>  Asia   >  Korea   >  Christmas in Seoul 2023 | The 26 Best Festive Things to Do for the Holidays (from a Local)
starfield library during christmas in seoul, korea

The holidays are not too far off now, and I bet you’re looking for all the most festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Seoul.

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.

christmas in seoul | christmas tree at starfield library

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

*Any purchases made through affiliate links on this site help me run this blog. Support my blog here

In this guide

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.

christmas in seoul

Matching Christmas pjs, a tree, and as many presents as she can handle.


That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Christmas in Seoul, just that it might be slightly different from 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 just like the locals do.

christmas in seoul | christmas tree at starfield library in coex mall

There’s a new incredible Christmas tree at Starfield Library every year. This was one of my favourites.

Christmas in Seoul | Light Festivals & Holiday Events

Sure, the weather outside is frightful, but that doesn’t mean you should hibernate at home for the holidays. There’s are so many lovely festivals and events to go to for Christmas in Seoul – many of them free or very affordable.

christmas in seoul | garden of morning calm lighting festival

There are huge lighting festivals to go to during Christmas in Seoul.

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 holiday festivals taking things to the next level.

christmas in seoul | streets of myeongdong

Ready to plan the perfect magical holiday in Seoul for Christmas?

The great thing is that you don’t actually have to attend any special lighting festivals to get your fill of brilliant Christmas lights in Seoul – the whole city is alive with sparkling bulbs.

It’s a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas in Seoul, without breaking the bank. You’ll be totally awed by the extravagance of these holiday displays and events. They’re sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

La Boutique D’Harry | The Hyundai Seoul | 더현대서울

WHEN: November 1st – December 25th, 2023

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 European themed Christmas village called La Boutique D’Harry. Check out the 11-metre tall Christmas tree, snow-covered trees, thousands of sparkling lights. and market alleyways.

A reservation is required to enter La Boutique D’Harry. It’s free, but must be done through Naver. If that’s difficult for you, you can try for walk-up tickets, but I warn you, it could be difficult. This holiday event in Seoul is VERY popular.

Boutique D’Harry | Hyundai Dep’t Store COEX | 현대백화점

Festival dates: November 1st – December 31st, 2023

Address: 517, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 강남구 테헤란로 517

If you don’t manage to snag tickets for Boutique D’Harry at the Hyundai in Yeouido, there’s a smaller scale, but equally adorable installation at the Hyundai Department Store in Gangnam. No reservations required!

Starfield Library | 별마당도서관

WHEN: starts November 12th, 2023 

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. For 2023, they’ve gone with a glittery gold theme.

christmas in seoul | starfield library

The Christmas tree at Starfield Library changes every year.

There’s also a light show projected onto the colossal shelves of the Starfield Library, nightly from 6 to 10, in 15 minute intervals. This is a good event to visit for Christmas in Seoul, at the same time as Boutique D’Harry, since both places are close to COEX.

My Dearest Wish | Lotte Dep’t Store | 롯데백화점

WHEN: November 3rd – December 25th, 2023

Address: 81, Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 중구 남대문로 81

At Lotte Department Store’s main branch in Myeongdong, get into the festive spirit in front of a 15-metre tall gorgeously decorated Christmas Tree. You can also enjoy Christmas themed stories on a large media facade, before heading inside for shopping.

The entire Myeongdong area is decorated with sparkling lights for Christmas in Seoul, so be sure to wander around to find all the holiday decor on streets, malls, and stores.

Shinsegae Magical Winter Fantasy | 신세계 크리스마스

Festival dates: November 9th, 2023 – January 31st, 2024

Address: Shinsegae Department Store Main Branch, 63 Sogong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul | 신세계백화점 본점

Christmas in Seoul has come early to the Shinsegae Department’s Store’s main branch in Myeongdong. This stunning light display has already started its nightly shows, which are projected onto the exterior wall of the building.

This is a very popular event for Christmas in Korea, so do not underestimate the crowds on the sidewalk – especially on weekend evenings. The show runs in a rotating loop from 5:30 – 10:00PM, but it doesn’t really get totally dark until about 6:30PM, so maybe hit one of the later shows.

