Holiday festivals can be found all over Korea in winter, but the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival is definitely one of the biggest and best. If you live in or near Seoul, this is the lighting festival you NEED to see.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | 아침고요수목원 오색별빛정원전
- 2 Visiting the Garden of Morning Calm in Winter
- 3 How to get to the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival from Seoul
The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival | 아침고요수목원 오색별빛정원전
The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival has an awe-inspiring display of glimmering lights and festive cheer. You’ll be totally wowed by the sight of tens of thousands of twinkling bulbs brightening the night sky, as far as the eye can see.
I am not exaggerating in the least. There are literally 30,000 bulbs, illuminating over 30,000㎡ of the Garden.
Anyone from couples to solo travellers to families with small children can enjoy this event. There are separate areas to explore, with displays and exhibitions decorated around the themes of animals, love, flowers, and more.
Look out for illuminated arch tunnels, a glowing horse and carriage, and my personal favourite – a swing in front of a twinkling heart. There is no shortage of interactive spots to shoot perfect pics for the season.
GOTTA DO IT? | If this is something you know you HAVE to do this winter, a day tour is the best and most convenient way to do it… especially if you don’t have a car. Customize an all-inclusive tour, including round-trip transport between Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival here.
When is the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival?
Festival Dates: December 4th, 2020 – March 14th, 2021
The Lighting Festival will take place at the Garden of Morning Calm in winter. During the festival, opening hours are extended late into the night, so visitors can fully enjoy the spectacle after dark. You could easily spend at least 2 hours, happily wandering the grounds.
Typically, the lights come on just before sunset, and stay on until 9PM on weekdays and 11PM on Saturdays.
Visiting the Garden of Morning Calm in Winter
If you want to see snow during winter, the Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm is a good place to try. After all, what could be more romantic than white snow-covered mountains, aglow with gleaming lights. It’s enough to make you think you’re in your own private life-sized snowglobe.
The best time to see the snowy landscapes of your dreams is early to mid-February. This is when weather stations in Gapyeong report the largest amounts of snow on the ground in the region. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go!
What to Wear to the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival
In the winter months of December, January and February, temperatures at the Garden of Morning Calm range from -11 to 4°C. In other words, it’s freezing cold… especially after the sun goes down.
Since the Lighting Festival is best enjoyed at night (duh), it’s important to dress appropriately so you can appreciate it comfortably. There’s really not much indoor space at the Garden where you can get a respite from the frigid air.
A parka, hat, and gloves are minimum requirements. If you’re someone that gets cold easily, warm boots, thick socks, a scarf, and Heat-Tech layering or similar might be helpful. Disposable hot packs in your pockets will do wonders at keeping your hands warm. You can pick these up for a couple thousand won in any convenience store or pharmacy.
How to get to the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival from Seoul
The Garden of Morning Calm is approximately 65-km northeast of Seoul in Gapyeong-gun. It’s part of Gyeonggi-do Province. If you have a car, you can drive there yourself in around an hour, depending on traffic. There’s parking available on site, though it does get quite busy during the festival.
Book an all-inclusive tour
In combination with Nami Island and the Gangchon Rail Bike, the Garden of Morning Calm is one of the most popular day trips from Seoul. With good reason. I’ve visited these destinations multiple times, and they are totally worth a visit.
It makes sense to visit all 3 locations on the same day, because they are geographically close to each other, but not that close to Seoul.
Many tours also offer a same day stop at Petite France if you wish, but in my opinion, doing all 4 of these things on a single day is a bit too much. You’ll just end up rushing around and not really enjoying anything. It’s better to just pick 2 or 3 places at most.
If you don’t have a car, you’ll have to rely on expensive taxis, local buses, or the Gapyeong City Tour bus to get between locations. It’s time-consuming and inefficient to say the least. For example, driving directly between Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm takes around 30 minutes. Using public transit, you’re looking at a 2 hour journey with 3 separate transfers. Minimum.
Booking an all-inclusive tour that includes the convenience of round-trip transport from Seoul and between all locations + admission fees is absolutely the best way to visit the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival and other attractions in the area.
TIP | Be sure to check the winter departure times for the various destinations when deciding which locations to add to your day. Itineraries with 3 stops only allow about 90 minutes at the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival, while those with 2 stops start later in the day, but allow a full 2 hours at the Lighting Festival. Customize an all-inclusive tour, including round-trip transport between locations here.
Using Public Transport
If you ONLY want to visit the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival, and nothing else, your only option is to get there using public transit.
Keep in mind that ANY public transit route from Seoul to the Garden of Morning Calm requires multiple transfers and quite a bit of time. Check and double check your final destinations, because it can be super confusing, with many stations having the exact same name, but being in different locations (like Cheongpyeong subway station vs Cheongpyeong ITX train station vs Cheongpyeong bus terminal).
Subway: Take the Gyeongchun Line subway from Seoul to Cheongpyeong Station in Gapyeong → Take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, a taxi, or a local bus to the Garden of Morning Calm.
By Train: Take an ITX train from Yongsan or Cheongnyangni ITX Station in Seoul to Cheongpyeong ITX Station in Gapyeong → Get on a Gapyeong City Tour Bus, use a taxi, or get on a local bus.
Bus: Take an express bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal near Gangbyeon Station on Seoul subway Line 2 to Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal in Gapyeong → Take a local bus or taxi to the Garden of Morning Calm. Alternatively, transfer to Cheongpyeong Station to catch the Gapyeong City Tour Bus.
TOUR IN STYLE | If you’re someone who likes to ride in extra comfort (and who doesn’t), book this premium tour to visit Nami Island, Petite France and the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival. It includes first class bus service between all locations + admission tickets to all destinations. Snag a premium first class bus tour to Nami Island, Petite France and the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival here.
Using the ITX-Cheongchun Train
Via Metro Seoul Subway
On a Long Distance or Express Bus
You’re all set now with everything you need to know to visit the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival this winter. Who’s going?