One of my favorite parts about Korea is the plethora of festivals they have almost every weekend – that, and drinking-in-public being okay (encouraged, really). It’s like Vegas everywhere.
#9 on my Korean Bucket List was to go to at least 3 more festivals. Since writing it 3 weeks ago, I’ve already crossed this off my list (although I’m sure I’ll be going to plenty more). Korea makes it easy because there are so many festivals to choose from: Lantern Festivals, Whale Festivals, Cherry Blossom Festivals, Bulgogi (marinated beef) Festivals, Music Festivals, Film Festivals etc etc.
This past weekend was the one I was looking forward to most: the Busan Fireworks Festival. There are a few things that make me really truly happy in this world – Koala bears, Harry Potter, the 49ers and Sacramento Kings, sunflowers, and FIREWORKS. So needless to say, I was ecstatic.
Our plan was to spend the day in Busan but after celebrating Halloween the night prior, we didn’t actually get out of bed until 1pm. After finding out “slow train” tickets were sold out until 530pm, going to the bus station instead, meeting up with friends for drinks and food and overall thinking we had way more time than we actually did, we finally arrived at Gwangalli Beach (where the fireworks would be held) 5 minutes to 8pm – the start of the show. Huge crowds were bustling towards the beach, little kids scurrying alongside their parents. The first set of fireworks went off and the huge stampede of people literally started running (ourselves included). As we finally approached the beach, police cars, officers and fences were blocking every decent view of the show, leaving a crowd of extremely angry, intoxicated (and late) people to plot and scheme.
After jumping fences and walls, ignoring angry shouts from policemen, running from said policemen, being temporarily tortured by the booming fireworks we could hear but could only see in the reflection of tall buildings, crawling under tarp walls and tents and accidentally ditching half our group who got grabbed by the police, we had successfully evaded Korean security and were home-free on the beach with the perfect view of Gwangan Bridge and the amazing fireworks show we had almost missed.
Dozens of glittering fireworks lit up the sky at every second. Lasers from the top of the bridge illuminated the smokey air and a waterfall of sparks cascaded gracefully from the bottom. Huge phoenix-shaped fireworks flew around us. The air smelt of sulphur and salt water. You could feel every explosion boom in your chest while they burst in perfect synchrony to the music being blared. All of this mixed with a bottle of wine, soju and good company made this the most perfect show possible.
Because videos always show it best:
The only con to this entire trip is the fact that fireworks will never be the same again. I’ll no longer be impressed with 4th of July fireworks or even Disneyland fireworks. You’ve set the bar, Busan!
Oh and if you learned anything from this post – I hope it’s that you need to get to the Busan Fireworks Festival EARLY. It’s the most popular and therefore the most crowded festival of the year. Also, don’t rush to the metro afterwards (and don’t even think you’ll be able to hail a cab), unless you like squeezing onto trains like sardines. Hang out at the beach afterwards – you can drink anywhere, remember?
Attempting & failing at “jumping pics” after the fireworks