After the coldest winter of my life (cue laughter from all the non-Caribbeans in the room), I was so prepared for spring. However, I didn’t expect it to slip through my fingers so quickly. It felt like the flowers bloomed and blossomed one day, and the next they were spray painted a summery green.
One of the top items on my Korean bucket was to attend the Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival, but with a busy school calendar keeping my Saturdays tied up, it seemed impossible. After some research, I learned that most large cities in Korea actually host their own celebration around the same time, and that’s when I knew that I need to make the Busan Lotus Lantern Festival happen.
It takes about 45 minutes by fast train to get from Daegu to Busan, With one measly opening in our calendars, two of my lady friends and I decided to make a girls day trip out of it. We’d watch the parades, eat lots of street food, and bask in the glow of colorful lantern lights.
I can’t even describe what one of these lanterns look like in person. Shaped like lotuses in all different sizes, they’re nothing short of incredible! There’s so much precision that goes into making these ceremonial crafts, just like most things in Korea. You simply have to tip your hat to the talented people who make them year in and year out.
I was looking for this explosion of lights in the sky as lanterns were released holding the wishes of hundreds of people below. That’s not exactly what we got, but nevertheless, the day was filled with surprises. To actually see the release of lanterns, you have to find the right location in Busan. Many of the temples and prime locations in the city as scouted out as festival spots for the month. All over Busan you’ll find people celebrating, so do your research, that way you won’t end up missing the most iconic part of a lantern festival like I did.
I had no idea what a huge event the Lotus Lantern Festival really is in Korea for those who actively practice Buddhism.
The opening ceremony was lively and full of people, among which were monks, performers, and citizens from all over Korea. I saw very few foreigners, which was quite surprising for such a huge event.
I wish I could give more background about what took place on this day. I know in my bones that we witnessed something magical. Overall, I felt so much kindness and inclusion from the people around us. There wasn’t the typical pushing and shoving that you experience in most crowded places around Korea. No one made too much of a fuss when we stepped out of bounce to capture a special moment, and the audience was genuinely happy to be there.
[box type=”info”]The best place to experience the first day of the Busan Lotus Lantern festival is at Songsanghyeon Square where they hold the annual Gathering party for guests.[/box]