Are you ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Korea? Like many places around the world, on New Year’s Eve there are parties galore across the country from Seoul to Busan and everywhere in between. But I think it should be noted that traditionally, January 1 is celebrated with sunrise, hurray, not the midnight kiss. These days, there is so much to do from night to morning. Whether you want to celebrate traditional Korean style or are looking for a countdown timer in Seoul or perhaps a place to watch Seoul fireworks, there is plenty to do in the New Year.
There are many ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Seoul and Korea. Whether you’re looking for a countdown or the sunrise in the morning, here’s what you can look forward to:
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How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Seoul
There is so much to do in Seoul on New Year’s Eve. Keep reading to find the best hotels to book on New Year’s Eve in Seoul, where you can watch the fireworks, and even the best places to watch the first sunrise of the year in Seoul.
Noticeable: Festivals and events are planned for January 1, 2022 but many have been canceled due to new restrictions in place. This post is an overview of what to do on New Year’s Eve, and links to this year’s events (2021-2022) are provided where possible.
Greet the new year with a percussion bell
If you ever get out of Jonggak Subway Station during your visit to Seoul, you may have noticed the traditional Bosingak Belfry (Busenjak Resonance Event). In the Joseon Dynasty, the bell used to ring when it was Seoul castle wall gates It was opened and closed every day. These days, people sign up to ring the bell daily, but pedestrians often go unnoticed in the downtown area. But on December 31, that all changed. It is the center of celebrations in downtown Seoul.
Tens of thousands of people gather outside in frigid temperatures to see the bell ring. The bell rings 33 times in the middle of the night and then fireworks fire into the sky. If you don’t feel like standing outside in the cold, you can also watch and listen to the televised scene from the comfort of your own home. (2022 Note: This year, the event will be online just as it was last year. Find more information here. Countdown from the comfort of your own home.)
Tabuk: 54 Jung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Grab some wine and charcuterie and celebrate at home
As mentioned, this year you really can’t stay away and celebrate New Year’s Eve. Restrictions are in place and things have to close before midnight. This doesn’t mean you have to go home and mess around. Vineworks offers a box of 6 sparkling wines at 30% off. Now even stock up. Order food on the shuttle At some of your favorite places to drink and relax in the comfort of your own home.
See the fireworks and the countdown
There are a number of great places to see dazzling fireworks to celebrate New Year’s Eve, usually in Seoul. (2022 Note: No information could be found on the festivities this year. They may have been canceled due to current restrictions.)
COEX hosts a huge fireworks display to celebrate the New Year every year. It’s a great screen that lights up the sky.
- Tabuk: 513 Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Where to stay: Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas Hotel And Oakwood Premier It is located outside of COEX which makes it the best places to stay nearby.
- How to get there: Take the MRT to Samseong Station or Bongeunsa Station and you’ll be able to walk straight to COEX.
- website: www.coex.co.kr/
At the Lotte Tower (Lote World Tower)
Lotte Tower, the tallest building in Korea, hosts a spectacular fireworks display twice a year, and New Year’s Eve is one of them.
- Tabuk: 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul (300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul)
- Where to stay: Signel Hotel Great place to stay in the tower. We have stayed twice. I highly recommend it.
- How to get there: Head to Jamsil station and you can walk straight to Lotte Tower and Lotte Mall.
- website: www.lwt.co.kr
It looks like the fireworks shows didn’t take place this year, but the only thing that’s great to watch is SeouLight. Head to Dongdaemun Design Plaza to see the 22-meter-high facade transformed with lights to create a surreal world of lights. The performance is shown with light and music every hour around the clock from 7:00 pm until the last show at 10:00 pm. The performance lasts 12 minutes so don’t be late. The show runs every night until January 2nd.
Lots of articles and websites say you need a reservation to perform, but we had one and we never asked for it. There is a tight section that you need to book to get in, but there are plenty of other places to stand to see the show in and around DDP.
- Tabuk: 281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Where to stay: JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul It’s a great place to stay down the road. Enjoy a night in Dongdaemun.
- How to get there: Head to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station and exit Exit 1.
- website: www.ddp.or.kr
Enjoy a party and stay
Many hotels around Seoul host elaborate parties, often including dinner and drinks. Although they probably won’t have elaborate parties this year, the hotel is a divine place to celebrate in the new year. Grab some great food and enjoy a 5 star stay. Also, if you haven’t noticed, it is very difficult to get a taxi these days, so just plan to stay the night wherever you are outside. Some of the hotels that usually host New Year’s Eve events in Seoul include: Vista Walkerhill Seoul, Park Hyatt Seoul, InterContinental Seoul COEX, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Conrad Seoul, JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, and the Westin Joseon Seoul.
