The holidays are just a week 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.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Seoul
- where to find Christmas festivals in Seoul
- the best lighting festivals to attend on a day trip from Seoul, and how to get there
- where to eat the Christmas dinner you’re dreaming of
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Christmas in Seoul: What to Expect
- 2 How to Celebrate Christmas in Seoul
- 3 The Best Lighting Festivals in or near Seoul
- 4 Christmas in Seoul for Families
- 5 Where to eat Christmas Dinner 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. It sure looks like the Christmas 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. In Seoul, Christmas 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.
Seoul Christmas Festival (서울 크리스마스 페스티벌)
Festival Dates: December 13th, 2019 – January 1st, 2020
Check out the 5th 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.
Christmas Miracle at Lotte World
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 winter. Until December 31st, 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.
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.
Christmas at Everland
Everland is a huge theme park in Yongin, near Seoul. Visit during Christmas 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.
To stay at Everland as late as possible, reserve the night bus on Trazy. It leaves the amusement park 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 40% off!
Buy Value, Live Together Christmas Market
Festival dates: December 21st – 29th, 2019
For 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, look for a huge gathering of Santas, and of course… don’t forget to watch performances by K-pop idols, including Mamamoo and Jeon Ji-yoon.
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.
Even if you’re a non-believer, Myeongdong Cathedral is worth a look. Be sure to have a wander around Myeongdong district 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.
The Best Lighting Festivals in or near Seoul
During winter in Korea, the whole country is sparkling with incredible lighting festivals. You’ll be totally awed by the extravagance of these events, and they’re 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.
Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival
The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival is the premier lighting festival in the country. It’s the largest and most popular event to attend, 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.
RECOMMENDED WINTER TOUR
Visit Vivaldi Park, one of the biggest snow parks in Seoul, pick delicious Korean strawberries by hand, then cap off your day with an awe-inspiring visit to the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival. Includes round-trip transportation, tour guide, admission fees, snow sled, round trip gondola ride ticket for Snowy Land, and 400 grams of juicy strawberries to take with you.
> If you prefer to visit the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival and Nami Island instead, you can take a later departure from Seoul that includes round-trip transport, ferry tickets to Nami Island, and admission into both locations. BOOK YOUR DAY TOUR HERE.
Pocheon Herb Island Lighting Festival
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.
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.
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.
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.
> Click here to get discounted tickets to Onemount Snow Park in advance here.
Luna Happy Holidays at Seoul Land Theme Park
Festival Dates: November 15th, 2019 – March 1st, 2020
During winter, 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, and you won’t have to wait nearly as long as you would at Lotte World or Everland.
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!
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.
Where to eat Christmas Dinner 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.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best dinners to be had during Christmas in Seoul.
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.
If you want to Christmas in Seoul in style, chi-chi hotels offer a huge range of different Christmas dinners, parties and room packages. It’s best to reserve these as soon as possible. Couples go all out for the holiday season and spots are limited!
> On December 24th, you can enjoy the Salon de Noel at the Intercontinental Seoul Coex. Jazz performances, wreath making and a 7 course Christmas Dinner with wine can be yours for 180,000 won per person. If you’d like to also stay overnight, the Salon de Noel Room Package includes an overnight stay, as well as entrance into the Christmas party, but there are limited rooms. Call the hotel to book the Salon de Noel Room Package. If you simply want a room, you can check prices at the Intercontinental Seoul Coex here.
> If you can’t get the thought of roast turkey out of your mind, check out the special Christmas lunch or dinner buffet offered at the Novotel Ambassador in Dongdaemun. This ONLY runs from December 21st – 25th, and includes roast turkey or grilled lobster, depending on the date you book. Make sure you reserve in advance by clicking here.
Hearth in Gangnam is offering Christmas dinner from December 23 – 25th, for 55,000 won per person.
If you prefer roast lamb, instead of turkey, head to Buukstage in Itaewon on December 23 to 24th, for Christmas dinner.
Wink Kitchen and Taphouse
WinK Kitchen and Taphouse near Seoul National University offers Christmas dinner from December 20th – December 25th.
Route 66 in Itaewon is celebrating Christmas in Seoul with an all you can eat dinner buffet, starting at 4PM on Christmas day.