Snow festivals in Korea heavily depend on the weather and it seems that the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival will offer a full chance to enjoy white snow before the “kkotsaem chuwi,” or a cold snap in the flowering season, comes late February.
Taking place for nine days from Saturday through Feb. 20 at Hoenggye-ri in Daegwallyeong-myeon in PyeongChang County, the festival will feature a variety of winter activities, exhibitions, events and Korean traditional experience programs in four event areas.
Fun winter activities
The Daegwallyeong Snow Festival may well be the most efficient way to enjoy various winter activities in one place.
There will be snow motorbike rides, snow rafting, snow trains, bobsleighs, snow carts, ice sleighs and snow sleighs, with ticket prices for activities ranging from 3,000 won to 12,000 won per adult.
People enjoy the snow at the 17th Daegwallyeong Snow Festival, 2009. (Daegwallyeong Snow Festival Committee)
For those seeking a more intense event, the festival holds a four-wheel drive car race with participation costing 50,000 won per person.
The activity programs are to take place at the No. 2 and No. 4 areas throughout the festival.
To learn about Korean folk games, foods and arts, visit the No.1 area where many snow sculptures and ice works are to be exhibited.
For 5,000 won each, visitors can learn how to make a bamboo bow, a traditional Korean kite and a Korean mask from professionals.
Chances to make “yeot,” or Korean traditional sticky candy, tofu and rice cake dough will be provided free of charge.
On the first day of the festival, organizer Daegwallyeing Snow Festival Committee is to stage a demonstration of “Hwangbyeongsan Hunting” in which ancient Korean people used to hunt wild animals, barbecue them and share them with their community.
“Such hunting practice is one of a kind in Korea. It will be very fun,” said Ahn Jun-mo, deputy secretary-general of the Daegwallyeing Snow Festival Committee.
“If visitors feel hungry, I recommend they participate in baking potatoes,” he added.
Giant snowman, ice sculptures and snow tunnel
The organizer said it will unveil a 15-meter-high snowman and numerous ice and snow installations by expert sculptors in the No. 1 event area.
The works will include rabbits, the Chinese Zodiac animal of 2011, dragons, bears, animation characters and igloos to entertain children.
All the ice sculptures will be illuminated to help visitors enjoy them into the winter night, organizers said.
While the International Olympic Committee members are staying in Korea from Feb. 15 to Feb. 20 to inspect PyeongChang for its 2018 Winter Olyimpics bid, the snow festival will attract more attention to PyeongChang by installing a 70-meter-long snow sculpture featuring the initials of the title of PyeongChang’s Olympic bid and the five Olympic rings.
Sculptors install a snow sculpture featuring the initials of PyeongChang’s 2018 Olympic bid and the five Olympic rings on Friday in PyeongChang Country, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)
Another big exhibition is a 100 meter-long snow tunnel, which was supposed to challenge the World Guinness record as the world’s longest tunnel. Due to heavy snow during the winter, however, the mid-section of the tunnel collapsed and failed to break the record.
However, will visitors can still stroll freely inside the tunnel. There, they will find a small street decorated with candle-lit lamps, photo exhibitions and have the chance to make lamps with hanji, or mulberry paper.
Show off your skills, nerve
The festival also hosts two competition events ― a singing contest and a topless marathon.
The Snow K-pop competition will be held at the No. 1 area on Feb. 13 and the Topless Marathon Competition will take place at 2 p.m. on Feb. 19.
“Participants should take their tops off although female participants should wear minimal tops,” Ahn said.
How to get there, what to prepare
The website of the committee, at www.snowfestival.net, offers links to purchase a shuttle bus round-trip ticket from Seoul and Gyeonggi Province to the event site and the ticket includes the traveler insurance.
Currently sold through three online markets ― Auction, 11st and Gmarket, tickets are 23,000 won per person.
The departure time vairies from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. depending on the departure place, but the arrival time is the same ― 11 a.m. at the festival site. The shuttle leaves Daegwallyeong at 4 p.m. For more information on the shuttle bus, call (02) 735-8988.
By train, head to Wonju station and take a bus or a taxi to get to the Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal. Take an intercity bus bound for Gangneung and get off at Hoenggye Bus Terminal. Walk for 10 minutes and you will get to the festival site.
Prepare warm clothes as well, unless you want to shiver in the coldness of the snow. Ski or snowboard gloves, ear muffs and beanies are a must, as well as inner wear, waterproof pants and jumpers.
An extra pair of socks, a towel and a knee blanket would also help keep off the cold.
Admission is free but there are fees for participating in activities.
For more information about the festival, call (033) 336-6112 or visit www.snowfestival.net.
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)