With a second festival season sadly disrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a quick run-down of what Jeju islanders celebrate in the month of March and beyond.
So far in 2021 we have seen a few online or limited in-person festival programs, but nothing like those pre-COVID. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be able to return to a time when people came from all over the country (and the region) to attend Jeju’s outdoor extravaganzas.
If you are planning a trip to Jeju Island in the future (and we hope you are!), please refer to the links provided below. And if you have more questions, the Jeju Tourist Information Center can help you in real-time (daily 9AM to 6PM, KST).
1. Jeju Fire Festival (this year it was mainly streamed online and with limited attendance by reservation only)
Jeju’s most dramatic festival comes at the start of spring when one of the island’s volcanic hills is set alight to welcome the coming season. If you are looking for a place to take unique pictures, this is the spot. The festival comes from the traditional practice of Jeju farmers setting their fields alight at the end of winter to remove vermin and renew vegetation so the pastures could later be used to rear cattle and horses. Starting in the morning, there is plenty to do before the burning of the hill. You can watch performances, participate in traditional activities, or simply grab some Jeju-style food and drinks and enjoy the atmosphere. The festival takes place at Saebyeol Oreum on the west of the island, around a 40-minute drive from the city. However, the roads can get busy, so there is usually a shuttle bus to take participants from the bus terminal to the event.
2. Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival (cancelled again this year)
Korea is famed for its cherry blossom and Jeju is no exception. The Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival occurs at various spots around the island when the flowers are at the height of their bloom. Locations include Jeonnong-ro in Jeju City, the entrance to Jeju National University, and Jangjeon-ri in Aewol-eup. At the festival, visitors walk through streets lined with cherry blossom trees. There are also plenty of spots where you can grab some Korean food and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
3. Seogwipo Canola Flower International Walking Festival (this year to be held April 10-18; limited to pre-registration, if current conditions persist, then only groups of 5 or less will be permitted. Note: The event is longer this year to help reduce the concentration of participants and thereby improve COVID-19 safety.)
One of the three most popular spring festivals, the Seogwipo International Seogwipo Yuchae (Canola) Flower International Walking Festival is held in Jeju Island’s Jungmun Tourist Complex, usually in mid-March. It attracts people from all over Korea and Asia to come to the south of the island who experience the region’s pleasant walking trails and their canola blossoms.
4. The Gapado Green Barley Festival (cancelled again this year, though visitors are free to go to the island on their own)
This month-long Jeju spring festival, held in the green fields of barley on Gapado Island, usually starts at the very end of March. This remote spot about a 20-minute ferry trip from Moseulpo Port is sparsely populated, mostly by those who work in the fishing industry, but there are some who cultivate crops for a living. By April and May, the entire island is filled with green waves of barley. The barley fields take up about 600,000㎡ of the island. Most of the green barley grown in Gapado Island are native species of Jeju called “hyangmaek.” They are taller than regular barley, which is why the green waves in the barley fields of Gapado Island move more dynamically with the wind.
Please note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling to Jeju is problematic. In the meantime, we are highlighting some of the island’s attractions. We sincerely hope you will visit Jeju once it is safe to do so.
• For all your Jeju travel and safety information: www.visitjeju.net