This year we were very lucky to be able to attend the Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeongdeunghoe, 연등회) in Seoul. The Lotus Lantern Festival is held annually in honour of Buddha’s birthday which is calculated via the lunar calendar and this year it landed on May 6th. On April 16th there was a special Jeomdeungsik (lighting ceremony) at Gwanghwamun square and festivities in Seoul kicked off from 25th April for two weeks, ending on 11th May 2014. The lanterns are amazing and makes it a beautiful and magical time to visit South Korea.
Here are some of our snaps from the Festival Parade and the Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns at Cheonggyecheon where lanterns crafted from silk and traditional Korean paper Hanji were displayed. Traditional Buddhist lanterns are normally shaped like fruits and animals but along the stream were large sized lanterns that depicted special historical events to tell stories and celebrate Buddha.
The lantern parade is considered to be the highlight of the festival which starts at Dongdaemun Gate and runs all the way through Jogyesa Temple. The festival lasts all evening and the roads are completely closed off for tens of thousands of people with lanterns of all shapes and sizes. They even have chairs all along the route to allow people to sit down and appreciate the beautiful parade. We know it’s a lantern parade but nothing can prepare you for the sheer volume of lanterns everywhere.
The tradition of the Lotus Lantern Festival began during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties (918-1910) and today the tradition still stands strong. It’s also used as an opportunities to bring communities together and provide visitors local and foreign to participate in a number of festival activities from making your own lanterns to special taster days at Buddhist temples.