Christmas in Seoul | The 15 Best Festive Things to Do for the Holidays [UPDATED 2022]
The holidays are just a few weeks away, and I bet you’re looking for all the most festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Seoul. Don’t fret.
Whether you’re celebrating as a couple, Korean style, visiting with family, or re-creating Christmas dinner as an expat, this guide has got you covered with the best lights, festivals and food to check out for Christmas in Korea.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- how to celebrate Christmas in Seoul
- where to find Christmas festivals in Seoul
- the best lighting festivals to attend on a day trip from Seoul
- where to find Christmas food just like home
*Any purchases made through affiliate links on this site help me run this blog. Support my blog here.
In this guide
- 1 Christmas in Seoul | What to Expect
- 2 How to Celebrate Christmas in Seoul
- 3 Christmas in Seoul | Holiday Festivals & Events
- 3.1 Seoul Christmas Festival | 서울 크리스마스 페스티벌
- 3.2 Seoul Light at DDP | 서울라이트
- 3.3 Seoul Lantern Festival | 서울빛초롱축제
- 3.4 Miracle Winter at Lotte World Adventure | 롯데월드
- 3.5 See the Nutcracker Ballet | 호두까기인형
- 3.6 Luna Happy Holidays at Seoulland | 서울랜드
- 3.7 Christmas Fantasy at Everland | 에버랜드
- 3.8 Visit Myeongdong Cathedral for Christmas Mass | 서울 명동성당
- 3.9 Onemount Snow Park | 원마운트 스노우파크
- 4 Where to See Christmas Lights in Seoul
- 5 Limited Edition Winter Tours in Korea
- 6 Christmas in Seoul | Christmas Markets
- 7 Where to find Christmas Food in Seoul
Christmas in Seoul | What to Expect
Wander around the streets of Seoul during Christmas, and the city looks like one giant lighting festival. Huge displays of sparkling bulbs can be found adorning streets, department stores and parks. Christmas decorations and goodies are easy to buy all over the city.
Christmas in Seoul sure looks like the one we’re used to in the Western World. But that’s about as far as it goes.
For most Koreans, Christmas is a commercial and cosmetic event. The western traditions of gathering with family, exchanging meaningful presents, and enjoying a huge meal, mostly don’t happen here.
In Korea, these things are mostly reserved for the family-centric holidays of Seollal and Chuseok. Christmas in Seoul is mostly a romantic holiday for couples.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Christmas in Seoul, just that it might be slightly different than what you’re used to at home.
How to Celebrate Christmas in Seoul
If you’re spending Christmas in Seoul, you can definitely get your fill of Christmas trees, Christmas dinner and shopping in this megacity. Sure, it won’t be exactly like home, but here are some suggestions so you can do like the locals do.
Christmas in Seoul | Travel Essentials
Travel requirements, visas, and passport photos for a trip to South Korea
Hotels and Other Accommodation
Booking | Agoda | Klook | HotelsCombined
Travel Insurance for South Korea
Malaysian Residents | Singapore Residents | Thai Residents
Wifi, SIM Cards, and Portable Wifi
4G unlimited data SIM card | Portable and Pocket 4G WiFi
Airport Transfers and Luggage Delivery
AREX Incheon Airport Express Train
K Airport Limousine Bus from Incheon Airport
Incheon Airport to Seoul Private and Shared Transfers
Gimhae Airport to Busan Private Airport Transfers
Luggage Delivery To/From Hotel or Airport
Money-Saving Transit and Transport Passes
Discover Seoul Pass (doubles as a T-Money Card) with FREE admission to 66 tourist attractions
Korea Tour Card (T-Money) Transit Card
Korea Rail Pass: unlimited rides via high-speed rail and travel to over 600 stations on 80 different routes (2,3,4, or 5 days)
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
Seoul City Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus Day | Seoul Night View Course
Daegu Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus Tour
Day Tours and Discounted Admission Tickets
Get Your Guide | Klook | Trazy | Viator
Christmas in Seoul | Holiday Festivals & Events
Sure, the weather outside is frightful, but that doesn’t mean you should hibernate at home for the holidays. There’s a number of lovely festivals and events to go to for Christmas in Seoul.
Seoul Christmas Festival | 서울 크리스마스 페스티벌
Festival Dates: TBA for 2022, but usually last 3 weeks of December
Address: 41, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 청계천로 41
Check out the Seoul Christmas Festival at Cheonggyecheon Plaza for LED light displays, a Santa Village, Christmas tree, and 5 incredible photo zones.
Festivities run from 5 to 11PM, and admission is free. Ride the subway to Gwanghwamun Station, and take Exit 5 to reach the festival site.
