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Searching for spots to catch the fall fireworks : Start planning now to get the best seat for the annual Yeouido show

Sept 09,2017
The Seoul International Fireworks Festival 2016 was held on Oct. 8. This year’s festival, featuring three teams from the United States, Italy and Korea, will be held on Sept. 30. [ILGAN SPORTS]
To offer guests a luxury experience during the fireworks festival, hotels such as the Seoul Garden Hotel,top, and Conrad Seoul Hotel in western Seoul,bottom, are offering unique fireworks packages. [SEOUL GARDEN HOTEL, CONRAD SEOUL HOTEL]
Summer is hot, winter is freezing, autumn is cool, nice and breezy. The weather in September and October is considered the best in Korea, with clear skies and a mild wind that gives people the perfect excuse to go out and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities without catching a cold or breaking a sweat. Among the many to choose from, the most spectacle experience is available in Yeouido, western Seoul, home of the Seoul International Fireworks Festival, which will be held this year on Sept. 30.

Since its launch in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium, the fiery festivity sponsored by Hanwha has attracted more than one million people to the Han River Park in Yeouido every year. This year’s show will feature shows from three teams - Melrose from the United States, Parente from Italy and Hanwha from Korea.

Even though the fireworks don’t start until 7 p.m., people go out and grab seats in the park starting early in the day. Those who arrive just in time for the fireworks usually miss out on grabbing a good spot. So, while the festival may be weeks away, here are a few tips for securing yourself a spot to take in the spectacular show.

Nature’s free seats

The closest view you can get of the fireworks is undoubtedly from the Han River Park in Yeouido, western Seoul, right in front of while the fireworks will be launched. Additionally, if you can get a spot near the Wonhyo Bridge, you can enjoy the fireworks cascading like a shining waterfall in the Han River.

On the other side of the river, at the Ichon Han River Park in central Seoul, it may be easier to grab a spot to enjoy the show. Although it’s not right underneath the colorful lights, Ichon Park offers a broader perspective, making the whole viewing experience a lot easier on your neck.

Other comfortable spots are available on the river’s islands, such as Seonyu Island and Nodeul Island, the former to the west of Yeouido and the latter to the east of Yeouido. Entrance to both islands is free, but since they’re both popular picnic spots on the weekends, visitors are advised to take their mats and get themselves a seat early in the afternoon.

A little further away from the Han River are city parks that are located slightly higher than their surroundings, which offer an almost cinematic view of the river and the fireworks. Sayuksin Park in western Seoul is a tourist attraction not only because of its historical significance, but its location, a 10-minute walk away from Yeouido Han River Park, making the park a perfect spot to take in the show. The park at Gogu Hill in southern Seoul also provides an elevated view of the river, as it is just a short distance from Sayuksin Park.

To get to Yeouido Han River Park, get off at Yeouinaru station, line No. 5, exit 2 or 3. Ichon Han River Park is a 10-minute walk from either Yongsan station, line No. 1 exit 1 or 2, or the Sinyongsan station, line No. 3, exit 2 or 3.

To go to Nodeul Island, get off at Nodeul station, line No. 9, exit 2 and walk 5 minutes. Seonyu Island is a 10-minute walk from Seonyudo station, line No. 9, exit 2.

Sayuksin Park and Gogu Hill are near Nodeul station. Get out at exit 1 for Sayuksin Park, or exit 3 for Gogu Hill.

A luxurious night out

For those willing to pay a little more for a full view from the comfort of a sofa or a bed, hotels near the Han River offer special fireworks packages with riverside view rooms. The Conrad Seoul in western Seoul is offering seven kinds of rooms as a part of its “Fireworks Room Packages,” with riverside rooms, night snacks and complimentary breakfast, ranging from 590,000 won ($522) for the cheapest room for two, up to 6,990,000 won for the penthouse suite.

The Seoul Dragon City, officially opening its doors on Oct. 1, will be the first “hotelplex” to open in Seoul. Located in Yongsan District, central Seoul, the location will be home to four hotels on the same grounds. Prior to its official opening, the hotel multiplex will be offering guests a special fireworks package at all four hotels within the complex. The price differs by hotel, but starts at 275,000 won.

A cheaper option is available at the Best Western Premier Seoul Garden Hotel in western Seoul, which is offering two options: 154,000 won for a standard room with beer and a pack of beef jerky, or a 176,000 won standard room package with wine and cake. The hotel doesn’t offer a riverside room, but the location near the Han River Park allows those who head to the park for the event a comfortable location to end their night that is only a short walk away.

Other hotels such as Glad Hotel Yeouido and Kensington Hotel Yeouido also have riverside rooms, but are not offering specific fireworks packages.

To get to Conrad Seoul Hotel, get off at Yeouido station, lines No. 5 and 9, exit 4. Visit www.conradseoul.co.kr or call (02) 6137-7000. Seoul Garden Hotel is next to Mapo station, line No. 5, exit 3. Visit www.seoulgarden.co.kr or call (02) 710-7111. Seoul Dragon City is at Yongsan station, line No. 1, exit 3. Visit www.seouldragoncity.com or call (02) 2223-7000.

Fewer people, more fun

Hanwha’s 63 Building, located across the street from the Yeouido Han River Park is currently offering four options for festivalgoers, ranging from the “Romantic Golden Ticket” for dinner at the building’s restaurant on the 59th floor, to the “Family Golden Ticket” for an outdoor picnic table on the building’s terrace on the fourth floor. You can apply for a free ticket on the building’s website until Sept. 27.

The Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is the largest fish market in Seoul, with over 7,000 square meters of space dedicated to providing the freshest fish to residents of the capital. Get yourself a plate of fresh sashimi, and then head to the rooftop garden or the building’s parking lot to enjoy the show with a delicious treat.

Or park your car in the nearby parking garages spread out across Noryangjin to enjoy the fireworks in the comfort of your vehicle.

To get to the 63 Building, get off at Saetgang station, line No. 9, exit 3. To apply for the golden ticket event, visit www.hanwhafireworks.com.

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is connected to Noryangjin station, lines No. 1 and 9.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]