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starfield library during christmas in seoul

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.

starfield library during christmas in seoul
Check out this gorgeous Christmas installation at the Starfield Library in Seoul. Photo by Stephanie Vollmer.

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

*This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

christmas tree in seoul
Christmas trees are easy to find all over Seoul. Photo by traveloriented/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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 in Korea at Cheonggyecheon
Check out the Seoul Christmas Festival at Cheonggyecheon Stream, Photo by traveloriented/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

PRO 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.


Click to get discounted tickets to Lotte World

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.

Everland's Golden Illumination is a great place to go during Christmas in Seoul. Photo by phploveme@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Everland's Golden Illumination is a great place to go during Christmas in Seoul. Photo by phploveme@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

PRO TIP

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!


Click here to get discounted tickets to Everland

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.

myeongdong at christmas in seoul
Myeongdong at Christmas is full of sparkling lights. Photo by koreanet/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

> Looking for somewhere to stay in Myeongdong? Read our recommendations for the best 15 hotels in Myeongdong, at every budget.

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.

boseong lighting festival korea
Winter in Korea is really, really cold... especially at night. Bundle up!

Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival

Festival Dates: December 9th, 2019 – March 31st, 2020

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.

christmas in korea, garden of morning calm
The Garden of Morning Calm lighting festival. Photo by traveloriented/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.


Click to book a trip to the morning of calm festival

> 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.

Herb Island lighting festival
Pocheon Herb Island. Photo by traveloriented/@Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

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

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!

PRO 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.


Click here to get discounted tickets to Seoul Land

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.

Are you dreaming of roasted turkey for Christmas dinner?

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.

PRO TIP

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

Hearth in Gangnam is offering Christmas dinner from December 23 – 25th, for 55,000 won per person.

Photo: Hearth Seoul

Buukstage

If you prefer roast lamb, instead of turkey, head to Buukstage in Itaewon on December 23 to 24th, for Christmas dinner.

Photo: buukstage.com

Wink Kitchen and Taphouse

WinK Kitchen and Taphouse near Seoul National University offers Christmas dinner from December 20th – December 25th.

Photo credit: WinK Kitchen & Taphouse

Route 66

Route 66 in Itaewon is celebrating Christmas in Seoul with an all you can eat dinner buffet, starting at 4PM on Christmas day.

Photo: Route 66

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Comments:

  • 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...
  • 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...

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