Jinju Lantern Festival

Our favorite festival we’ve been to was the Lantern Festival in Seoul. Ryan’s mom had just flown in to Korea and we all headed downtown to take in the culture and glowing lights. We were a bit disappointed this year to be in transition into our new jobs and missing out on this year’s festival.


We recently heard many of our friends talking about the Jinju Lantern Festival. And, with the newest addition to our family, our car Su Ji, we knew we had to plan another roadtrip. So we packed our car and set out for the hour and a half drive up to Jinju.

The Seoul Lantern Festival is celebrated every spring in honor of Buddha’s birth. There are an array of events and activities during the festival including lantern making at the Jogyesa temple, a lantern exhibit on the Cheonggyecheon Stream, and the famous lantern parade that spans the entire length of Jongno Street! The lighting of the lanterns symbolizes bringing light, wisdom, and compassion to the world and is an important ritual in Buddhism.

Seoul Lantern Festival 2013

The Jinju Lantern Festival, on the other hand, is a tradition that originates from the lighting of lanterns during the Japanese invasion along the Jinjuseong Fortress. It was a military strategy used in hopes of preventing the Japanese troops from wading across the river. Many of the lanterns depict battle scenes from the war. Giant lanterns are floated in the river and many along the fortress walls.


We have been spending a lot of time with these two recently. John and Mara were in our orientation back in April and the past 8 weekends have been going on many adventures together. They’re okay.

This festival was seemingly never ending. We wandered through tunnels of lights and festival booths for hours and still didn’t see it all. Eventually it was time to head back to our city of Yeosu as a typhoon was headed our way. We waddled back to our car, full of vendor foods and satisfaction.





23 thoughts on “Jinju Lantern Festival

  1. Taylor says:

    Aww, I’m super bummed I missed this this year. We were supposed to check it out but all the accommodation options were absurdly expensive online and we didn’t wanna risk getting there and having no place to stay. Sadly, we will be gone before next year’s festival. But at least I can look at your pretty photos and pretend that we went.

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      We really loved the one in Seoul as well, but this one in Jinju was just incredible. There was so much more to see and do. We just wandered around for hours through the fortress, lanterns, food vendors, and market stalls! If you have the chance next year, we highly recommend checking out out!

  2. Duke Stewart says:

    I was happy to live in Jinju for a year and to see this festival come alive from basically nothing at the start of the year. I liked your pictures and how you captured the lanterns on the water at night. Those are tough shots to pull off. Great post!

  3. rafiquaisraelexpress says:

    This looks awesome! I actually gave it a miss because I already had seen lanterns in both Daegu and Busan for their lantern festivals and decided to go to Boseong & Damyang instead. However after looking at your photos it seems that this festival is way better than the one in Busan & Daegu! Next year for sure 🙂

  4. Lara // the passage says:

    I love how there are so many festivals all over South Korea, but I have to say, that from your photos the lantern festivals look like they might be one of the prettiest! Recently read about the November event and am hoping to make it to Seoul for that one- especially after reading your post. I really appreciate the history surrounding the Jinju lanterns, it means so much more to have an understanding of how something evolved.

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