Check Out the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival

Written by Ekaterina Tomina

Have you ever seen 70,000 lights in one place? Believe me, it’s an incredible scene!

South Korea is a beautiful country with a rich and vibrant culture. Attending one of their many festivals is perhaps the best way to experience it.

Every October, the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival takes place in a small city called Jinju in a southern region of the city. I’ve seen a lot of festivals during my life, but this was without a doubt one of the most memorable.

For 18 years I was part of a dance group and every year we would travel to between one and three different festivals around the world.

At the Jinju festival, Koreans wish peace for every family. The Korean people have a long-standing tradition of putting lanterns on the water as a reminder of the men and women who gave their lives for their nation during the war with Japan in the 1500s. Over time this tradition has grown into this magnificent and amazing festival.

The main action of the festival takes place between two bridges over the Nam River. This part of the city is covered with various figures that are lifted from the inside. There are so many different lights. Some figures are launched into the river, others are located at parks on the river bank. A floating bridge which is installed across the river allows you to have a close look at some of the floating lanterns. A small bamboo grove is decorated with various lights as well. You can find wonderful tunnels that are decorated with flashlights that people can even buy as a souvenir. 

At the beginning of the festival, there’s a huge parade, which goes through the main streets of the city. It’s a unique moment where you can see all the artists of the festival: local groups in their traditional Korean costumes alongside groups from different countries each showcasing their culture. Every evening you can see various performances at several stages by the river.   

There’s also a traditional Korean park with temples and museums at one of the banks of the river, so it’s a great idea to visit it during the day. This park is fenced and stands on a small mountain. 

The festival program traditionally includes a theatrical performance from the best theatre troupe in Jinju. Sometimes, it takes place right on the rocky bank of the river. It’s always an amazing performance even if you don’t understand the Korean language, because the actors’ emotions and scenery perfectly communicate what’s happening. It’s a love story about a couple during the difficult war period and I highly recommend that you check it out.

After enjoying the wonderful performances, I suggest you go for a walk along the waterfront. 

Here you’ll find tents with traditional Korean food and also the cuisines of different countries.

At the end of the festival, you won’t want to miss the great firework display. You’ll appreciate the lights more than ever as they surround you not only on the river and its banks, but in the sky as well.

I was lucky enough to visit the festival in Jinju three times. Every time I had an incredible experience.

Have you ever been to an unforgettable festival? Let me know in the comments where it was and what made it so amazing!

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