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One of two of the most important ancestral rituals in Korean society, the Sajik Daeje, or "Great Rite for the Gods of Earth and Agriculture" is designated as Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 111. This yearly ceremonial rite was held to honor the ancestors and pay homage to the great gods of land and grains. It was also held to pray for peace throughout the land and for the prosperity of the people. Today, the memorial ceremony and rituals are done at the Sajikdan (Sajik Altar) with offerings of fresh meat from cows, pigs, sheep as well as other prepared meats and various crops. Ceremonies also consist of fasting, yeongsinnye (greeting the descending gods), choheonnye, aheonnye and jongheonnye (three wine offerings), eumbongnye (sharing offered foods between participants in the rite) and mangnye (the burning of written prayers). During the Sajik Daeje, visitors can experience music, dancing, food, traditional costumes and the spirit of the ceremony. The memorial services remain preserved based on specific procedures and strict guidelines and offer a unique understanding of the Korean cultural heritage. This significant experience embodies one of the most solemn rites carried out by the kings and civil and military officials of the Joseon Dynasty.
Date & Time: Third Sunday of September
Seoul Drum Festival
Beginning in 1999, the Seoul Drum Festival has become one of the most popular international festivals in Seoul. Joined by professional and amateur musicians, the festival offers visitors a chance to listen, learn and experience percussion art. The festival features a variety of programs including performances by Korean percussion groups and famous performance groups from around the world, the popular Percussion Performance Parade in which visitors are invited to participate, exhibitions of drums from around the world, a drum-beating charity event, a percussion art market and percussion workshops in which professional artists help visitors learn how to play percussion instruments.
Date & Time: September - October Location: TBD (Please call for more information)
Seoul International Fireworks Festival
For one night every year, the night skies above Hangang Park are ablaze with color with spectacular fireworks for the Seoul International Fireworks Festival. One of Korea’s biggest events, the Seoul International Fireworks Festival has drawn over one million visitors every year ever since it was first held in 2000. Dazzling fireworks displays are put on by both Korean teams as well as international teams. In the past, world-class teams from 10 countries including Japan, the United States, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong have participated in the festival. The festival starts with a cutting-edge multimedia pyrotechnics show combining music, lights, videos, and a laser show in a total visual extravaganza. Many other programs are held during the festival in addition to the main event such as face painting, caricature drawing and a balloon art festival.
Date & Time: September - October Location: Yeouido Hangang Park
Hi Seoul Festival
The Hi Seoul Festival is one of the world's largest annual performing arts festivals with an average of 1.5 million people participating in the event annually. The festival’s popularity is due to its non-verbal nature, focusing on non-verbal performances that promote international unity by enabling people to communicate with one another through music and gestures, going beyond the barriers of language, race and age.
Over 300 performances are presented during the festival, including performances by world-famous performing groups from all over the world and popular Korean non-verbal performing groups. Participating countries in the past include Canada, France, China, Australia, Brazil and Spain.
Date & Time: October (Subject to change; please call to confirm) Location: Various areas throughout Seoul
Seoul Silver Grass Festival
The Seoul Silver Grass Festival is a festival that has been held annually since 2002 at World Cup Park. Highlights of the festival include live musical performances, both traditional and modern, a photography contest, outdoor movie screenings, and several fun activities for the whole family. The Seoul Silver Grass Festival is the perfect for those who want a great way to spend a cool, autumn evening in a field of grass and nature with the backdrop of an illuminated night sky.
Date & Time: October Location: World Cup Park
Seoul Lantern Festival (name change planned)
Every November the Cheonggyecheon (Stream), an 11 km-long modern stream that runs through downtown Seoul, is lit up by thousands of lanterns from over 20 different nations during the Seoul Lantern Festival. The festival invites people from all over the world to come to Seoul and light a lantern, a symbol of 'hope and friendship'. The festival kicks off with a special Lighting Ceremony on the opening day, with daily lighting ceremonies held every afternoon during the festival. Other events include special concerts, traditional performances and street art performances. Visitors are also able to participate in several activities such as making lanterns out of hanji (traditional Korean paper).
Date & Time: November Location: Cheonggyecheon
Seoul Kimchi Making & Sharing Festival
Declared as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013, kimchi making and kimchi culture is a festivity that can be enjoyed by all nations. The first ever Seoul Kimchi Making & Sharing Festival was held in 2014 and will continue as an annual activity in the future.
Date & Time: November Location: Seoul Plaza, Gwanghwamun Square (Exact Location TBA)
Dongji (Winter Solstice)
Dongji, or winter solstice, is celebrated on the day of the year when daylight hours are the shortest, usually on or around December 22nd of the solar calendar. Starting from Dongji the days become longer, marking the coming of spring, which is regarded as the real start of a new year. Thus, Dongji is sometimes referred to as "Little New Year's Day".