The roll of the calendar towards the end of the year means frostier weather, reduced daylight and plummeting temperatures – but it also heralds the start of the festive season. If you happen to be in Korea during this time of year and looking for some holiday fun, you’re in luck – there’s no shortage of winter activities to take part in all over the peninsula. Take a look at our top three ways to make the most of Korean winter – whatever kind of experience you are looking for.
1. Evergreen at Everland
This winter, there is no better place to get into the festive spirit than at Everland. From mid-November, the Christmas Fantasy Festival is offering a wealth of special Christmas-themed fun on top of all your favorite Everland attractions like the T-Express and Rolling X-Train.
At the main entrance, over 80 animal lanterns are waiting to greet you alongside a giant golden tree – be sure to stick around for nightfall when all these special figures illuminate.
For more festive fun, check out the ‘Golden Garden’. Magic Garden has been taken over by all manner of beloved Christmas iconography illuminated nightly for the perfect photo opportunity. The garden also holds a special Rudolph Village, which features 50 unique Rudolph sculptures from all over the world and will, from December 3rd, offer those on the ‘nice’ list the opportunity to meet Santa in his house in the center of the village.
Everland has also rolled out a variety of special shows for you to enjoy, such as the Bling-Bling Xmas Parade which features Christmas characters, carols and even snow, and the dance performance show ‘Crash! Big Rush in Santa’s Village’, held twice a day.
The fun doesn’t stop at sundown, however, as every evening sees a spectacular light show take place at the 26-meter tall Christmas tree between the Magic and Rose Gardens, and the ‘Magic in the Sky’ display which features thousands of fireworks along with a dynamic media façade and special effects.
For those looking for something more thrilling, Everland’s Snow Buster, Korea’s first sledding park located in Alpine Village, offers three courses for all experience levels to enjoy from mid-December.
If you’re feeling peckish after a hard day’s sledding, Everland has a wealth of new themed snacks on offer. Furthermore, to commemorate your special holiday experience, Everland is offering a dynamic range of winter items, from themed hats to adorable panda Rudolph cushions.
Everland’s Christmas Fantasy Festival is running from November 16 to December 31, 2018. Visit here for more information.
2. Ice-Cool Sculptures at Taebaeksan
Those looking to embrace the beautiful landscapes brought about by the winter weather should head over to Mount Taebaek in Gangwon Province. Mount Taebaek is known for its breathtaking vistas thanks to the scenic snowfall that takes over its several peaks during winter.
But from mid-January, Mount Taebaek will be home to a whole new range of icy delights as the Snow Festival takes over. The Snow Festival sees a wide range of creative – and frosty – snow and ice sculptures pop up all around the national park to add a unique twist to your hike.
But the fun doesn’t end with the sculptures themselves. Throughout the festival, more adventurous visitors will be able to take part in the Mount Taebaek Hiking Competition and the festival’s singular pastime of ‘snow sliding’. Those looking to experience the festival at their own speed can enjoy a hot drink inside the Igloo Café – fashioned entirely from snow – and should be sure to stick around until nightfall, when the evening light festival illuminates the sculptures to dazzling effect.
Mount Taebaek Snow Festival runs from January 18 to February 3, 2019. Visit here for more information.
3. Sub-Zero Swimming in Busan
For those fearless adventurers looking for a truly unique way to celebrate winter and ring in the new year, Busan’s Polar Bear Swimming Contest is the one for you. Just as polar bears enjoy swimming in the icy Arctic Ocean, this competition invites you to take a dip in the chilly waters off Haeundae Beach in a 1km swim that sees over 2,000 brave individuals come together yearly to embrace this adrenaline-fueled undertaking.
Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, the swimming contest is definitely an unmissable experience, and while the competition is the highlight of the two-day festival, there are plenty of other experiences on hand for visitors, including concerts and hot spring visits.
If you’re looking to make the most out of your time in Busan following the Polar Bear contest, be sure to check out the Busan Christmas Tree Festival which runs from late November to early January, with an 18-meter Christmas tree watching over a wealth of folk performances, contests and caroling groups in Busan’s lively Jung-gu District.
The Polar Bear Swimming Contest takes place January 5 – 6, 2019. Visit here for more information and registration details.