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do koreans celebrate christmas: christmas in seoul

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.

starfield library during christmas in seoul, korea

It’s possible to find Christmas in Seoul!

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

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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.

lotte world mall during christmas in seoul

It’s easy to find trees, lights and festive spirit during Christmas in Seoul.

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.

little girl with christmas tree and presents in seoul

We still put up a tree and exchange presents western style at our house!

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.

Seoul Christmas Festival | 서울 크리스마스 페스티벌

Festival Dates: Cancelled for 2021. (December 4th, 2021 – January 1st, 2022)

Address: 41, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 청계천로 41

Check out the 7th Annual Seoul Christmas Festival at Cheonggyecheon for LED light displays, 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 Christmas Festival at Cheonggyecheon

All the pretty lights at Cheonggyecheon, during Christmas in Seoul.

Christmas Miracle at Lotte World Adventure

Festival Dates: November 12, 2021 – December 31, 2021

Address: November 12, 2021 – December 31, 2021

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.

lotte world adventure seoul korea

Lotte World has both indoor and outdoor area’s to explore. Photo by Ziggymaster (CC BY-SA 3)

For Christmas in Seoul, it lights up with a ton of Christmas festivities. You can enjoy a special Christmas parade and Santa’s Village, as well as a ton of thrilling rides and attractions.

TIP  |  If you’re a foreign passport holder, you can get admission tickets to Lotte World at almost 50% off by booking in advance. Book a Magic Pass to skip the long lines at the rides of your choice. Check out discounted 1 day passes for Lotte World Adventure here.

Christmas in Seoul at Everland

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 a Santa House, Rudolph Village, Moonlight Parade, Snow Park, and Starlight Zoo. It’s the perfect place to get fully in the Christmas mood.

everland during christmas in seoul

Everland is one of the most popular places to celebrate Christmas in Seoul. Photo by phploveme@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Christmas Fantasy takes place between November 24, 2021 – December 31, 2022. You can use public transit to get there by going to Jeondae∙Everland Station, Exit 4, then walking for a few minutes to the shuttle bus station. A much better option though is to book a round-trip shuttle bus to Everland. It’s much faster and very affordable.

TIP  |  To stay at Everland as late as possible, reserve the night bus package on Trazy. It leaves the amusement park just before closing, at 8:30PM, so you’ll be able to get your fill of all those incredible Christmas displays and events. This package includes shuttle bus transport and admission tickets at almost 30% off! Check out Night Bus Tour Packages to Everland here.

Buy Value, Live Together Christmas Market

Festival dates: TBA for 2021

Usually taking place in the last 2 weeks of December, the Buy Value, Live Together Christmas Market takes over the area between Sinchon Station and Yonsei University. Admire streets fully decked out for Christmas, shop for gifts, and look out for a gathering of Santas.

christmas blue santa

In Korea, Grandfather Santa (산타 할아버지) can be dressed in either blue or red.

Get there by going to Sinchon subway station on Line 2, exit 2.

Visit Myeongdong Cathedral for Christmas Mass

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.

meygondong cathedral during christmas in seoul korea

You can attend midnight mass at Myeongdong Cathedral by ⓒ Lee Beomsu, Korea Tourism Organization

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.

Lighting Festivals for Christmas in Seoul

During winter in Korea, the whole country is sparkling with incredible lighting festivals. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas in Seoul. You’ll be totally awed by the extravagance of these events, and they’re sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

garden of morning calm lighting festival

Be sure to bundle up for your Christmas in Seoul events. It’s cold!

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.

Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | 아침고요수목원 오색별빛정원전

Festival dates: December 3rd, 2021 – March 13th, 2022

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.

garden of morning calm lighting festival in winter

Visit the Garden of Morning Calm near Seoul to get into the Christmas spirit

During the festival, the Garden has extended evening hours, so visitors can enjoy the bulbs late into the night.

TIP  |  You can check out Nami Island, Petite France, the Ganchon Rail Bike, and the Garden of Morning Calm all on the same day! Be sure to check the winter departure times for the various destinations when deciding which locations to add to your day. Customize an all-inclusive tour, including round-trip transport between locations here.

Herb Island Light Festival | 허브아일랜드 불빛동화축제

Festival Dates: ongoing

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.

Herb Island lighting festival

Pocheon Herb Island during Christmas in Seoul. Photo by traveloriented/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

Christmas in Seoul for Families

If you’re spending Christmas in Seoul with your family, these are the attractions sure to get you and the kids into the holiday spirit.

christmas in seoul

Luna Happy Holidays at Seoul Land Theme Park

Festival Dates: November 27th, 2021 – March 1st, 2022

Address: 181, Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do

At Christmas, Seoul Land transforms into Luna Park – a night time theme park complete with incredible light shows, a Milky Way Starlight tunnel, and a hologram screened roller coaster. Rides are available for kids of all ages.

For the month of December, Seoul Land celebrates Christmas in Seoul with magic shows, performances and special events. Be on the lookout for Santa Meoteol and his sack of presents!

TIP  |  Seoul Land 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. Get discounted tickets for Seoul Land here.

Onemount Snow Park

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.

onemount snow park korea

You can dogsled at Onemount Snow Park. Photo by yuseokoh@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

At Onemount, 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.

Check for discounted tickets to Onemount Snow Park here.

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.

Are you dreaming of roast turkey for Christmas dinner?

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.

christmas in korea

The Christmas dinner set from the Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul.

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 things 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 2021 will be updated as they become available.

Hearth

Hearth in Gangnam is offering Christmas dinner from December 24 – 26th, for 55,000 won per person.

christmas in seoul: hearth dinner

Donum Solis Winehouse

This newly opened restaurant near KyungHee University has Christmas dinner on December 24th and 26th. It’s a 3 course French meal, with wine pairing for 79,000 won per person. Reserve on their IG page @donum.solis.winehouse.

christmas in seoul: donum solis

1842 Seoul

For a Eastern European inspiried Christmas meal, head to 1842 in Itaewon on December 24th or 25th.

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Comments:

  • December 24, 2019

    the island lighting looks amazing! its amazing how places like South Korea and Japan have taken to Christmas – mostly for the commercial aspects!

    reply...
  • December 19, 2019

    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!

    reply...

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