Are you as ready to say good-bye to 2020 as I am?
If you’re celebrating the New Year in Seoul, you’re (usually) in luck… because there’s an incredible variety of things to do to welcome in a new year with a bang. Read on to discover the best parties, performances and events to attend in Seoul to countdown to 2021.
*Please stay safe and confirm anything you want to do -a lmost everything is cancelled due to Korea’s current social distancing measures.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Celebrating the New Year in Seoul
- 2 Where to Countdown in Seoul
- 3 Parties to Ring in the New Year in Seoul
- 4 Watch the Sunrise on New Years Day in Korea
- 5 New Year in Seoul | Essential Info
Celebrating the New Year in Seoul
Seollal is arguably the more important new year celebration in Korea, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t head out in force to celebrate the transition from one calendar year to another.
From fireworks to sunrise festivals, there’s a ton of different ways to welcome the New Year in Seoul. So whether your vibe is a quiet night with friends, a huge party, or time spent with the family, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- where to countdown in Seoul
- where to see fireworks
- the best places to watch the first sunrise of the year
- how to get around on New Year Eve in Seoul
- what to wear to be comfortable
- the best neighbourhoods to book hotels for Seoul New Year’s Eve
Where to Countdown in Seoul
As midnight approaches, New Year’s Eve countdowns will be happening all over the city. Here’s some suggestions for where to countdown in Seoul.
Bosingak Bell-Ringing Ceremony (보신각타종행사)
If you want to ring in the new year (literally), in the most traditional of ways, head over to Jongno and listen to the Bosingak Bell being rung 33 times by 16 different people, including the Mayor of Seoul. It symbolizes prosperity and good luck for everyone.
The ceremony starts at 11PM and ends around 1:30AM. Roughly 100,000 people head to Bosingak for this New Year in Seoul event, so be prepared for some crowds, getting there and back. If you prefer to avoid the masses, this ceremony is also televised, so you can watch from the comfort of your home or hotel room.
Directions: Jonggak Station on Line 4, Exit 1
Countdown Seoul 2020
Every year, there’s a huge K-pop concert and party at Times Square in Yeongdeungpo. This year, you can countdown to 2020 with performers Simon Dominic, Gray, Giriboy, Kid Milli, Sik-K, Haon and PH-1. Check tickets here.
Lotte World Tower Fireworks
There’s an incredible display of fireworks off the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, to mark the coming of the New Year in Seoul. This is the tallest building in Korea, with 123 stories, and it’s truly a sight to behold. Make no mistake about it. This will be dazzling.
Directions: Jamsil subway on Line 2, Exit 1 or 2
COEX Mall Fireworks
2020 ends with a bang at Coex Mall, with a countdown to 2021 and fireworks to mark the New Year in Seoul. Head there earlier in the day to enjoy the Coex Winter Festival. Events begin at noon and include the “Eat the Seoul” food truck market, daily musical performances on the DaOn Stage, and an ice skating rink at K-Pop Square.
Directions: Samseong Station on Line 2, Exit 6 OR Bongeunsa Station on Line 9, Exit 7
Parties to Ring in the New Year in Seoul
Seoul is known for having an incredible nightlife, so New Years Eve will be truly extraordinary. If your idea of celebrating equals DJs, dancing, parties and music, check out these events happening for the new year in Seoul.
2021 Moulin Rouge New Year in Seoul Countdown Party
Head to the 5 star Imperial Palace Hotel, for a Moulin Rouge themed countdown party in the centre of Gangnam. Dress in your most fabulous Moulin Rouge themed outfit and prepare for a sensational night of DJs, live performances, dancing, and prizes, with partiers from all over the world. Non-stop wine, champagne, and finger food are included for everyone from 9PM to 1AM!
I recommend booking a hotel near the event, so you don’t have to worry about getting home afterwards. It’s chaotic out there every night, so New Years Eve will be next level insane. The following hotels are all walking distance or a short cab ride away.
> For the most ease, reserve at the party venue, Imperial Palace Seoul
> If you’re on a budget: Kimchee Gangnam Guesthouse
> Mid-range with breakfast included: Patio 7
Get to the party by 9PM and enjoy unlimited cocktails until 10PM, along with non-stop wine and champagne until 1AM! Celebrating New Year in Seoul with 3 or more people? Get extra discounts on tickets by booking in advance on Trazy.
Sky Kingdom 2020 Countdown Party at Dragon City
This New Year in Seoul Countdown Party is taking place at the King’s Vacation, on the 31st floor of Sky Kingdom in Dragon City in Yongsan. Dress to impress, and enjoy some of the best views of Seoul from the Skywalk and floor to ceiling windows.
Tickets are 50,000 won, and the party runs from 10PM – 3AM. Open bar and free valet parking are INCLUDED with your ticket purchase. There will be live performances from hip-hop rappers, Vandal & Absin, dance performances from MAV Entertainment, and a special performance from Sue Son. DJ line-up includes: DJs Choi, Emess, Daisy, Caleb and Ara. Check tickets and more details here.
