Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival 2013 at night

Jinju Lantern Festival night 12

The Jinju Lantern Festival is pretty during the day, but it really comes alive and is very beautiful at night when all the lanterns are lit up all along the river.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 1

I relaxed along the river and watched the sunset. As the sun dropped below the horizon out of view, the salmon pink colors just washed across the sky and the river, casting a pink glow over everything. Once the sky turned dark, the lanterns and the Jinju Fortress lit up all along the river.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 11

Jinju Lantern Festival night 7

Jinju Lantern Festival night 6

Jinju Lantern Festival night 4

All that peace and quiet from earlier in the day went out the window after the sun went down. The lantern festival comes alive with beauty at night, so of course that is when the people swarm the festival.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 3

Jinju Lantern Festival night 2

Since I elected to take the train back to Seoul, the last train that connected me to Seoul that night left the station at 20:26. So that left me with about two and a half hours to enjoy the night festival. Of course factor in the time to try and get a taxi to the station, and that left me with an hour and forty-five minutes. I found myself running up against the clock enjoying the lanterns, ignoring the crowds as best as I could, taking all the pictures I could and taking in the view as much as possible.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 9

Jinju Lantern Festival night 8

Jinju Lantern Festival night 5

I finally was able to get across the river where I planned to catch my cab back to the train station. What was a quick walk across the river during the day when there was no line, became an extremely long line to get across the river at night. Of course the line was at the bridge that crossed right in the middle of the lanterns for the most beautiful view. I just had to walk a bit down the river to another bridge to get across the river in time to finish up my planned itinerary and have time to get a cab in time to not miss my train.

All the lanterns in the Jinju Fortress really came alive at night. I only saw part of the fortress at night, since I was on a tight time schedule.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 10

Jinju Lantern Festival night 15

Jinju Lantern Festival night 14

I ran out of time at the end of the evening. I probably should have taken a late bus back to Seoul so I didn’t feel rushed at the end. Of course, that would have gotten me back into Seoul well into the middle of night after the subways were shut down. So hey, I saw everything I wanted to in the evening. I just didn’t relax and take it all in. But frankly, with the sheer crush of people milling all about, I think I would have started wigging out among all those strangers if I had stayed longer.

Jinju Lantern Festival night 13

Jinju Lantern Festival night 16

If you like lanterns, I highly recommend the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival. The festival is held the first two weeks in October.

Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival 2013 at day

Jinju Lantern Festival day 12


The Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival is another festival I almost went to last year, but got lazy. But now that I only have one year left in Korea, I am compelled to do all the things I want to do before I don’t have that opportunity anymore. I absolutely love lantern festivals, and this festival is a bit different than the Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival in the spring to commemorate Buddha’s birthday.

The festival is held along the Namgang River and the Jinju Fortress (Jinjuseong) across the river. I got to the lantern festival right as it opened early in the morning. I wanted to maximize my time at the festival and not feel rushed. For the first few hours, crowds were very sparse. Which is understandable, since the lantern festival really comes to life after dark. It was very peaceful walking along the river or just sitting by the water admiring the floating lanterns.

Jinju Lantern Festival day 6


Jinju Lantern Festival 3



The lanterns are spread out on the water. The lanterns are a mixture of traditional Korean tableaus, Disney fairytale characters and international symbols, like the Statue of Liberty and the Sphinx. There are numerous floating bridges crossing the river (for a small fee of course) so you can easily get back and forth across the river for both parts of the festivals.


Jinju Lantern Festival day 11

Jinju Lantern Festival day 10

Jinju Lantern Festival day 9

Jinju Lantern Festival day 8

Jinju Lantern Festival day 7


The lantern festival is also held in conjunction with the Gacheon Arts Festival and the Jinju Silk Festival. All the festival events and activities are on the river, so you can enjoy a wide variety of activities from all festivals, like enjoying local artists’ paintings. The lantern festival has a wide variety of Korean and international food booths to eat your way through the day. Like most Korean festivals I’ve been to, there were also experiential booths to make your own lanterns, some of which you could light with candles and float in the river at night or desire wish lanterns you can hang up in the lantern tunnels.

Jinju Lantern Festival day 4

Jinju Lantern Festival day 5




The other main section of the lantern festival is held across the river at the Jinju Fortress. The fortress was first used to defend the region during the Japanese invasion Imjin Waeran in 1592/1593. The fortress is now reconstructed, and within the walls, there are a couple of temples, shrines and the Jinju National Museum. A wide variety of lanterns are set up in Korean traditional tableaus such as traditional Korean fairy tales and the Korean military forces defending the fortress.

Jinju Lantern Festival day 16

Jinju Lantern Festival day 15

Jinju Lantern Festival day 14

Jinju Lantern Festival day 13


Throughout the day on the fortress premises there were a wide variety of Korean traditional folk performances like musical dance performances and examples of Korean martial arts.

Jinju Lantern Festival day 2

Jinju Lantern Festival day 1


Jinju is very easy to reach from Seoul. There are numerous buses from Seoul’s Gangnam Express Bus Terminal to the Jinju Express Bus Terminal. I chose to take the train, just because I prefer trains if they are available. The direct KTX train from Seoul leaves several times a day for the three and a half hour trip to Jinju. Know that if you take the KTX train, the train station is south of the city center, not within walking distance. I would recommend that unless you speak Korean, it might be best to take a taxi (approximately 15 minute drive) to the city center. I originally took the bus to the festival and ended about a 2 km walk from the festival site.  The Express Bus Terminal is located about a 20 minute walk down the river from the lantern festival.