Dreaming of a light Christmas
Busan prides itself on its seaside location. Its seven beaches are gifts that keep on giving throughout the year. In spring, families walk sandy shores to feel the gentle breeze. In summer, the beaches are the lifeblood of the city, providing citizens with endless fun and relaxation. In fall, many Busan festivals invite people to spend an afternoon by the water.
With shorter days and longer nights, even Korea's happiest citizens feel the doldrums of winter. However, this season, the City by the Sea transforms into the City of Lights. Light festivals citywide celebrate the culture and landscape of the region. Whether by Busan's hottest beach, central commercial district, or historic Oldtown, the city's light festivals offer a joyous atmosphere for the whole family. The bright structures illuminate the darkest nights of the year and fill people with the warmth of knowing that brighter days are to come.
This year, the festivals across the city express messages of encouragement and hope for citizens and visitors. Come to Busan, the nation's top nighttime destination, and experience the warmth for yourself.
Fields of bright lights illuminate the beach at the Haeundae Light Festival.
Haeundae is never short of picture-taking opportunities.
■ Haeundae Light Festival, Dec. 2 to Jan. 31
Haundae Beach, the most visited summer holiday destination in Korea, is a dazzling sea of lights this winter. The Haeundae Light Festival returns to celebrate its 10th anniversary and illuminates the beach and surrounding area. Bright structures and picture backdrops are lit up daily from 5 p.m. to midnight between Dec. 2 and Jan. 31.
The festival's theme is "Once Again, with the Light of Hope" as an homage to Busan citizens who overcome difficult times like light shining through the darkness.
Gunam-ro, the pedestrian walkway between the Haeundae metro station and the beach, offers media arts, illumination and live performances throughout the festival period. In addition, various activities, such as an MBTI test, face painting, Christmas candle making and more, are set up for visitors. The area, previously the main venue for fountain water shows until October, is a popular destination to celebrate the holidays. Gourmet restaurants, trendy cafes and exciting nightlife attract more and more people every year.
Structures inspired by the four seasons, collectively titled "Light Milky Way," illuminate the path between the Grand Josun Busan hotel and Sea Life Busan Aquarium. Lights also adorn Haeundae Market, like a beacon to lure foodies toward iconic restaurants and food stalls.
※How to get there: Haeundae Station (metro line 2), exits 3 and 5.
The city's holiday decorations are best enjoyed with loved ones.
■ Seomyeon Light Festival, until Jan. 20
Seomyeon, the central commercial hub of Busan, is an ideal place for shopping, food and entertainment. But this year, people have even more reason to visit. The Seomyeon Light Festival, which was held at Busan Citizens Park last year, has relocated to Seomyeon 1st Street, the main road in front of Lotte Department Store. The lights have been on since October and will continue until Jan. 20.
The area is divided into five zones, with each zone representing a different theme: "Walk with Light," "Walk the Sky," "Imagine with Light," "Shine the Light," and "Walk in the Light." Each section features different displays and structures to the delight of visitors. The highlight of the festival is the media facade installed on the KT&G Sangsangmadang Busan. The giant digital canvas shows off luminous artwork.
※How to get to Seomyeon 1beon-ga (Seomyeon 1st Street): Seomyeon Station (metro line 1), exit 7. Walk about 300 meters south.
An illuminated Christmas tree structure is the centerpiece of the Busan Christmas Culture Festival on Gwangbok-ro in Jung-gu district.
Visitors enjoy the lights and first-rate shopping in Nampo-dong.
■ Busan Christmas Culture Festival, Dec. 8 to Jan. 14
Busan's representative winter festival is the annual Busan Christmas Culture Festival in Jung-gu district. Every year, Nampo-dong and the surrounding neighborhood are decked with colorful lights and holiday decor, especially the 1.2-km stretch between Nampo Station (metro line 1) exit 7 and Gwangbok-ro Intersection.
This year's festival runs for 38 days from Dec. 8 to Jan. 14. On Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m., a lighting ceremony to open the festival will take place on a special stage set up in front of the Christmas tree centerpiece. Aside from shopping, visitors can participate in a number of hands-on activities.
In addition, a special program titled "Our Neighborhood Choir" will feature choir groups from churches and temples around Jung-gu. Singers will be on hand throughout the festival period, welcoming guests with their beautiful harmony.
Furthermore, a "Happy Kang Daniel Day" area will be set up to celebrate the birthday of Kang Daniel, a K-pop idol from Busan. Also, from Dec. 13, the 2023 Sanbok Sky Festival will take place along the section of Sanbok Road between Hyekwang High School and Yeongju Sky Eye Observatory near Jung-Ang Park.
※How to get to Gwangbok-ro intersection: Nampo Station (metro line 1), exit 7. Walk about 10 minutes to the right.
Decorations at Shinsegae Simon Busan Premium Outlet brings smiles to kids from one to ninety-two.