Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Living in Korea has really made me more aware of seasons! The summer is so humid, and the winter is SO cold. Spring and Autumn are just beautiful. And because they are so short, they have that extra special feeling about them! So after my first long, hard, cold winter, I was ever so excited for Spring and all the beauty (cherry blossoms) it was to bring!
Famous for Cherry Blossoms
April brings in the famous Cherry Blossom Festival. Our town, Jinhae, is known for its Cherry Blossoms. It is not the only place that they grow but each town seems to have its own thing they are famous for, and this is ours. Each year they have a cherry blossom festival which is the talk of the town and people literally come from all over the country to this festival. As much as we tried to avoid the crowds and the chaos this year, we just got sucked into it. The blossoms are just too beautiful and spectacular and it’s such a buzz to see them and be in awe of them because, before you know it, they just come raining down a few days later.
This year, we took bicycles (from our local bike share system) down to the “romance bridge” over Yeojwa stream, where the main part of the festival takes place. We got going early in the morning, yet there were still tons of people! In our first year we went to check out the cherry blossoms with Marks co-workers the week before the festival actually started. We were a bit early for the blossoms as they only bloom in April. All the things were being set up and a few trees had started to blossom so it was still a bit festive. We also popped in one evening during the festival and it was chaotic, but pretty with all the lights up! The stream is decorated with light up bicycles, fancy lanterns and brightly coloured umbrellas.
We took our pictures and marveled at the beauty before catching a taxi to Gyeonghwa Station, only to find even more people. These railway tracks are the sight of many scenes from the Korean dramas on TV (as is the romance bridge) and is a popular place for young (and old) couples to take their couple photos with their selfie sticks and tripods. The town gets really jam packed, buses change their routes and things can really get chaotic. Thankfully, we live really close by so we have the luxury of choosing the best time to go.
Alternative Blossom Spots
If you’re not a fan of crowds or just want to see some unspoiled cherry blossoms in abundance, another beautiful place to see them is in Ungcheon, a small rural town just outside Jinhae. Ungcheon Dam is one of the first places Mark started fishing at, and is on the bus route between our houses. It is probably more beautiful than the festival itself, as these trees have been growing here for years and flower so beautiful and fully. It also doesn’t attract as many people so you’re able to get some great pictures and really just enjoy the beauty. We ended up packing a picnic (and the fishing rods) and spending the afternooon there. I highly recommend this spot for avoiding the crowds and taking some pictures, but you’ll, of course, miss out on the festival vibes and that excitement (or frustration).
Other festivities occur around town during this time as part and parcel of the festival. There are cultural dances at the Rotary almost every day, as well as an annual fireworks display that takes place on Jinhae-ru, the promenade that runs along the water. It’s a pretty extravagant show (I’m such a sucker for fireworks) that we love to go watch with a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine. During the festival period, the U.S Military base is also open to the public. We have always been curious to see inside the base, but it only opens at 11 for visitors. Because of our early start we didn’t get the chance to be Nosey Parkers like we wanted to!
Blossoms, Blossoms, Everywhere!
The trees are all over Jinhae (not just at the festival location) so we did get to experience the beauty (in Marks case- allergies) of the blossoms a few weeks later! Here’s a map for you to see how far apart the festival locations are for your perusal. If you’re traveling from other cities in Korea, please remember how crazy festival traffic can get. This year cars were not permitted to drive into Jinhae without a residents’ sticker and were made to park in an allocated lot and take a bus closer into the town.
Cherry blossoms are not isolated only to Jinhae, but all over Korea. Do you have a favourite spot near you where you like to enjoy the flowers?