The return of the scorching summer sun and humid air is not always welcome, especially if you live in the big city surrounded by a concrete jungle and elbow-to-elbow crowds.
The heat wave is expected to continue until August with occasional rain in July, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
Thankfully, the sprawling Hangang River that runs through the middle of the capital offers spacious relief for tired urban souls. Various festivals by the river are in store for the summer, hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The festivals will kick off Friday, featuring some 80 different outdoor events for a quick, convenient and cheap summer getaway. They range from camping, water sports and a circus show to a jazz festival and a movie night. They will take place at 10 Hangang River parks until Aug. 21.
With a wide array of programs -- 31 additional programs compared to last year -- 30 percent of the programs this year have been arranged by young college students.
The festivals attracted more than 11 million citizens last year, and The Korea Herald has made a list of 10 must-visit events to enjoy.
1. Hangang Summer Camping (July 1 to Aug. 21)
A total of 430 camping sites will be installed at Ttukseom, Jamwon and Yeouido Hangang Park, along with special barbecue zones and shower booths. A camping site installed with a tent that fits four people costs 25,000 won a day during weekends and 15,000 won a day during the week.
2. Hangang Movie Night (July 16 to Aug. 20)
A free movie night by the river welcomes citizens every Saturday under four Hangang River bridges --- Gwangnaru, Ttukseom, Yeouido, Mangwon -- will screen movies of various categories. This year’s Hangang movie night will be sponsored by Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, celebrating film festival’s 20th anniversary. Specific dates and list of movie showings can be found at http://hangang.seoul.go.kr
3. Hangang Water Fight Festival (July 23 to 24)
Yeouido Hangang Park will turn into a giant water gun fight venue, along with stages for EDM Aqua Music Land for performances with upbeat songs and fun dances. A total of 10,000 participants will be divided into two teams based on their blood types to fight the scorching heat – and each other --- with cool water. Participants can sign up for online tickets at Ticket Monster, Auction and G-market.
Hangang Box 1 Race. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)
4. Hangang Box 1 Race (July 30-31, Aug. 6-7)
Inspired by cardboard boat races in Europe, this event has participants making boats out of cardboard for a race across the river at Jamsil Hangang Park. While participants can enjoy creative ideas and original inspirations, side-events such as a box maze and paper art classes will be prepared for visitors. A total of 800 teams of four will be accepted to join the race on a first-come, first-served basis. To join in, apply at Ticket Monster.
5. Hangang Night Walk 42K (July 30 to 31)
Warm summer nights create an opportunity to stroll by the river under the moonlight, enjoying the serene river view. A group night walk will start from Hangang Bridge to Gwangjin Bridge, passing 11 bridges that cut across the north and south part of the Hangang River. Walkers can choose either a 25-kilometer or 42-kilometer course with a participation fee of 35,000 and 40,000 won, respectively.
6. Slide The City (July 30 to Aug. 15)
Slide The City is one of the most popular summer festivals, run in over 200 countries around the world. The event is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as featuring the world’s longest water slide. A 10-meter-high and 150-meter-long slide will be installed at Ttukseom Hangang Park. An all-day pass for unlimited slides costs 30,000 won at the gate.
Midsummer Night's Jazz. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)
7. Midsummer Night’s Jazz (Aug. 6-7)
High-quality jazz performances will be showcased at Banpo Hangang Park, which also features songs that can entertain both children and parents. Jazz busking is also prepared for amateur jazz artists to provide varied performances.
Hangang Food Truck 100.(Seoul Metropolitan Government)
8. Hangang Food Truck 100 (July 20 to Aug. 17)
A hundred food trucks will be parked around Yeouido Hangang Park every Wednesday. A wide promenade will turn into a giant food court of cuisines from all over the world. Food trucks will be parked on Monday to Thursday during the first two weeks of August. Disco, hip-hop and folk music performances are also prepared.
Hangang Moonlight Circus. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)
9. Hangang Moonlight Circus (Aug. 13-14)
Featuring renowned fire artist Alvin Lopez and Fire Bandit, spectacular shows such as fire dancing, fire parades, vertical performances and aerial arts will be put on for audiences to at no cost. Performances will take place at specially designed stages at Banpo Hangang Park.
10. Hangang Ebul Movie Festival (Aug. 12-14)
A giant movie screen will be installed at Yeouido Hangang Park, giving Seoulites the chance to watch movies from under a cozy blanket beneath a starry night sky. Screenings with themes including horror, comedy and romance will be showing in Yeouido Hangang Park. The recommended dress code is pajamas, but it is not mandatory. Sign up at www.facebook.com/ebulmovie
for a ticket at 15,000 won each.
More information can be found at Seoul Hangang Parks’ official website at http://hangang.seoul.go.kr.
By Kim Da-sol (email@example.com)