Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival 2019

Seoul’s Lotus Lantern Festival is held annually from Dongdaemun to Jogyesa in celebration of the coming of the Buddha. Thousands of representatives from temples and schools across the Buddhist world join a procession that lasts hours and is watched by visitors from all over the world. 

It has always struck me as odd that a philosophy-cum-religion based solely on releasing yourself from the cycle of torment through letting go of attachment would hold a festival to celebrate the birth of its founder-made-deity and invite thousands of people to watch it happen. However, that’s a topic for another blog post. 

The festival itself is quite pretty as the lanterns give a warmth and life to the city streets. As observers, we are limited to sitting behind the barriers and hopefully having a seat from which to watch the procession. 

My good friend Roy Cruz was visiting Seoul the night of the festival, and we decided to head out and see it for the first time in years. Luckily, we managed to get a seat in the front row and spend some time photographing the lanterns. 

Quickly realising that there wasn’t much to be had with frozen moments as the participants marched by, I dropped my ISO and began working with long exposures. Below you can see the results of this evening out. If you’re ever in Seoul around this time, I recommend heading out to see the festival.

Korean flags and face masks to celebrate Buddha's Birthday in Seoul

The blur of the constant procession of lanterns at the Lotus Lantern Festival 2019

Korean drummers at the Lotus Lantern Festival 2019

A woman in traditional dress holding a lantern

Korean Traditional Drums at the Lotus Lantern Festival

Dancers twirl for the Yeon Deung Hoe

A constant stream of celebration

Monks at the Lotus Lantern Festival 2019

Lotus Lantern Festival Yeon Deung Hoe 2019


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