New Year's in Busan

Spectacular New Year Ceremonies in Busan

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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!

New Year's in Busan


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

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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


 

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Jeongsu lighting our floating lantern

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.

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When: 6:00 AM to 7:30 AM, January 1 every year
Where: Haeundae Beach, Busan


Just WOW.

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

 

Will you be there next time?

Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

13 Comments

  1. Autumn Ashbough on January 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Gorgeous photos! I especially love the lanterns and the lake. I will have to check you out on instagram.

    • Linda on January 12, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      thanks Autumn! That is actually the ocean! It was really beautiful! 🙂

  2. Laura Nalin on January 12, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    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!

    • Linda on January 12, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Awesome! Was it the same or different than what I experienced?

      • Laura Nalin on January 12, 2016 at 11:44 pm

        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!

  3. Megan Indoe on January 12, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    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!

    • Linda on January 12, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      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!

  4. Wendy Flor on January 12, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    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.

  5. Gina Panozzo on January 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    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! 😉

    • Linda on January 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      YAY! 🙂 Let’s do something like that!

  6. Nathan Anderson on January 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    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!!!!

    • Linda on January 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      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. 🙂

  7. Rafiqua Israel on January 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

    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!

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