After dinner we headed to Duryu baseball park to get a spot for the festival. The lantern festival is in celebration of Buddha’s birthday, and kicks off the celebrations a bit early. (The date for Buddha’s birthday changes depending on where you are, in Korea it’s the 8th day of the 4th month of lunar calendar)
The festival is absolutely stunning and definitely worth a rushed weekend to Daegu. However plan ahead, since hotels and hostels will book up quickly and tickets will sell out fast. There are a couple different ticket styles. To buy tickets for a seat in the stadium it’s 10,000 won and should be done as soon as possible. The next option is to buy tickets to get into the stadium and also have a lantern, the lantern which will be for four people, which is fun for groups and is 20,000 won. The third ticket option is to arrive early and get first come first serve seating for 6, 000 won. The opening for this starts at 1pm and stops at 4pm for about 6,000 seats available in the yellow and blue zone. This means you’ll have to spend your day waiting in line and quite possibly unable to leave the area. If you do this I highly suggest taking snacks and a picnic with you and some sunscreen. It won’t be too boring since there should be performances. You could also try going up to 83 tower and watching from there, but maybe head early since the shuttle only shows up every half hour at E-world.
We didn’t book far enough in advance and when the day came weren’t really looking forward to waiting in line for hours for the possibility of a seat. So instead we arrived before sun down and wandered around the stadium looking for a good spot in the park, having just missed a shuttle to 83 tower. Some people had arrived very early, with picnic lunches and even one or two people with their own tents. We set a mat down in the dirt and grass on the side of the hill where we had an open view of the sky and of 83 tower in the distance and waited.
The lanterns don’t go up until dark. First slowly, which resounded in oohs and ahhs and then laughter from the people around us as we realized a lantern had escaped early. After awhile, and a bit of music, someone nearby us played “I See the Light” from Tangled, more appeared. It was absolutely stunning when the sky filled with lanterns. Even more so when we looked up, the entire sky was filled, like stars or falling fire.
We could also see lanterns that were no longer lit, floating in the night sky, pale, ghostly and jellyfish like.
After the lanterns comes fireworks, followed by a parade. Expect a large amount of people all hurrying out of the park at once, around the time the fire works go off. The parade starts near the E-world and makes its way through Daegu. We headed off near E-world and stood opposite the park to watch the parade begin.
It was fun to watch a night parade. Unable to fully make out people but just these lights moving down the street in order, or watching monks dance and make music without pause. People in the parade hand out things, booklets for the buddhist school in Daegu or lanterns. Since we were at the very beginning of the parade, the start, the only thing we ended up with were booklets for the school, while as we walked closer to the station we saw tons of people watching the parade with their arms full of lotus lanterns.
Also it’d be best to take the trains during this time. A lot of the bus routes are suspended around the parade route and driving will be difficult. The trains will be busy but still running.