For the first week of May there is a massive festival called the Hi Seoul Festival and basically there are all sorts of cool events and sub-festivals planned at various locations all over Seoul. There were too many (and they were too spread out) to realistically attend but I did manage to go to the Friendship Festival and the Magic Festival.
The Friendship Festival was from April 27-29th and I went on the 29th. Ironically I experienced the Friendship Festival alone because Matt decided he had to do his report cards instead and that he couldn't finish them in time and go to the festival. It was all right though because it was really cool and I enjoyed myself anyway. It was held in Seoul Plaza and it was a really beautiful, warm day. There was a big stage set up and the hosts spoke in Korean and English. Dancers from around the world were showcased and there were booths representing tons of countries where you could buy food and goods. I bought a number of really cool things including a painting from Sri Lanka, a purse (which is a much deeper burgundy red than the picture shows) and wallet from India, and chocolate from Kazakhstan.
The event was so well planned and everyone was really friendly and things were actually reasonably priced. I realized how jaded festivals like the Taste of Edmonton have made me when I lined up to get a henna tattoo and then was SHOCKED to realize that both the henna tattoos and the face painting were FREE. And when a woman politely approached me with two books on Korean history and I almost asked her how much they cost. I felt humbled when she asked if I would take them, read them and then please donate them to my local library in Canada so that we could have some books on Korean history. Later when I was wandering through the different booths a woman from the China booth gave me a brand new set of postcards. This never happened in Edmonton! And I was able to buy a cup of fancy milky tea for $1 and a bunch of samosas for $3. I'm not used to festivals where people give you nice free gifts and you can afford to eat and drink.
Free stuff!! I love free stuff!
The whole plaza was surrounded by framed drawings/paintings done by kids that live in Korea (but who weren't necessarily Korean by birth). There was a big wall where you could write your wish to the world. Also there was a place to try on costumes and play percussion instruments from around the world. It was a really fun time, even if I went without any friends. This festival has been the most impressive one I've been to. If you're looking for more pictures you can go here. If it's awesome video from all the cool dancers you can look here, here, here or here!
Someone dressed up in one of the costumes and one of the Mexican dancers.
Here's a couple of my favorite drawings by the kids.