Lotte World Mall | 롯데월드몰

WHEN: November 10th, 2023 – February 12th, 2024

Address: 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 300

Behind Lotte World Mall in Jamsil, you’ll find a beautiful Christmas installation, with a massive Christmas tree, working carousel, and festive garden to explore.

christmas in seoul | lotte world mall

There’s a working carousel behind Lotte World Mall!

Be sure to walk around nearby Seokchon Lake Park for the Luminiere Light Festival while you’re there!

Miracle Winter at Lotte World Adventure | 롯데월드

Festival Dates: November 25th – December 31st, 2023

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.

christmas in seoul | lotte world miracle winter

Miracle Winter at Lotte World promises to be full of sparkle.

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).

christmas in seoul | lotte world miracle winter

There are special parades and shows at Lotte World for Christmas in Seoul.

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.

Seoul Lantern Festival | 서울빛초롱축제

Festival Dates: December 15th – January 21st, 2023

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.

christmas in seoul | seoul lantern festival

The Lantern Festival is one of winter’s biggest events © Live Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

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.

christmas in seoul | christmas market during seoul lantern festival

Don’t miss the Christmas Market at Gwanghwamun Square!

Last year the event was also held at Gwanghwamun Square, in conjunction with the Gwanghwa Festival, where stunning media light art was displayed on the building facades around the Square. Look out for that AND a wonderful Christmas Market too!

Check their website, for full details.

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.

christmas in seoul | nutcracker ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet is a Christmas classic all over the world.

Korean National Ballet | December 9th – 25th, 2023

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.

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!

national gugak centre

The National Gugak Centre Museum is free and experiential.

Universal Ballet | Dec 21st – 31st, 2023

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.

Christmas Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral | 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.

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.

Seoul Light at DDP | 서울라이트

Festival Dates: December 21st – 31st, 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 the incredible Dongdaemun Design Plaza.

The Seoul Light winter event usually concludes with a huge NYE countdown and celebration, and this year, it promises to be truly epic.

Shows are free, and run from 18:00 – 22:00, every half hour. 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 Christmas Festival | 서울 크리스마스 페스티벌

Festival Dates: TBA for 2023, 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.

Seoul Christmas Festival at Cheonggyecheon

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

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.

Luna Happy Holidays at Seoulland | 서울랜드

Festival Dates: TBA for 2023, but November 26th, 2022 – March 1st, 2023 last year

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. Admission tickets include free access to the snow sledding area in winter too! Check full details here..

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.

christmas in seoul | onemount snow park

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

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.

Check out day tours to Onemount Snow Park here.

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.

christmas in seoul | tornado sled at snowy land vivaldi park

You can only ride the Tornado sled at Snowy Land for 2 or 3 months of the year.

christmas in korea | Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival at Alps Village

The Alps Village Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival is excellent winter fun.

Where to See Christmas Lights in Korea (near Seoul)

Head just a little bit outside of Seoul and you’ll find some of Korea’s most spectacular light festivals and holiday events.

christmas in korea | herb island light festival

It can be very cold in more rural areas of Korea.

It can be significantly colder on the outskirts of the city and in rural areas, so be sure to gear up with appropriate winter gear.

Herb Island Light Festival | 허브아일랜드 불빛동화축제

Festival Dates: November 1st, 2023 – March 31st, 2024

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.

christmas in seoul | herb island lighting festival

All the sparkling lights at Herb Island in Pocheon.

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.

ULTIMATE WINTER DAY IN POCHEON |  Want to feel some real snowy, winter in Korea vibes? Then Pocheon is the place to go! This excellent day tour takes you to the top of frozen Sanjeong Lake AND the Herb Island Lighting Festival. Check full details here.

Simmons Terrace Illumination | 시몬스 테라스 일루미네이션

Festival Dates: November 3rd – December 31st, 2023

Address: 988 Simmons Terrace, Moga-myeon, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 이천시 모가면 사실로 988 시몬스 테라스

There’s a serious Christmas mood at Simmons Terrace, with thousands of sparkling lights, and ornaments lighting up the night sky. Lights are on pretty much all day, but you’ll want to time your visit for after-dark for the best experience.

