Festivals within a festival is the Busan way
Rejoice, sun worshippers! All seven beaches in Busan have now opened, and the height of summer approaches. Swimming, surfing, kayaking and many other activities await you. Most importantly, the sea is set to provide you with respite from Busan's sometimes unbearable mid-year heat.
Peak season, however, is early August, when the 24th Busan Sea Festival will begin at five beaches: Haeundae, Gwangalli, Dadaepo, Songdo and Songjeong. One of the largest festivals in the country, the Busan Sea Festival provides visitors five days of performances, activities and a slew of marine leisure sports.
■ Haeundae: start with a pool party
The festival officially begins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2. To kick things off, the festival will bring Busan a night pool party and an opportunity to enjoy splashing around in two swimming pools, each 15 meters wide and 25 meters long. All the while, famous singers and musicians will come on stage to entertain festival-goers. The night pool party is one of the festival's main attractions and will go on for three days. It is free of admission.
The Haeundae fun is not at all limited to the nights, however. The two-day Water Carnival, taking place on Aug. 3 and and 4 on Gunam-ro (street) is one of the festival's highlights and takes place before sunset. Getting hit by a stream of a water gun could be just the thing you need to cool down this summer. All the while, both sides of Gunam-ro will provide trucks for buskers. So, if a water gun fight isn't for you, you should feel free to meander down the street taking in the sights and sounds.
Events at Haeundae are held every day of the festival. As a precaution, it would be wise to pack extra clothes for a visit, as you will be getting wet if you partake in these activities, and you may get wet inadvertently even if you are not actively taking part in the water gun fight. Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen, either!
▷ How to get there: Haeundae Station (Metro line 2), exit 3 or 5. Go straight for 500 meters.
■ Gwangalli: jazz, dance and DJs
Not to be outdone, Gwangalli is also throwing its hat into the event. The beach will provide a stage for musicians and will even get dancers and DJs into the mix. Aug. 2 at 9:30 will see Gwangalli's Summer Swing Party, a dance event for Koreans and foreigners in dance clubs to show off their skills. The following evening at 6 p.m. will be the start of the Summer Salsa Dance Night, which will be an opportunity for friends and couples to dance together as the sun sets.
More music follows on Aug. 4. Beginning at 7:20 p.m., the Busan Sea and Jazz Festival will be underway as four jazz troupes play their tunes. The following evening at 7 p.m., BeFM, which is Busan's only English radio station, will hold their annual Expat DJ Contest, where five DJs who survived preliminary rounds will compete to determine who is the best DJ in the country. This event typically draws large crowds. Finally, 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 will be Gwangalli's Hip Night.
▷ How to get there: Gwangan Station (Metro line 2), exit 5. Go straight for 12 minutes along the main street.
■ Songjeong: hip hop and fireworks
Moving east, Songjeong Beach also looks to make an impression this year at the Sea Festival. Known typically as a quieter beach area popular with university students, Aug. 2 and 3 will be its time to shine.
Songjeong's program includes the MT Festival, beginning at 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, which is a competition between university bands, dance and hip hop groups. There is also Surfer's Night at 7 p.m., which is a chance to catch reggae and hip hop shows. The following day, the Songjeong Beach Song Festival runs from 2 to 9 p.m. and culminates with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m.
▷ How to get there: Take busses 141, 39, 181 or 100-1 and get off at Songjeong Jugong Apt. Complex 1 (송정1단지 주공) stop. Go straight for 500 meters.
■ Dadaepo: folk music under the sunset
On the opposite side of town, Dadaepo Beach takes advantage of its status as the sunset destination of Korea by hosting the Dadaepo Folk Song Festival on Aug. 3 from 6:45 to 9 p.m. Well known in Busan for its Sunset Fountain of Dreams, music is naturally Dadaepo's speciality. This particular festival showcases acoustic music performances suitable for the entire family against the backdrop of Busan's setting sun. The Folk Song Festival will also peak with a fireworks performance at the end of the night.
▷ How to get there: Dadaepo Station (Metro line 1), exit 4.
■ Songdo: honoring a Busan legend
Songdo Beach, home to Busan's famous marine cable car, does something special every year: the Hyunin Festival. Done in honor of Busan's famous singer Hyunin, who passed away in 2002, the Hyunin Festival is a singing and performance contest held by City Hall from 2005.
This year, the festival will be held Aug. 1 through 4. Singers and idol groups will also make appearances, but the winner of this contest will be able to make his or her debut to join their ranks as a professional singer, so the stakes are high!
▷ How to get there: Take busses 7, 26, 30, 71 or 96 and get off at Songdo Beach stop.
The Busan Sea Festival's performances are free, except for sponsored events. More information is available at the website seafestival.co.kr.