Seoul Light at DDP | 서울라이트
Festival Dates: December 17th, 2022 – January 1st, 2023
Address:281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 중구 을지로 281 (을지로7가)
Seoul Light is a large-scale media light event that takes place multiple times a year at at Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
I’ve always thought that this amazing piece of architecture looks like a spaceship, and the organizers seem to agree. The theme for this year is Universe – imagining that a spaceship landed in Seoul.
Shows are free, and run from 19:00 – 22:00, with special shows to celebrate Christmas in Seoul scheduled from December 22nd – 25th at the same times. I’ve seen Seoul Light on a few different occasions, and been in total awe at the scale. It’s definitely worth checking out. Get more details here.
Seoul Lantern Festival | 서울빛초롱축제
Festival Dates: December 19th – 31st, 2022
Address: 172 , Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 세종대로 172 5호선 광화문역
The Seoul Lantern Festival is one of the biggest and most popular festivals to attend in Seoul, during Christmas in Korea.
For the past 14 years, gorgeous large-scale paper lanterns and colourful LED sculptures have brought a 1.3-km long path along Cheonggyecheon Stream wonderfully to life every winter. The Seoul Lantern Festival is incredibly popular, with 3 million visitors attending every year.
This year, it seem like the event has been moved to Gwanghwamun Square. It will be held in conjunction with the Gwanghwa Festival, where stunning media light art is displayed on the building facades around the Square.
Check for update on their website.
Miracle Winter at Lotte World Adventure | 롯데월드
Festival Dates: November 11th – December 31st, 2022
Address: 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 240
Lotte World Adventure is a popular theme park in the middle of Seoul. With both indoor and outdoor spaces, it’s a perfect place to visit in Korea in winter.
For Christmas in Seoul, it lights up with a ton of Christmas festivities. You can enjoy a special Christmas parade and performance, white winter village, special photo zones, and a ton of thrilling rides and attractions… of course.
Full festival details on their website (Korean only).
DISCOUNTED LOTTE WORLD PASSES | Foreign passport holders can get Lotte World passes at a discounted price in advance. Book a combo ticket with the Lotte World Aquarium, or a Magic Pass to skip long lines at the rides of your choice. Check full details here.
See the Nutcracker Ballet | 호두까기인형
If the mention of the Nutcracker Ballet doesn’t remind you of Christmas, than I don’t know what will. There are a few companies performing this classic ballet, so it’s easy to catch a show during Christmas in Seoul.
Korean National Ballet | December 17th – 25th, 2022
Address: Seoul Arts Centre | 2406, Nambusunhwan-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 서초구 남부순환로 2406 (서초동)
For Christmas in Seoul, the Korean National Ballet will perform the Nutcracker in the Opera Theatre of the Seoul Arts Centre. Get tickets here.
I recommend heading over to the area a bit earlier to check out the nearby National Gugak Centre. They have an excellent free museum where you can learn about and play Korea’s traditional instruments. Excellent for children!
Universal Ballet | Dec 22nd – 31st, 2022
Address: Sejong Centre Grand Theatre | 175, Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 세종대로 175 (세종로)
I saw this last year with my 7 year old daughter, and while she said it was sooo BORING, I loved hearing all the memorable songs from the Nutcracker with her. Get tickets here.
TRADITIONAL PERFORMANCES AT THE GUGAK CENTRE | Spend a Saturday afternoon watching a traditional folklore performance at the wonderful National Gugak Centre in Seoul. Check full details here.
Luna Happy Holidays at Seoulland | 서울랜드
Festival Dates: November 26th, 2022 – March 1st, 2023
Address: 181, Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 과천시 광명로 181 (막계동)
For Christmas in Seoul, Seoulland transforms into Luna Park – a night time theme park complete with the Luna Laser Winter Fantasy light shows, Snow Music Globe, Luna Winter Magic Concert, and much more. Rides are available for kids of all ages.
During the day, families can also have a blast at the Snow Fun Park, with the 120-m long Lava Slow Sled, Snow Playground, Scoop Net fishing for Smelt, and ice sledding. Get full details on their website.
TIP | SeoulLand is easily accessible by Seoul subway. Get on Line 4 to Grand Park Station, and take Exit 2. From there, you can walk for about 15 minutes to the entrance of the Park, or hop on the Elephant Train for an additional 700 (child) to 1000 (adult) won each. Pick up hugely discounted tickets and get free admission to the snow sledding area in winter too!
Christmas Fantasy at Everland | 에버랜드
FESTIVAL DATES: December 1st, 2022 – January 1st, 2023
Address: 199, Everland-ro, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 용인시 처인구 포곡읍 에버랜드로 199 (포곡읍)
Everland is a huge theme park in Yongin, near Seoul. Visit during Christmas in Seoul for some of the most incredible lighting displays in the country, a massive Christmas tree, and tons of special photo zones.
