[Weekender] Light up the holiday nights: 4 must-visits to get in the Christmas mood

By Park Ju-young
  • Published : Dec 22, 2017 - 15:44
  • Updated : Dec 22, 2017 - 17:25

As 2017 nears its end, the city of Seoul comes alive with a mesmerizing blend of holiday lights and music echoing through the streets. For those still undecided on where to go on Christmas day, following is a list of four places one won‘t regret visiting.

Shinsegae Department Store, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu

Every November, the now-87-year-old Shinsegae Department store building transforms into a winter wonderland, thrilling visitors. The magical musical light show captures the hearts of locals and tourists alike in Myeong-dong, making a name for itself as one of the best Christmas displays in the country. 

Exterior of Shinsegae Department Store (Shinsegae)
Exterior of Shinsegae Department Store (Shinsegae)

On the night of Dec. 16, about 20 pedestrians passing by the building were seen holding their phones and recording the show to capture the magnificent moment.

Centered on a 20-meter high Christmas tree, over 310,000 lights shine to the accompaniment of festive tunes. The colors and patterns of the lights change with the songs.

Exterior of Shinsegae Department Store (Shinsegae)

To offer the light show each year, about 10 employees of Shinsegae’s visual merchandising team start to establish the concept of design from March, the company said. Once the concept is confirmed, it takes three to four weeks to install the lights and tree at the building.

The show starts at 5 p.m. and goes to midnight throughout the week. The Christmas-themed light show will be showcased until Dec. 25, while the display will change to a New Year’s theme from Dec. 26 to Jan. 31.

Cheonggye Plaza, Seorin-dong, Jongno-gu

The streets beside the stream Cheonggyecheon, which stretches across central Seoul, are now decked out with dazzling illuminations and bright lights.
“Media-facade” ball lightings at “Seoul Christmas Festival 2017“ (Park Ju-young / The Korea Herald)

“Seoul Christmas Festival 2017,” sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Tourism Organization has returned, offering a bonus for tourists who visit Seoul by Jan. 2.

Under the theme of “The city filled with happiness,” the festival features five different zones: “Dream Show Zone,” “Delight Zone,” “White Christmas Zone,” “Love-themed Zone” and “Blessing Zone.”

The 17-meter Christmas tree welcomes visitors at Cheonggye Plaza, where the stream starts, while 300 special lights, dubbed “Media-facade” balls, brighten the “Dream Show Zone” by changing their colors and moving up and down constantly along the songs.
Christmas-themed illuminations float on Cheonggyecheon. (Park Ju-young / The Korea Herald)
Christmas-themed illuminations float on Cheonggyecheon. (Park Ju-young / The Korea Herald)

Various illuminations including Santa Claus and Rudolph float down the stream, adding to the holiday mood of the festival.

Yonsei-ro, Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu

Once one of the most traffic-clogged roads in Seoul, Yonsei-ro has become a pedestrian-friendly street since the district banned drivers on weekends in 2014.

In a bid to make Yonsei-ro a favorite tourist spot and promote sales of local markets nearby the street, Seodamun is holding the “2017 Sinchon Christmas Street Fair” from Dec. 23-25.

About 1,000 round-shaped lights are to hang from poles, illuminating the 500-meter street from Yonsei University’s main gate to Hyundai Department store.

Visitors can take pictures at photo zones installed on the street, including Cinderella’s pumpkin coach and other fairy-tale themed spots.

Besides the snowfall-like lighting, the street fair also offers various activities to enjoy. A Christmas market will be set up along the road, selling Christmas cookies and European foods. Families and lovers can rollerblade along the street, decorate Santa Claus balloons and take in concerts that will take place at the main stage in Star Plaza at 7 p.m. during fair days.

Starfield Coex mall, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu

How about taking pictures with a giant Christmas tree underground?
Starfield Coex mall revealed its 12-meter Christmas tree in November, standing at the center of its signature “Star Madang” library.

The Instagram-worthy Christmas tree, decorated with golden ornaments and with a large star placed on top, attracts visitors who want to take the best shot of the year. 

The golden Christmas tree shines at Starfield Coex mall. (Park Ju-young / The Korea Herald)

Star- and sphere-shaped decorations hung from the ceiling increase the festive mood, making the place look even more glamorous.

People working at Coex also frequent the spot to feel the Christmas spirit. “The Christmas tree makes me feel refreshed from hectic daily life,” said Kim Na-Kyung, who works in an office at the building.

By Park Ju-young (