Lotus Lantern Festival 2017

This Wednesday May 3, marked 석가탄신일, Korea's celebration of Buddha's Birthday; and like many other foreigners, we went out to view the Lotus Lantern Parade which is held annually. The 연등회 parade which starts in Dongdaemun goes for about two and a half hours before ending at Jogyesa Temple.

We arrived early and were able to grab seats right near the start of the parade at Dongdaemun gate. Festivities were launched with a brief parade of taxis covered in lanterns followed by what were only the first of several huge lanterns carried by Korean students.

Photographers and foreign travelers filled the streets along side returning locals: elderly patrons, and families who came out to celebrate with one another were just as excited as anyone else. As the parade continued, many Korean performers and lantern carriers greeted foreigners with smiles, even passing some of them their lanterns to keep as souvenirs or stopping to take pictures with them.

The large lanterns were intermixed with groups of musical performers, dancers, and different organizations holding their group's specific lanterns. I was especially impressed to see special lanterns to support the handicap, expat groups, and temples from all over Asia who came to represent their temples. The crowd readily enjoyed Vietnam's dancing dragons, Tibet's colorful garments, and India's flashing light float.

Once the majority of the parade had passed, we walked along behind to catch extra photos of some floats and lanterns we missed. There was an excitement in the air, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. We ended along with the lanterns near Jogyesa Temple where the lanterns were lined up along the street for festival goers to take photos with.

I was really glad I made it out to enjoy this event. Although Matt had attended previously, this time we were able to see and experience it together in Seoul. The lanterns have since been moved to Cheonggyecheon Stream where they can be enjoyed until May 7, 2017.

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