Spectacular New Year Ceremonies in Busan
I actually didn’t plan on going anywhere for New Year’s but rather travel during the Christmas holidays but I’m so glad that I switched and traveled to Busan for New Year’s! The second largest city in Korea offers spectacular ceremonies to welcome the new year – completely free to everyone!
There are two major New Year’s ceremonies you absolutely mustn’t miss!
December 31: Yongdusan Bell Ringing Ceremony
It’s a custom in Korea to ring a large landmark bell at a temple or special pavilion marking the end of a year and simultaneously the start of a new one. In Busan, you can see the bell ringing on December 31 at Yongdusan mountain (where Busan Tower is located). The bell is rung by various people for 33 times starting at midnight, this represents the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy’s 33 different forms of manifestations to save mankind.
Jeongsu and I hopped on the KTX from Osong Station (closest to Cheongju) straight to Busan and arrived there after almost 2 hours at around 11 PM. I was worried it might already be too late to get to see the complete ceremony but fortunately, we made it just in time.
A long line of people had already formed at the bottom of the mountain and we were afraid we won’t be able to go up. However, things moved quite quickly and the professional security personnel made a safe even possible.
click on my short Instagram clip below
When: 11 PM – 12:30 AM, December 31 every year
Where: Yongdusan Park, 37-55 Yongdusan-gil, Jung-gu, Busan
January 1: Haeundae Sunrise Ceremony
I have to admit, celebrating the new year in Busan can be quite tiring if you want to experience it to the fullest. We arrived at our guesthouse at around 2 AM and had to get up for the popular sunrise ceremony at Haeundae beach at around 5:30, which only allowed us roughly 3.5 hours of sleep.
Tip: Yongdusan Park is very close to Busan Station, so we decided to leave our luggage in the lockers at the station. After the bell ringing, we picked our bags up and took a cab to Haeundae where our guesthouse was located. I chose to stay in Haeundae because it’s where the sunrise ceremony is held early in the morning of January 1.
We arrived at around 6 AM at the beach in Haeundae and it was pretty packed. The organizers gave away free hot packs to warm our cold hands. Other vendors sold beautiful floating lanterns for 5,000 KRW. We absolutely had to buy one and light it to see it rise into the dawning sky. Local artists played acoustic music and the atmosphere was simply gorgeous.
click on my short Instagram clip below
Slowly making our way to the beach as close to the water as possible, we waited until around 7:30 when the first rays of sunshine could be seen. It was a magical moment and everyone cheered. Some people even decided to take a dip and swam in the cold winter ocean water of Busan – another Korean New Year’s custom.
When: 6:00 AM to 7:30 AM, January 1 every year
Where: Haeundae Beach, Busan
After the event was over, we went back to the hotel and fell asleep until noon. It was absolutely worth it and one of the best New Year’s I have ever spent. Here are the best pros on spending New Year’s in Busan:
- Traditional and modern events
- Completely free of charge
- Unbeatable atmosphere
- Slightly higher temperatures than in other parts of Korea
- Great organization and safety measures
Gorgeous photos! I especially love the lanterns and the lake. I will have to check you out on instagram.
thanks Autumn! That is actually the ocean! It was really beautiful! 🙂
I went to the sunrise party when I first moved here in 2013. It was so beautiful! Your photos are great and it looks like a wonderful way to ring in the new year! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome! Was it the same or different than what I experienced?
Well to be honest I’d only been in the country a little over a week and we didn’t put too much thought into it. We didn’t see the bell ringing, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen as I’m sure it did. We went to the beach in the morning and released balloons. It was super smoggy but still a nice experience!
Wow, that looks pretty cool! I’m skeptical of Korean festivals as we have been let down on numerous occasions, but this one looks legit! The lanterns seemed like it would be the highlight for me!
Yes it was really awesome! People were really nice. We burnt a hole in our lantern and were ready to kick it in the sand but other people were helping is to still let it float up in the air! Great atmosphere!
That’s a lot of people! Like summer when Haeundae is completely full. And those were brave spirits swimming in the winter chill. The summer we were there we stayed at the Westin Chosun and the view was amazing. This event looks like a good reason to be there on a winter.
The lanterns look amazing and so do your photos! Then again, lucky me got to see them before you posted. Take me to Busan next year! 😉
YAY! 🙂 Let’s do something like that!
I’m not one for huge New Years’ parties. Actually, this year I went to bed early and didn’t even stay up for midnight. This sounds like a great alternative to the normal type of New Year’s party! I love the shots you took of the sunrise… what a magical moment.
And that last one of all the people… holy moly!!!!
I feel ya! I usually don’t go out to big NYE parties either. The two events in Busan were really well organised by the city and even though there were many people, it felt relaxing and fun. 🙂
I really like your pictures especially of the lanterns. This seems like a much more relaxing NYE than I had, up in Seoul. I haven’t really been to anything crazy in Korea prior to this year so I decided to give it a shot. I like the idea of a relaxing night in Busan though…but it looks so busy!