About a month ago towards the end of March 2014, I had my final opportunity to visit a winter garden night illumination. They are among my favorite winter activities in Korea. There is just something magical about being out in the cold, dark winter night surrounded by millions of bright lights. It really does feel like a fairy land in another world.
This particular garden was north of Seoul, even north of Dongduchon, which is getting fairly close to the Demilitarized Zone (at least as the crow flies). I elected to go with a tour group to the Herb Island Lighting Festival. I had looked at the possibility of visiting the garden independently, but the last bus left Herb Island only shortly after dark, and would not give me the opportunity to really enjoy the winter lighting.
So off I went with the tour group. The bus ride itself was only a little over an hour. However the line to get into the parking lot was so long, it added an extra 45 minutes to getting to the garden. We arrived as the sun was setting, but still had to wait for complete darkness set in.
The garden was effectively divided into two sections. The farther one out was more of an open field with rows of lights, along with tunnels of lights. There was also plenty of Christmas decorations, which was an interesting sight in the middle of March. The crowds started growing after it was completely dark and it required some maneuvering to get pictures without too many people in them.
Since I was with a tour group, I had a limited amount of time to enjoy the garden. Granted two hours is a lot of time to take pictures, but it is not always enough time to just sit and take it all in.
The other part of the garden was more of the sunken garden filled with even more lights. This garden was a bit more elaborate and there were numerous trees with colored cherry blossom lights.
Other parts of the garden were nets in a wide variety of colored lights covering the winter shrubs. I enjoyed the sunken garden part a bit more, because the decorations really did feel like a magical world, and reminded me the most of the Morning Calm Arboretum I visited the previous year.
It may not have been enough time to just sit back and spending hours pretending to be in the world of Avatar, but it was still plenty enjoyable to see the gorgeous, colored light gardens and send out winter in a proper fashion.