It’s that time of year again- it’s snowy, it’s December and it’s time to feel Christmassy! I’m sure most expats would agree that Christmas isn’t a huge deal in Korea; sure, cafes are decorated prettily, there are Christmas-themed foods and drinks, and there are a few Christmas trees to make you feel festive. But compared to back home where Christmas spirit pretty much dominates the country as soon as Halloween is over and done with, Korea is somewhat lacking proper festivity.
As a result, last year I spent a long time trying to find Christmassy things to do. And when I saw that there was a winter lighting festival at The Garden Of Morning Calm (in Gapyeong), it looked ideal. And luckily, my expectations were met and exceeded; the lighting display was spectacular to say the least, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
My photos from the festival don’t do justice to the stunning display; if it looks good in a photo, it looked 10 times better in real life. The view from the top of the garden is pretty breathtaking- a sea of twinkling lights in an array of bright, beautiful colours. As you wander around the gardens there are different sections with different themes. Heart sculptures for couples to pose in, a horse and carriage to sit in, animals, flowers, and light-tunnels. And it’s not only sculptures; the whole park is decorated with lights, covering the trees, plants, and paths. The whole garden looks enchanted.
I didn’t expect the festival to be so magical, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done in Korea and it’s well worth visiting, especially at this time of the year. It’s not a Christmas market with mulled wine and mince pies, but it’s a unique and brilliant alternative way to make you feel festive.
More information about the festival can be found here or on The Garden Of Morning Calm website. You should be prepared for it to be crowded, and full of people with selfie sticks, but it’s worth it. If you want to go walking in a winter wonderland, this is the place to visit.