To really appreciate this fire-breathing bird beast in all its glory, you should watch the video
Festival season continues with another fest: Lantern Festival!
I have been excited about this festival ever since hearing about it. Who doesn’t love tiny dots of light strung across the night’s sky? Not me. The lotus lantern festival kicks off a month of celebration for Buddha’s birthday and includes lantern festivals, writing wishes on lanterns and releasing them into the sky, and the actual birthday itself which occurs on the 8th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar, or for this year, May 25.
The first challenge was figuring out the location of the festival. Over the course of the past couple of weeks we saw lanterns and banners strung up and platforms being welded together near the river. The one local blog in English mentioned it would take place between X and Y bridge — “X” and “Y” standing for Korean words I couldn’t figure out. I finally found these bridges on a map, zoomed in, and realized — OH! The festival would be taking place along the river right beside our house, just one bridge (10 min walking distance) away!
Our first venture to the festival happened on Saturday evening about 30 minutes before the festival ended for the day. We hurried across the street and walked along the river following the glowing orbs of light and the sounds of Korean music playing loudly on the huge festival stage. I grew even more excited.
We weren’t really sure what to expect but I don’t think I expected so many lights — floating lights shaped like ships, Buddhas, tigers, historical figures that I didn’t recognize, flowers, apples, and warrior figures representing the signs of the zodiac. There were two wobbly floating bridges, one covered with an arch of colorful paper lanterns and the other lined with glowing pink lotus flowers. Rows and rows of strung up paper lanterns spanned and danced across the river. There were children’s games, elaborate arches for taking photos under/in front of, food vendors, shop vendors, glow in the dark everything, booths for making your own lantern or floating paper lotus, and most amazing of all: mechanized dragons and a fire breathing bird.
We actually went to the Lantern Festival twice — once because we weren’t sure what to expect and the second time because we just wanted to enjoy it again as a date night. We went earlier the second time, ate street vendor food (mini waffles stuffed with sweet red bean paste and a corn dog unexpectedly coated in sugar…), bought a small hanging Buddhism bell adorned with a pig, walked across the floating bridges a few more times, watched the ever so mesmerizing fire-breathing bird creature, and soaked in all the night magic one last time.