Lotus Lantern Weekend – Part I


After a very relaxing day meandering around Sincheon, we ventured up to the subway and along the green line to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park.  This area is one of my favourites already, even though I’ve only explored it for the Indian food (well, Nepalese), and for Seoul Fashion Week.  The area is particularly modern because of the architecture surrounding the big Dongdaemun Design Plaza by Dame Zaha Hadid.

As one of our friends from Sincheon is moving to London, we were a little overdressed (yes – I wore the blue striped dress, but sadly the long-sleeved delight was snapped up by someone else.  Stay tuned for “who wore it best?” – hint: I did.) for the Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeon Deung Hoe 연등회), which celebrates Buddha’s Birthday.  The goal in recent years has been to bring joy and a sense of community to young and elder Koreans who have been down on their luck recently, and celebrate the spirit and ideals of Buddhism.


Floats upon glowing floats lined the street outside Dongdaemun station.  Each float was manned by individuals in bright attired pushing these mammoth baubles.

Various Hanbok (traditional Korean outfits) were on display, and we even saw some participants from different countries such at Vietnam, Nepal, and Myanmar wearing national attire and carrying various handmade lanterns.

The Lotus Lantern Festival parade was pretty cool, but I was expecting floating lanterns coming down the river, so this was not the parade I anticipated.  We were hungry and ended up leaving early to go grab dinner.  Was the parade worth seeing?  Sure.  Would I go again?  Not very likely.  The temples themselves in Seoul and in Busan are sights to behold and if you’ve only got time to see the parade or a temple I would definitely suggest checking out the temple, which you’ll see profiled here in due time 😉

We had the perfect spot right by the river to catch each float pass by a magnificent sunset.  A parade this time of year starting at 7PM was definitely the right call!

Namaste in Dongdaemun wasn’t really worth mentioning except to say that I appreciated the sustinence and the effort but between the ketchuppy vindaloo and then pineapple-d vegetable korma it’s not likely I would go back.  The service was with a smile, but sadly too slow to even get a draft beer.  We over-ordered because we were ravenous.  Our momos (Tibetan dumplings) came long after our meal and by that time we each had one and were done.  These were super dough-y dumplings with a filling that felt like it was sausage, as in: I think it actually had a casing.

I’ll never pass up a trip to Dongdaemun, but there have got to be better spots for Indian or Nepalese food (yes, I have tried Everest…*sigh*), and the parade wasn’t all that impressive.  Again, I would like to stress that if you have the time go visit a temple instead.  You’ll be glad you did!



12 Comments Add yours

  1. marie says:

    I like being told about the good and not so good places to go/eat. Too many bloggers only talk about how fantastic everything is wherever they travel. Well done!

  2. I want to see one of those lanterns floating down the river festivals one day too!! The parade was still pretty, glad you were able to check it out!!

  3. Never been a fan of carnivals and mass festivals but perhaps would give it a try if I ever come to this part of the world.

  4. Gorgeous! It must have been lovely to see such a beautiful parade 🙂

  5. The Lotus Lantern Festival looks amazing, especially with all the floats illuminated in the darkness. I bet there was a fantastic atmosphere. Thanks for sharing.

  6. thetravelpockets says:

    How interesting that the parade also featured participants from different countries. Glad you mentioned to visit the temples instead of watching the parade. Appreciate the honest review 🙂

  7. Thank you for the tips! I’d love to be able to fit in both a temple and a bit of the parade (just the colors and costumes alone are striking), but I’ll definitely heed you advice!

  8. Jo says:

    I love these floats – it looks like such a fun parade. Well, I love parades – they give out such an awesome vibe. Well, you must visit India for authentic Indian cuisine coz I feel Indian food outside India is just made in a way to cater to that countries’ taste buds (as with other cuisines) and hey, I am sure you killed it in your blue dress 🙂

  9. It’s so interesting that the parade started late in the evening, is there any reason why? I loved the photos on the parade with the sunsetting.

    1. It’s a lantern festival parade so they wanted the lanterns to be illuminated in the night sky by the time the parade reached the temple.

      1. I see! Thanks for sharing

  10. What a special parade! I love how colorful it is. The lanterns illuminating in the night sure looks amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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