- More than one million people expected to turn out for Seoul’s annual fireworks festival
- Visitors advised to use public transport, arrive hours early for good riverside viewing spot
- Over 100,000 fireworks from designers around the world will be set off
Expect debilitating traffic jams and crammed subways as hordes of joyous, beer-guzzling, gimbap eating, DSLR-toting visitors hit the streets of Seoul this Saturday for the city’s most explosive festival of the year.
“It’s Seoul’s biggest event,” says Hee-jae Kim, an operations representative for the annual Seoul International Fireworks Festival, now in its 11th year.
“To have more than one million people turn out to one spot, for that one event on one day … there isn’t anything like it in terms of scale.”
Set in Yeouido, one of the city’s business and media epicenters, the fireworks festival takes place in front of the 63 Building, event sponsor Hanwha Corporation’s iconic skyscraper overlooking the Han River.
Canada’s Apogee Fireworks will showcase its “Skyfall” display while Japan’s Tamaya Kitahara Fireworks team plans to shoot a Japanese garden into the sky. The French team, Ruggieri, will set their streaming lights show to opera music.
By the numbers
Hanwha is spending approximately ₩3.5 billion ($3.3 million) on the festival.
A total of 100,000 fireworks will be set off on Saturday starting at 7 p.m. More than 3,000 staff and police will be on safety and security standby.
“I made sure to come three hours early to get a good spot with my friends,” said Miji Lee, 29, who attended last year.
“You should remember to bring a big mat, a blanket and a trash bag. And try not to drink too much or you’ll have to wait the huge lines for the bathroom.”
For this year’s event, 600 staff have been recruited to clean up the inevitable island of trash that will be left behind.
More visitor tips
Due to expected traffic snarls, visitors should use public transport to get to the festival.
Although restaurants and viewing platforms on Yeouido skyscrapers will offer good views of the fireworks, organizers say visitors should sit outside to get the full effect of the music, smells, noise and special effects.