Visiting Gangwon Province in October usually means one thing: A trip to Seorak National Park. It’s no secret that watching the mountains catch fire – as the leaves turn red on the millions of maple trees that the park is home to – is an event in every Korean’s calendar. Even the national weather reports talk about how red the trees are turning, so this is surely a hot ticket.
Visiting the park during autumn is not to be missed, but if turning up to a natural attraction at the same time as everyone else sounds like hell on earth, why not schedule your visit to coincide with the Seorak Cultural Festival. Held annually in the coastal town of Sokcho, it takes place over three days and celebrates the arts and culture of the local area. This year the festival will take place from October 8 – 11.
A street parade down the main street on Friday night kicks things off with performances from schools and community groups. Festivities continue on Saturday and into Sunday with the main street closing to traffic – stalls stretch to the length of the downtown area showcasing local artists, street musicians, and crafts. There are plenty of food stalls, and the local animal shelter attends with possible pets looking for homes as well.
The main parade takes place in the late afternoon, again through the main street, with floats, dancers, and international groups celebrating all things Seorak. Concerts are usually scheduled for the evening, and the heady combination of locally-made makkeolli (막걸리) and “trot” (트로트) – old-fashioned “K-Pop” – means dancing with the locals is definitely an option.
If all that isn’t enough, try waking up and heading to Seorak National Park for the sunrise on Sunday. The park will be much quieter, thanks to the celebrations the day before.