It closes at 9PM on Friday and Saturday, and ends at 8PM, the rest of the time.

christmas in korea | simmons terrace

Christmas trees galore at Simmons Terrace © boim_mom

Simmons Terrace is located in Icheon, about 40-km south of Seoul. It’s also really close to Termeden Resort – a German style spa and sauna with both indoor and outdoor hot springs, so you could make a whole day trip out of it, if you wanted.

GOOD TO KNOW |  Icheon is known for a couple of things in Korea – some of the country’s best rice, and a lovely Ceramics Village, where you can try a pottery making experience (no reservation needed – just walk around and find one you like).

Dalahast Christmas Garden | 달라호스 크리스마스 가든

Festival dates: November 17th , 2023 – January 31st, 2024

Address: 699, Seohaean-ro, Siheung-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기 시흥시 서해안로 699

Outlet shopping and Christmas in Korea vibes meet at the Dalahast Christmas Garden at Siheung Premium Outlets. There’s a Christmas market (until December 25th ONLY), carousel, mini-train, and a number of festive installations for the whole family to enjoy.

Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | 아침고요수목원 오색별빛정원전

Festival dates: December 1st, 2023 – March 17th, 2024

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.

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.

Christmas Fantasy at Everland | 에버랜드

FESTIVAL DATES: TBA but December 1st, 2022 – January 1st, 2023 last year

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.

everland during christmas in seoul

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

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.

Don’t miss the newest attractions at Panda World in Everland Resort – the Chinese twin baby pandas, Rui Bao and Hui Bao. They’ll still be less than 6 months old by the time Christmas in Seoul rolls around, but they just might be ready to make a public appearance.

*Side note: I’m not sure what’s going on with their website currently. it seems to be going through some major update, but Everland IS open, so you can definitely still visit.

EVERLAND SHUTTLE BUS and DAY TRIP PACKAGES  |  It’s possible to use public transit to get to Everland, but a much better option, especially in the cold weather is to book either a round-trip shuttle bus to Everland, or all-inclusive package.

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.

christmas in seoul | christmas market

There are various Christmas markets not just in Seoul, but all over Korea.

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.

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 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.

Expats in Seoul NEED Christmas dinner.

  • Hemlagat | December 4th – 18th, 45,000 won pp
  • Maison Loup Blanc | December 23rd and 25th, 140,000 – 170,000 won for 2 people
  • Hearth | December 23rd – 25th, 85,000 won pp
  • Grand Hilton Seoul | December 23rd – 25th, 100,000 won pp
  • Four Seasons, the Market Kitchen | December 24th & 25th, 75,000 pp (brunch) – 118,000 won pp (dinner)
  • Brasserie Seogyo | December 24th – 25th, 75,000 – 85,000 won pp
  • Emilio Cibo & Vino | December 24th, 120,000 won pp
  • Ciuri Ciuri | December 25th, 55,000 won pp
  • Craic House | December 25th, 2pm & 6PM, 55,000 won pp
  • Christmas Lunch at Braai Republic | December 25th, 12 – 4PM, 65,000 won pp

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Christmas in Seoul: Essential Info and FAQs

Is Christmas celebrated in Korea? Christmas is a national holiday in Korea, but it isn't celebrated in quite the same way as in the Western World. It's more a romantic holiday for couples than a big family-oriented event.
What do Korean's call Santa Claus? In Korea, Santa Claus wears a red or blue suit, and is referred to as 산타 클로스 (Santa Kullosu) or 산타 할아버지 (Santa Grandfather).
What do you give Koreans for Christmas? Since Christmas in Seoul is more of a couples holiday, it's common to give and receive romantic or personal gifts like jewelry, clothing, accessories, and cosmetics.
How do they celebrate Christmas in Seoul? In Seoul for Christmas, people gather with friends, not family, eat Christmas cake, and visit holiday and lighting festivals together. It's also common to book a holiday staycation at a luxury hotel or share an expensive meal at a restaurant. Some people also attend Christmas Mass.

So THAT’S how you celebrate Christmas in Seoul? What’s at the top of your list?


  • Seb

    November 26, 2023

    Hi Shelley, do you have any experience in Tokyo vs Seoul at Christmas? We’re planning a last minute trip and stuck on where to go. Thanks!!

  • 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!

  • 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!


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