Along with thrilling rides, you’ll also find Santa’s Village, the Bling Bling Christmas Parade, Christmas food market, Snowman Post Office, and much, much more.
Full details on their website (Korean only).
EVERLAND SHUTTLE BUS and DAY TRIP PACKAGES | It’s possible to use public transit to get to Everland by heading to Jeondae∙Everland Station, Exit 4, then walking for a few minutes to the shuttle bus station. A much better option though, especially in the cold weather is to book either a round-trip shuttle bus to Everland, or all-inclusive package. It’s much faster, more comfortable, and very affordable.
Visit Myeongdong Cathedral for Christmas Mass | 서울 명동성당
Address: 74, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 중구 명동길 74 (명동2가)
Myeongdong Cathedral is the place to go if you’re searching for Christmas Mass. Each year, the nativity scene is re-enacted starting at 10:30PM, followed by Midnight Mass. Seating for the event begins at 9:00PM, and transport details can be found on their website.
Even if you’re a non-believer, Myeongdong Cathedral is worth a look. Be sure to have a wander around Myeongdong area while you’re there. The whole area will be brilliantly lit, and it’s a great place to get all your Christmas shopping done too.
Onemount Snow Park | 원마운트 스노우파크
Address: 300, Hallyu world-ro, Ilsanseo-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 고양시 일산서구 한류월드로 300 (대화동)
Onemount Snow Park is the first and biggest indoor snow park in Korea. It’s the perfect place for kids to get into the wintry Christmas spirit in Seoul.
At Onemount Snow Park families can ice skate, watch aurora and ice shows, sled down the snow hill, or even take a dog sled ride. Infants under 36 months enter free, with proof of age.
Where to See Christmas Lights in Seoul
During winter in Korea, the whole country is sparkling with incredible Christmas lights. Streets, department stores, and malls go all out to showcase an incredible display of lights, with special lighting festivals taking things to the next level.
This is a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas in Seoul, without breaking the bank. You’ll be totally awed by the extravagance of these events. They are sure to get you into the holiday spirit.
For festivals located outside of Seoul, it can be seriously cold. Be sure to bundle up, get hot packs from the convenience store to warm your hands, and wear thick socks and warm boots.
Herb Island Light Festival | 허브아일랜드 불빛동화축제
Festival Dates: November 1st, 2022 – March 31st, 2023
Address: 35, Cheongsin-ro 947beon-gil, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 포천시 신북면 청신로947번길 35
Celebrate Christmas in Korea at Herb Island in Pocheon. You can really get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas Market, Santa Village, and a ton of sparkling lights.
Get there independently by taking Seoul Subway Line 1 to Soyosan Station and then transferring to bus #57, bound for Sinbuk Oncheon. If you prefer your transport handled for you, book a day tour that includes stops at Pocheon Art Valley, a Strawberry Farm, and the Herb Island Lighting Festival.
Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | 아침고요수목원 오색별빛정원전
Festival dates: December 9th, 2022 – March 23rd, 2023
Address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432
The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival is the premier lighting festival in the country. It’s one of the largest and most popular events to mark Christmas in Seoul, with 30,000 bulbs covering thousands of acres of land. This is one of the places in Korea where you might be able to see snow, if you’re timing’s right.
During the festival, the Garden has extended evening hours, so visitors can enjoy the bulbs late into the night.
ALPACA WORLD + THE GARDEN OF MORNING CALM LIGHTING FESTIVAL | Pet fluffy alpacas and see the Garden of Morning Calm’s stunning Starlight Festival on this day tour designed with plenty of time to explore. Check full details and availability here.
More Places to See Christmas Lights in Seoul
You don’t have to attend these special lighting festivals to get your fill of brilliant Christmas lights in Seoul. From streets to malls to parks, the whole city is alive with sparkling bulbs.
Here’s a few places where you can see more gorgeous Christmas lights in Seoul… totally free!
Address: Shinsegae Department Store | 63, Sogong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 중구 소공로 63
During Christmas in Seoul, Myeongdong is transformed into a glittery winter wonderland, with Christmas lights decorating fountains, streets, buildings and more. You’ll find Christmas displays at Young Plaza, Avenuel, Lotte Department Store, and Shinsegae.
The media light art show on the facade of the Shinsegae Department Store is definitely the highlight of the area though. It can get seriously crowded at peak times, so I recommend checking it out on a weekday night. It’s on until January 31st, 2023, and plays on a loop from 17:40 – 22:30.
