Week 2 – The Garden of Morning Calm Light Festival

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Do you love big, warm, and bright lights that illuminate the cold, winter sky?

I have just the festival for you—the light festival at the Garden of Morning Calm. The garden’s name is based on Rabindranath Tagore who called Korea the “Land of Morning Calm”. The founder of the garden, Sang-kyung Han, decided to open the doors of his private garden by embracing the natural beauty of Korea. This festival begins in December and ends in early March. It showcases a beautiful array of colorful lights that will warm your heart.

The pictures online seemed photoshopped, but when I saw the festival with my own eyes—I was quickly humbled by the beauty set before me. As the sky turned dark, you could see the shine and color of each display. There are over 330,000 square meters of lights wrapped around the tall trees of the arboretum. And the garden uses environmentally-friendly LED lights to light up the displays!

In order to get to the Garden of Morning Calm, you have several options to reach your destination. It is located in Gapyeong which is 2-3 hours away by bus or train. I decided to take public transportation which meant that it would take a long ride to arrive at the garden. There were three different transfers for the bus, but it was extremely easy to navigate, especially by using Naver or Kakao Maps. The easiest, but most expensive mode of transport is by car.

The garden opens at 10am and closes it’s door at 9pm or 11pm (special extended hours due to the festival), but it’s important to catch the last bus which departs at 7:50pm. Otherwise, you have to find transportation back to your destination, such as taxi or private car.

The light festival was truly a beautiful experience and an amazing photo opportunity as well! Bright and vivid colors lit up the sky. There were displays such as dolphins, the sea, flowers, elephants, carriages, hearts, homes, umbrellas, tunnels, and so much more. Each display had its own theme and created a special moment as you wandered through the garden.

Much like a moth, I gladly followed the beautiful lights that lit the night.

However, it meant that I missed the last bus out of the garden. That was indeed a problem. And the next taxi wouldn’t arrive until 1 hour later. It was freezing cold too!

Fortunately, I ended up approaching and befriending a lovely Korean couple from Busan who happened to drive to the light festival that night! My friends and I ended up hitching a ride with them back to Seoul which saved us so much time. They taught us Korean phrases and they practiced their English with us during the entire ride. We promised to meet them again to thank them for their kindness! We scheduled a Korean barbeque and met up with them to eat during the following week—where we drank soju and ate endless meat at Myeong-nyun Jinsa Grill at an affordable price, 15,000 won per person!