STAY OVERNIGHT ON NYE
Seoul Dragon City is the largest hotel multiplex in Asia, with 1700 rooms, incredible facilities and top notch service. If you’d like to stay overnight (always a good idea on NYE), these are the hotels that make up Dragon City Seoul.
> Grand Mercure Ambassador Hotel and Residences is the first luxury serviced residence in Korea. These rooms and suites have full kitchen facilities, incredible views, and access to an indoor golf course, sauna, restaurants, lounge, and fitness centre Dog-friendly!
> Novotel Suites Ambassador Seoul offers 286 modern, upscale rooms, an executive lounge with panoramic Han River views, swimming pool, and an ideal location near Yongsan Station.
> Novotel Ambassador Seoul has a 924 square metre health facility, including pool, fitness centre, and saunas. Rooms have wonderful views of Namsan and the Han River.
> Ibis Styles Ambassador is the most affordable hotel in Dragon City, but you still have access to a Wellness Centre, the incredible Sky Kingdom Entertainment complex, and rooms that are decorated around 4 different game themes, including chess, puzzles, arcade, and billiards.
Clubs to Dance Till 2020 for New Year in Seoul
If you’re more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, you could check out any of the big clubs, lounges, or hotels in Seoul. All will be having special festivities to mark the dawn of the new decade.
Clubs to Celebrate New Years Eve in Seoul
- NYE 2020 Countdown Party at Club Octagon
- Byebye 2019, Hello 2020! at Cakeshop Seoul
- Pocket Seoul
- 2020 All Stars at Faust
- Happy New Year, 1980 at Glam Lounge and Prost
- Playground Rooftop Cafe and Bar
- NYE Masquerade Party at Hustle
- Club A.O.R Crazy Last Night
- 2019 New Year’s Eve Rock N Roll Countdown Party at Club FF
Hotels to Countdown to 2020 in Seoul
- Seoul 2020 Countdown Party at JW Marriot Hotel Seoul and the Margeaux Grill
- 2020 New Years Eve Party at Dragon Hill Lodge
- Luxury hotels like the Intercontinental Seoul COEX, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Conrad Seoul and Walkerhill are sure to have some kind of event happening for New Year Eve in Seoul. Check for rooms on Booking.com.
Watch the Sunrise on New Years Day in Korea
From December 31st to January 1st, thousands of people are standing on high mountains or lined up on a coast in the bitter cold waiting for the sun to rise. Welcoming a new year this way, is one of the most popular things to do for the New Year in Seoul because Koreans believe that wishes made while witnessing the first sunrise of the year, are more powerful.
Achasan Sunrise Festival (아차산 해맞이축제)
The Achasan Sunrise Festival is a good one to visit if you don’t want to travel too far out of Seoul. It’s easy to access using public transportation, and it takes just 15 minutes to hike up to the viewing spot.
Be warned though – this is one of the more popular places to visit for the New Year in Seoul. Last year, 40,000 visitors attended.
If Achasan is too far from you, you can check out Haneul Park or Maebongsan Mountain to make a wish for the New Year in Seoul.
Gyeongpo Sunrise Festival (경포해맞이축제)
Gyeongpo Beach on Korea’s East Coast is one of the top places to watch the first, most powerful sunrise of the year. At the festival, you can watch fireworks, visit Gyeongpodae Pavilion, and participate in various cultural festivities, before the break of dawn.
Directions: Take the KTX or a long distance bus to Gangneung, then transfer to bus #202 to Gyeongpodae.
DON’T WANT TO STRESS ABOUT TRAVEL ON NYE?
Watch the fireworks and countdown to 2020 at COEX Mall, then head to Korea’s East Coast and make a wish on the first sunrise of the year at Gyeongpo Beach. Make it stress-free with this tour that includes all transport to and from COEX and the beach.
New Year in Seoul | Essential Info
Getting around on New Year’s Eve
Seoul Metro and most bus routes end just around midnight, so figuring out how to get around on New Year Eve in Seoul is one of the biggest concerns people have… especially if you plan to celebrate right into 2020.
Fortunately, there are a few options, that don’t involve desperately chasing down high-demand taxis, in the freezing cold.
You can take the Seoul Subway until 2AM. While there hasn’t been a formal announcement about this yet, Seoul subway hours have typically been extended until around 2AM on New Years Eve.
Take an “Owl” Bus
Owl bus routes run after midnight. Fares are typically double what they are during the daytime. During New Year Eve in Seoul, 4 additional Owl routes are being added. They’ll run until 3:30AM and connect with other typical night bus routes. Find more info here.
What to wear on New Years Eve in Seoul
If you plan to be outside for any length of time, be sure to bundle up. Seoul’s weather has a way of sneaking up on you. It feels okay at first, but once it seeps into your bones, getting warm is pretty much impossible. It’s intensely cold in Korea during winter, especially after the sun goes down.
I recommend thermals or heattechs, hot packs in your pockets, warm gloves, thick socks, hat or earmuffs, and a parka of some kind. If it’s a windy evening, you can also consider a scarf or mask to cover your face. (You can pick facemasks up in any convenience store or pharmacy). Essentially, you should try to cover as much of your exposed skin as possible, when you’re outside.