The Hyundai Seoul | 더현대서울
Address: Parc 1, 108, Yeoui-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul | 서울시 영등포구 여의대로 108, Parc 1
The Hyundai in Yeouido is Seoul’s largest mall, as large as 13 football fields. For Christmas in Seoul, they’ve got a 3,300-square metre H Village with a huge Christmas tree, more than 120 snow-covered trees, 11 huts, and 6,000 sparkling lights.
Lotte World Mall | 롯데월드몰
Address: 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 300
Behind Lotte World Mall in Jamsil, you’ll find the beautifully decorated Charlotte Garden, a huge Christmas tree, and a working carousel!
Starfield Library | 별마당도서관
Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 강남구 영동대로 513
The gorgeous Starfield Library is worth a visit in any season, but a glorious new tree graces it every Christmas in Seoul.
Limited Edition Winter Tours in Korea
The Christmas season in Korea is freezing, busy, and short! Don’t miss these special cold weather events and activities that are only available for 2 or 3 months of the year.
- Elysian Ski Resort + Nami Island + the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | December 9th, 2022 – March 3rd, 2023
- Alpaca World + Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | December 9th, 2022 – March 15th, 2023
- Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival, Snowy Land + Strawberry Picking | December 20th, 2022 – February 28th, 2023
- Vivaldi Park Snowy Land Sledding Tour | December 20th, 2022 – February 28th, 2023
- Eobi Ice Valley, Nami Island, and Strawberry Picking | December 21st, 2022 – January 30th, 2023
- Cheongyang Alps Village Ice Fountain Festival | December 26th, 2022 – February 10th, 2023
- Ice Fishing and Snowflake Tour in Gangwondo | January 1st – February 12th, 2023
- Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival Tour from Seoul | January 14th – 24th, 2023
- Skiing, Snowboarding, and Sledding Tours across Korea | Various dates
Christmas in Seoul | Christmas Markets
Christmas isn’t really Christmas without a wander through a festive holiday market, full of sparkling ornaments, winter treats, and a Santa a two, is it? Fortunately, there are a number of European inspired holiday markets to attend to celebrate Christmas in Seoul.
Here’s a few special Christmas markets to check out around Seoul. If you can’t make it to any of these, head over to Lotte World Mall in Jamsil for a huge market display on the 1st floor.
- December 3rd | Marché de Noël Seorae French Village
- December 4th ONLINE ONLY | HMK Merry & Bright Market
- December 10th | LIX Marché de Noël
- Dec 10th -11th | European Christmas Market at Hansung University Station Exit 2 (12 – 7PM)
- December 17th | HMK x LIT LOUNGE Holiday Market
Where to find Christmas Food in Seoul
Around this time of year, expats in Seoul start to go a little crazy searching for a western style Christmas dinner. I guess it’s that one holiday that makes us dream of home. Fortunately, there’s a ton of places to find the roasted turkey Christmas dinner of your dreams, from casual meals in pubs to high end meals in 5 star hotels.
Where to Order Christmas Dinner in Seoul
Roasting a turkey independently isn’t all too easy in Korea. A lot of apartments don’t have ovens, and finding a turkey can be challenging, to say the least. Fortunately, it’s possible to order full Christmas dinner sets from hotels and restaurants across the city.
We ordered the Christmas set from the Intercontinental Hotel a few years ago, and it was enough food to comfortably feed 8 adults and their children.
For any take-out orders, be sure to reserve well in advance.
Christmas Dinners at Restaurants
Most Christmas dinners can be found in the Itaewon area, but they can also be found in hotel restaurants all around the city. This is a super popular thing to do for friends, families and couples – both Korean and not – so book early if this is how you plan to celebrate Christmas in Seoul.
*Christmas dinners in Seoul for 2022 will be updated as they become available.
- Christmas Lunch at Braai Republic | December 25th, 12 – 4PM, 60,000 won pp
- Emilio Cibo & Vino | December 24th, 160,000 won pp
- El Pino 323 | December 25th, 80,000 won pp
- The Tandoor | December 23rd – 25th, 65,000 won pp
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Christmas in Seoul: Essential Info and FAQs
So THAT’S how you celebrate Christmas in Seoul? What’s at the top of your list?
the island lighting looks amazing! its amazing how places like South Korea and Japan have taken to Christmas – mostly for the commercial aspects!
Happy Holidays Andy! 🙂 You are totally right – it’s so commercial and such a holiday for couples here. Big difference from the Western World…
Such a sparkly city! Chicago was like that at Christmas time; I think cold places like to bedazzle themselves even more than usual to distract us from the frigid temps!
Happy holidays Lex!! Haha yeah, Seoul is definitely sparkly on the surface, but I definitely miss the feeling of a real Christmas from North America. Here, it’s much more about appearances than anything else (unless of course, you’re religious!) 😉