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Festivals Must Continue as Life Goes On

You might think, “A festival in the middle of a pandemic? Is it for real?”
However, as suggested by the title of BTS’s song, "Life Goes On," festivals must also go on, even if it means in the middle of a pandemic.
Even though we can’t make it to the festivals in person this year, how about we remember what they’re about and visit next year?
Let’s take a look at Korea’s fall festivals, as well as famous festivals around the world and their unique culture.
Article: Editor’s Office

Fall festivals to enjoy in Korea with soft autumn breezes

There are always great places to visit in all four seasons, but fall is what I call the best time of the year for outdoor activities. This is precisely why a number of festivals are celebrated all over Korea during autumn. Many of these are about celebrating the beauty of nature one can only enjoy in fall. A prime example is the Danpung Festival. So many Koreans celebrate the Danpung Festival during autumn that people automatically associate fall with Danpung, just as they associate spring with cherry blossoms.

There are many famous Danpung Festivals in Korea. However, only a handful among them have schedules confirmed due to Covid-19. The only festival that we know will be held for sure is the “Hwadam Forest Danpung Festival”, which will take place in Hwadam Forest,

a metropolitan area that was nominated twice in the “100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea”, announced by the Korea Tourism Organization. However, this time, only a certain number of people will be able to visit at a time and they will have to make online reservations in advance. Hwadam Forest is famous for its colorful collection of over 400 types of autumnal foliage leaves including maple trees, Japanese maple trees, and Norwegian maple trees.

Although the theme is not Danpung, there is another festival that represents autumn, which is the Chrysanthemum Festival scheduled this year that have already taken place in some region, and the 17th annual Iksan Ten Million Chrysanthemum Festival is currently being held. However, the size and scale are much smaller compared to before and exhibitions on chrysanthemum flowers or parks decorated with flowers are taking place instead of a grand festival this year.

There’s also the fall festival that has begun to attract much interest among the youth via social media in recent years, which is the Pink Muhly Festival. These flowers usually turn pink from September to November and capture the attention of visitors with their lovely colors. Famous for being so beautiful, romantic, and nice to take Instagram-worthy pictures at, Pink Muhly Festivals take place all over the country, including Taean, Gochang, and Jeju-Island during the fall season. You should note, however, that it would be like taking a nice relaxing stroll around a garden, rather than enjoying a fancy showy program. However, even that might not be in the cards this year as the festival seems to be wrapping up earlier than originally scheduled due to the cold weather.

Fond memories of various local festivals

One of the many reasons people go to festivals is to enjoy the rich culture. Some theme festivals are celebrated in landmarks of the region and some festivals give visitors a chance to learn about and enjoy the area’s history. Cultural festivals with various events can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Some festivals have an exotic or futuristic theme, such as robots or Halloween.

Allow me to introduce some examples. To begin with, the Gaecheon Art Festival, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, has various programs such as the musical “Chokseoksanseong Aria” which is about the Namgang River, Jinju Castle Timelapse, and exhibitions of poetry, pictures, and art. Although cancelled this year, Dongdong Drum Festival, a festival held in Yeosu with a powerful drum performance, originates from Dongdong, a court song of the Goryeo dynasty which was sung by General Yootak and his soldiers who defeated the Japanese. In addition, the Jeonju Street Puppet Festival, Sancheong Medicinal Herb Festival, Yeoncheon Paleolithic Festival, and Daejeon Robot Fusion Festival have all taken place already this year.

We can’t talk about festivals without talking about food. Unfortunately, food festivals which used to be full of excited visitors received the heaviest blow from Covid-19. However, 'untact' or online festivals have substituted in-person festivals for now, although the attention they are receiving is nowhere as much as before.

The World Kimchi Festival held in Gwangju has both online and offline events. The hosts of the festival offer diverse online programs, such as a cooking class taught by a professional Kimchi instructor, Kimchi cooking class for children, and an academy class on Kimchi from the eight provinces of South Korea. In addition, Jumbo shrimps, directly shipped by fishermen and local dealers are sold at the Hongseong Namdanghang Port Jumbo Shrimp Festival. The Boen Jujube Festival also sells jujube and hosts online events and the Makguksu & Dakgalbi Festival held in Chuncheon offers attractions such as an eating contest.

Global festivals for your bucket list!

Nowadays, visiting festivals held overseas are obviously even more difficult to attend than going to local ones. Therefore, let’s take a look at famous global festivals that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The MassKara Festival is known as the most joyful festival in the Philippines and will put a big smile on your face, even in a world where there are less things to laugh about. The festival, with over 40 years of history, celebrates how the natives recovered their ethnicity. During the festival period, people walk around the street wearing different smiling masks and colorful costumes and enjoy a variety of events. The fancy clothes and masks make the experience even more delightful.

The Festival International Cervantino held in Mexico, is the fourth-largest festival in terms of size, following Quebec City Summer Festival held in Canada, the Avignon Festival in France, and the Edinburgh Festival held in the UK. This annual festival originates from the author of Don Quijote, Cervantes’ masterwork, and became an official international festival in the 1970s. The festival expanded its domains to all sorts of arts and culture including installation art, performance art, exhibitions, and film festivals. And from 2000, the Festival has implemented a program that invites one country from a certain continent as special guests to showcase their culture and performing arts. Korea was invited as a special guest in 2007. Aloha Festivals is a festival celebrated in Hawaii. The festival, held to celebrate traditional Hawaiian culture, consists of around 100 programs of different scales. Especially, the Floral Parade, that is held every year on the last Saturday of the festival period, is referred to as the highlight the festival. Around 40 intricate floats decorated with beautiful flowers parading the streets over as long as four hours is definitely a sight to see.

Scotland’s Hogmanay, which takes place on New Year’s Eve, is also highly recommended. In Scotland, tradition has it that to ensure luck, a dark-haired man should be the first foot to arrive in your house. As such, Asian tourists are especially welcomed. The biggest event of this festival is watching the Scots dressed in Viking costumes marching down the street with a torch in their hands. Now, wouldn’t you like to visit this festival, where you can enjoy a number of different unique events in just a couple of days and can be welcomed at the same time?

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