. To get to the festival venue, which is in Nonsan, south Chungcheong, take a bus from Central City Express Bus Terminal bound for Nonsan Bus Terminal. It takes about two hours and 10 minutes. For details, call (041) 46-5663 or visit tour.nonsan.go.kr.
Bugok Hawaii Ice Sculpture Festival
Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang
To Feb. 2
The festival’s name is Bugok Hawaii, but each winter, this hot spring resort in South Gyeongsang holds a popular ice sculpture festival. For this year’s festival, the sixth, the venue said they’ve upgraded the ice sculptures, slides and an ice maze into a “whole new level, making it larger and more spectacular, so that visitors will feel like they have entered into a huge ice amusement park.”
The festival is divided into five “lands” - ice, snow, winter, light and reminisce.
In the Land of Ice, the country’s biggest ice sculpture exhibition hall, 100 of Korea’s best ice sculptors have turned an ice sculpture into an artwork. Using colored ice, the sculptors created a Santa Town, in which children can enjoy riding down ice slides and chasing after their friends through long and chilly ice tunnels. There are even ice versions of the Vatican and the Louvre if you haven’t had the chance to go to Europe to see the real ones.
In the Land of Snow, snow sculptures are exhibited, which are hard to see in the southern part of the country. In the Land of Winter, visitors can enjoy snow sleds, then a hot bath. The venue said it has installed a new ice sled zone in this land.
For those who like twinkling lights at night, visit the Land of Light to witness Christmas trees beautifully decorated with LED lights. Meanwhile, parents can take their children to the Land of Reminisce and experience games and foodstuffs from the past.
Admission costs 29,000 won for adults and 19,000 won for children. To get there, take a bus from Nambu Bus Terminal bound for Bugok. It takes about five hours. For more details, call (051) 633-7711 or visit www.bugokhawaii.co.kr.
Baraebong Snowflake Festival
Namwon, North Jeolla
To Feb. 9
The third Baraebong Snowflake Festival kicked off in December and has been attracting visitors to Jirisan Herb Theme Park and Baraebong Peak at Mount Jiri. The two areas get a lot of snow during winter and that’s why Unbong County chose them for the snow festival titled Winter, Snowflakes and Time Travel to the Innocence of Childhood. Especially for this year’s festival, the organizers said they’ve invested a lot of time and money on creating giant snow sculptures like igloos as well as installations that will provide better scenery. For a more dynamic winter sports experience, you can also climb an ice wall.
Tomorrow, mountaineer Oh Eun-sun, the first Korean woman to climb the Seven Summits, will invite visitors to trek up to the summit of Baraebong Peak (1,167 meters) to view the snow-covered town below.
There are also a variety of snow-related programs including sled riding and kite flying. Admission costs 6,000 won for adults.
To get to the festival, take a bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal bound for Inwol Terminal, north Jeolla. It takes about three hours and 20 minutes. For details, call (063) 635-0301 or visit tour.namwon.go.kr.
Seoul Snow Festival
To Feb. 9
In the past, Seoulites went to Gangwon to enjoy a decent amount of snow and a magnificent snow festival. But, starting this year, Seoul will have one of its own at the Peace Plaza of the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan, central Seoul. There are about 20 snow-related programs for people to enjoy and three zones where you can have snowball fights, ride snow sleighs and play traditional games like yutnori, a board game using five wooden sticks, and neolttwigi, a traditional outdoor game that is similar to see-saw.
Every Saturday and Sunday is designated as “Daddy Day,” in which fathers “who are exhausted from work can come and enjoy fresh air with their children.” Games that fathers and young children can enjoy together are organized during the “Daddy Days.”
“Not only families but also couples can come and enjoy snow and the romance that this winter season provides,” said Shin Yong-ju, the director of the organizing committee. “Although it’s the first snow festival for Seoul, we’ll try and attract more people and foreign visitors as well to turn it into a new kind of winter festival for the capital city.”
It opens from 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays and at 9 p.m. on weekends. The festival venue closes on Mondays. Admission costs 15,000 won for adults and 12,000 won for children.
For details, call (02) 780-8102 or visit www.seoulsnowfestival.org.
Pocheon Dongjangkun Festival
To Feb. 2
The 10th Pocheon Dongjangkun Festival is being held at Baekun Valley in Pocheon. Dongjangkun is an old Korean word that’s used to describe extremely cold weather. To fight the dongjangkun this winter, the festival organizers said it has prepared diverse winter programs that will “make visitors sweat and forget about the cold.”
As the location is close to military camps, one of the highlights of this festival is an exhibition of the newest army equipment.
As for experience zones, there are snow sleighs, ice fishing, traditional top spinning, an ice maze, and an ice wall that you can walk along. Admission to all zones costs 15,000 won. Tickets to each zone can be purchased separately.
To get to the festival venue, take a bus from Central City Express Bus Terminal bound for Uncheon Intercity Bus Terminal in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. It takes about one hour and 40 minutes. For more details, call (031) 535-7242 or visit www.dongjangkun.co.kr.
Taebaeksan Snow Festival
Jan. 17 to 26
Mount Taebaek, located in Gangwon, is famous for its heavy snowfall, making its snow festival one of the country’s premier winter festivals. The Taebaeksan Snow Festival is especially known for its grand snow sculptures such as a replica of Gwanghwamun, the largest gate of Gyeongbok Palace.
It also displays other giant snow sculptures shaped into everything from the faces of K-pop stars like Big Bang and Crayon Pop to King Sejong, and the legendary Korean admiral Yi Sun-shin and his turtle ship. The “K-Wafe” sculptures are displayed at the sarang dongsan within Taebaeksan Provincial Park.
For younger kids who are more into cartoon characters like Pucca or the Robot Taekwon V, giant snow sculptures of them will be displayed at the “K-Character” corner at the Hwanhee Dongsan within the park.
A wide variety of experience zones will also be installed during the festival, including a giant snow slide and ice sled where children and parents can engage in fun activities. There are also interactive programs where visitors can have a go at making goods ranging from candles to natural soap. Around Hwangji Pond, visitors can enjoy a beautiful nightscape of lights.
There’s a shuttle bus service for 10,000 won that departs from Donghwa Duty Free Shop in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, at 8 a.m. once a day during the festival period. The return bus departs at 5 p.m. from Taebaek, at the same bus stop where you arrived. For reservations, call 1577-5944.
For more details, call (033) 550-2828 or visit festival.taebaek.go.kr.
Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival
Cheongyang, South Chungcheong
To Feb. 9
As the name implies, the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival boasts magnificent views of grand fountains of ice. Imagine large fountains installed in lines splashing water, but here in Chilgapsan, it’s frozen. About 50 of the fountains in various sizes grab the attention of adults, while children can be mesmerized by the larger-than-life Pororo and his friends frozen.
Visitors enter the festival venue, which is in the Alps Village in Cheongyang County, south Chungcheong, through an igloo to discover various programs from snow sleds to ice bobsleighs. Residents have organized a horse-riding experience zone as well as a sleigh cart ride pulled by real cattle. Visitors can also have a go at catching smelts with their bare hands. If you catch some, you can eat them on the spot as there’s a corner where you can fry them. Admission is 3,000 won for adults and 2,000 won for children. Experiences and sleds are not included.
To get to the Alps Village, take a bus at the Central City Express Bus Terminal bound for Jeongsan Terminal in Cheongyang. It takes about two hours. For details, call (041) 942-0797 or visit www.alpsvill.com.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [email@example.com]