One of the places I feel most at home is among plants. So when I saw a giant flower statue on Instagram I had to go and see it and the festival in person.
Goyang city North East of Seoul and I’m somewhat bitter I hadn’t heard about it before as their mascot’s seem to be cats which is a fun pun since the word for cat in Korean is goyangi 고양이. First off, I love cats and second off it’s a pun. How has no one I know mentioned this city before?!
I met a friend around noon at Jeongbalsan station 정발산역 (towards the end of line 3/the orange line) so that we could wander around the festival together. I thought I’d be much much earlier so I lugged my laptop with me, only to realize it’d taken longer to get to than expected and my phone was adamant it was going to rain. Thankfully there were lockers in the station so I was able to store my laptop safely away. I also noticed that there was a line nearby at what looked like a ticket office. I wandered over and saw that it was for the festival. I hadn’t realized it cost money so to save time/kill time I waited in line and bought our tickets. They were 12,000 in person. You can try and reserve them ahead of time and they’ll be cheaper.
When my friend arrived we headed out exit 1 and walked along the park towards the lake. Ilsan lake seemed to be where everything was happening. We crossed a bridge over a highway and then suddenly everything was much more festive. There were booths everywhere selling crafts, candles, showing off succulent art, selling food, snacks, and plants. I couldn’t figure out where we showed our tickets as we wandered around in search of coffee (something my friend needs to function.) There had been a lot of beautiful flower cafes along the park, however they were a bit expensive and she just wanted a super cheap americano.
Eventually we continued walking, and found that beyond some more food stands in the other direction was a Lotteria food truck where she grabbed an americano and I got the first Coca-cola slushie I’ve had in about 4+ years. (When did they start selling those here? I’ve missed slushies and now even my local street food stand has slushie makers!) Near the Lotteria food truck near the lake was an information booth which we headed to in order to figure out where we needed to show our tickets. On the way I noticed a line that said In/Out and we quickly bee-lined to that and joined others handing over tickets to get in.
Almost immediately you see the beautiful flowers. The entrance has a pathway strung up with orchids that you walk under and can pose with. Or in my case stand off to the side holding two drinks so your friend can take some cute selfies.
Then we headed to the next part where a woman was at work putting flowers up on a giant bull, titled “Bully and friends” The flower sculpture was made by a team up between Dubai Miracle Garden and Goyang International Flower Foundation. It was stunning, beautiful and fun to watch her work.
A lot of the flowers and plants were landscaped in artistic designs. Not only were the flowers beautiful but so were the designs. There were so many spots set up to take beautiful photos.
And then I spotted the flower statue I’d seen on Instagram near the lake. It was huge!
It was in direct sunlight and on a bright cloudless day a bit difficult to see how our pictures turned out. I spent a long time trying to make it look like she was holding the sun.
But I really just loved looking at all the flowers that made up her dress and hair and wondering how much work had gone into that because it really didn’t look easy.
It was around this point after a little bit more walking we found a map of the festival grounds and we hadn’t even made a dent in it. There was so much left still to see of stunning flowers that I was a bit dismayed. The day was edging on and I was absolutely delighted but it was hot and I was getting tired. We’d thought all the stuff outside had been the festival (which was somewhat on par for Korea) and it hadn’t been. So we’d wasted a lot of time looking at little craft stalls and food vendors.
We popped into one of the buildings and I got home and garden convention center vibes from the one I’d gone to in Chicago. If I’d been impressed outside, the inside plants was just stunning. The most colorful cacti I’ve ever seen were on display, along with a beautiful Cinderella carriage loaded with flowers, so many spots to take pictures with and of.
Not to mention there was a booth specializing in moss art. Different colors of moss used to decorate and add depth to silhouettes.
Oh and of course a beautiful flower bowl!
There was so much to look at and so much to see, everywhere, it was all at once overwhelming and amazing. Eventually we thought, we must be done, we’re running out of time and should get out of here. (Our goal was to get home before dark and since we were both over an hour away from our homes it meant we’d given ourselves curfews) But then we saw that it continued into a new section with flowers on display from around the world. Like these roses and miniature bonsai from Japan.
And then these from Thailand.
And all these flowers from South Africa.
Or these from Peru
It was so cool seeing flowers I’d never seen before. We didn’t even make it through everything because it was starting to get later and it was a week day holiday. We both had work in the morning. I took a couple more pictures inside before I could talk myself into leaving.
Outside we still weren’t done. We saw more flower trains and some cool roses before heading into an Africa inspired area.
Then several paths filled with flowers that led to a succulent garden and some cacti.
The succulents were set up in a very special way so that a person could stand behind them and pose as if it was the bottom of a hanbok. Then there were books and flowers, which is most things I love all in one spot. Add some tea and I might never leave.
Finally we walked through the ocean themed area in a bit of a rush to get out before the sun would start to set.
There was so many cool things to see at the festival. It was 12,000 won which is a bit steep seeing as most flower festivals in Korea are free, but most flower festivals in Korea are nothing like this. This was insane. There were so many orchids and flowers from all over the world. The amount of work that went into all of the plant art is mind boggling and it’s so beautiful that I didn’t even mind the crowds. This is an annual festival and unlike most flower festivals it’s several weeks long. I’m kinda bummed I’d never heard about it before because this is probably my favorite flower festivals I’ve ever been to. (Might even be my favorite festival in Korea period.) And this year I went to a lot of them. It’s totally worth the 12,000 won entrance fee. (which by the way comes with a 1,000 won coupon to use at a vendor so you can buy a little plant buddy to take home…which is great if you live in Korea, maybe you could use it for something else if you’re leaving….I bought moss because I was very inspired by the moss art)
Give yourself the day to go and explore the festival. It’s totally worth it.