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Winter festivals delight in Gangwon Province

Want some fresh air and winter fun? Embrace the cold snap and enjoy some of the best winter festivals in Gangwon Province. Gangwon-do offers a host of fun winter festivals where you can experience outdoor activities like ice fishing and sledding along with calmer moments appreciating the snow and scenery.

Here are some tips to get the most from these winter festivals.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival

Held every January in the far northern reaches of Gangwon-do, the festival celebrates the mountain trout that swim just below the surface of the icy rivers and ponds of Hwacheon County.

One of Korea’s biggest winter festivals, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo attracted over 1.3 million domestic and overseas guests last year. It was designated a “Superior Festival of Culture & Tourism in Korea” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2010.

Visitors at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival show off their catch (Photo courtesy of the Hwacheon County Office)

The ninth Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival will take place from Jan. 8-30, under the slogan “Unfrozen Hearts, Unforgettable Memories.” As in years past, plenty of winter fun awaits, including ice fishing using both lures and bare hands, ice sledding, cross country skiing, ice football and ice hockey.

Winter fun continues even after sunset. Thousands of trout-shaped lanterns have been created to illuminate the streets of Hwacheon. The “World Winter City Square” will present beautiful snow sculptures, a 40 meter-long LED tunnel and a building made from ice. At “Asia Ice Lights Square,” visitors can enjoy a display of ice lights and castles from Harbin, China.

(left) Trout-shaped lights illuminate the streets of Hwacheon (center) Snow castles (right) Asia Ice Lights Square (Photo courtesy of the Hwacheon County Office)

During the festival, the main tourist information center will be open 24-hours a day and English-speaking guides will be on staff to help out. Discount tickets are available for foreign visitors.

For more information, call +82 33 1330 (Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese) or visit the official website at: (Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese)

For more information on accommodation, click here: (Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese)

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

The Pyeongchang Trout Festival in Pyeongchang County also helps keep locals and visitors amused during the cold winter months. This year’s festival begins on December 23, and will provide a variety of programs including ice and lure fishing, snow rafting, bobsleigh rides and ice carts.  The festival wraps up on February 6.

The highlight of the festival is ice fishing for trout.  For 10,000 won, visitors can rent equipment to fish for mountain trout, and the truly adventurous can try fishing with their bare hands. Afterwards, local restaurants are happy to prepare the catch on site for the freshest imaginable fish.  Reservations in advance are highly recommended.

Every Monday and Tuesday at 11 a.m., 50 “early bird” visitors can sample raw mountain trout for free, using sample tickets distributed on site.

Children bursting with joy while enjoying various winter outdoor activities at the Pyeongchang Trout Festival (Photo courtesy of the Jinbu Festival Committee)

Visitors can also try traditional Korean winter folk games like snow sledding, kite flying and other outdoor activities. A full ticket that covers both ice fishing and outdoor activities costs 20,000 won.

Visitors to Pyeongchang for the festival can also take advantage of the area’s superior ski and snowboard opportunities. Those looking to experience scenic beauty and historical sites can visit nearby Woljeong Temple at Odae Mountain or the city of Gangneung for its beautiful seaside location.

To get to the festival, take a bus to Jinbu Bus Terminal from East Seoul Terminal. The festival grounds are ten minutes from the terminal on foot. For more information, please visit the official website at: (Korean only)

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer

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