Watch the sunrise from a mountaintop in Seoul
You can climb a lot of mountains … There are quite a few of them in Seoul, but one of the easiest “mountain peaks” is Sky Park. Host the Haneul Park Sunrise Festival (하늘) every year, and head to the easy walking path to watch the sunrise over the Han River, write New Year’s wishes, and catch some performances.
Tabuk: 95 Haneulgongwon-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Tips: The sunrise is usually around 7:30 in the morning so you can spend your time getting up there but note that they usually close the stairs so people don’t slip on any ice so everyone going there should walk the main roads up to higher.
dancing in the club
Clubs around the city usually host great dance parties. I’ve been out of the club scene for a while, but if I’m still in it, the best place to find a party is on Facebook. Just head over and check out the regular events. Look at the things happening in Octagon in Gangnam, NB2 in Mapo, and Cakeshop in Itaewon. This year there are unlikely to be any major parties as venues have to close by 10:00 but check out next year’s events if you’re still around.
How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Korea
Watch the first sunrise
Instead of ringing New Year’s in the middle of the night, many Koreans head up the mountains near them or to the east coast of Korea to watch the first sunrise. Koreans believe that wishes made while watching the sunrise for the first time in the year are the strongest, so if you need some good magic next year, this is probably the best way to celebrate. If you’re planning to head to the coast, look into renting a car. Renting a car is easy with Klook. Here are the best places to watch the sunrise for the first time of the year in Korea:
Gangneung is a particularly popular place for Seoul residents to escape to because it’s so easy to just navigate the train. There are two major sunrise festivals in Gangneung including: the Gyeongpo Sunrise Festival (경포) and the Jeongdongjin Sunrise Festival (정동진).
- Tabuk: Gyeongpo Sunrise Festival: 514 Changhae-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do (514 Changhae-ro (Anhyeon-dong), Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do); Jeongdongjin Sunrise Festival: Jeongdongjin2-ri, Gangneung-si, and Gangwon-do (Jeongdongjin 2-ri, Gangdong-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do)
- Where to stay: St. John’s Hotel And Skybay Gyeongpo . Hotel These are great places to stay in Gangneung.
- How to get there: Exit to Gangneung on KTX. From Seoul Station to Gangneung Station, the journey takes two hours and costs from 22,000W to 35,000W depending on which seats you choose.
Seongsan Ilchulbong, Jeju, Korea
The Seongsan Sunrise Festival (제주) is held annually and features a more inclusive festival of celebrations as it seeks to spread the natural values of Seongsan Ilchulbong Summit, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. I just stayed at a hotel here last year on vacation and the sunrise, whether it’s January 1st or not, is fantastic.
- Tabuk: 284-12 Ilchul-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (284-12 Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do)
- Residence: Phoenix Seobjikoji It is the perfect place to stay with a view of Ilchulbong or stay within walking distance of Co-Op City Seongsan . Hotel.
- How to get there: Get ready for fun. Below are options How to travel to Jeju Island.
- website: www.Sunrisefestival.kr
The Ganjeolgot Sunrise Festival (울산) is a popular sunrise spot on the east coast. There are fireworks displays, tteokguk dining, and displays for visitors. The festival begins at sunset on December 31 and is filled with all-night fun that culminates with the first light of the year.
- Tabuk: 39-2, Gangolgut 1-gil, Ulju-gun, Ulsan (39-2 Gangulgut 1-gil, Seozengmyeon, Ulju-kun, Ulsan, ROK)
- Where to stay: Find a hotel in Ulsan on Booking.com
- How to get there: Take the KTX train from Seoul to Ulsan Station. It takes just under 2.5 hours.
One of the most popular places to watch the sunrise is the Homigot Sunrise Festival (호미곶) and is the home of the famous hand that stretches out from the ocean. Being the easternmost point of the Korean Peninsula, this is the “first” place to witness the sunrise. Homigot Village means “village on a tiger’s tail” referring to the Korean Peninsula that looks like a tiger. Wouldn’t it be fun to celebrate January 1 on a tiger’s tail?
- Tabuk: 136 Haemaji-ro, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do (136 Haemaji-ro, Homigot-myeon, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do)
- Where to stay: Find a hotel in Pohang on Booking.com
- How to get there: Take the KTX train from Seoul to Pohang Station. It takes 2.5 hours.
Covid has hampered the festivities a bit this year, but I hope everyone is in for fun and ready to see what 2022 brings us! Happy New Year from Korea!