Seoul Calendar and Events
During the Lunar New Year (Seollal), in January or February, you can expect not only Seoul but the whole country to grind to a halt. Its probably a good opportunity to head off to the Korean Folk Village (near Suwon) or the Seoul Nori Madang to view the special performances of traditional dances or wedding services.
The Buddhas Birthday, or Feast of the Lanterns, is on the eighth day of the fourth moon, and falls around April or May in the Western calendar. Theres an evening lantern parade from Yeouido Plaza to Chogyesa Temple, starting around 6.30pm.
Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving, is also known as the Harvest Moon Festival, and falls on the 15th day of the eighth month, around September or October. It is the most important of South Koreas lunar holidays, and Seoul becomes almost deserted as most city dwellers head back to their family homes. They prepare offerings for the ancestral tombs and prepare for an evening of gazing at the moon.
Two other festivals worth looking for are the Seokchonje, staged twice a year in the Confucius Shrine at Sungkyunkwan University in northern Seoul. A traditional court orchestra performs and full costume rituals are enacted. Similarly, full costume parades are held at the Jyongmyo Daeje, the Royal Shrine Rites in the Jangmyo Shrine on the first Sunday in May.