Started in 2007, Seoul Jazz Festival has become a mainstay in Seoul’s music scene, returning each year around May. It’s got a very calm vibe, the kind I’d drink wine at if I drank wine. You can even set up a little picnic if you want, there didn’t seem to be food restrictions. There are four venues, split between May Garden, Sparkling Dome, Pink Avenue, and Spring Garden. Dance, hang out, chat, sing along… if there’s one thing I learned about living in Korea, it’s that pretty much anything goes in terms of activity and dress. If you’re visiting Seoul or living in Korea, this two-three day festival is definitely a lovely way to spend a late May weekend.
Some 2015 Artists:
Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock
Jeff Bernat & Band
Sunwoo Jung Ah
How to Get There:
Use the subway and get off at the Olympic Park stop. Use Exit 3, and you’ll see the venue right away.
Where to Stay
I really enjoyed my stay at Harmony Hotel. The front desk is incredibly friendly, it’s quite close to Gildong Station (길동역), and the price is less than 50,000 won a night. However, if you’re planning early, I’d highly recommend checking out some of the apartments available on Air Bnb. I would have used one of them had they not been booked for that weekend.
What to Wear
Honestly, whatever you want within reason. Keep in mind Korea is still fairly conservative, and Seoul Jazz is an overall relaxed festival. No crazy bikinis or costumes or Panda suits. Dress for hot weather because you will sweat, and make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat or sunglasses.
Where to Eat
There are food stands spread out everywhere. Everything from a Turkish food stand to classic Korean foods to fast food like hot dogs or MOS Burgers are around the area, and the prices aren’t too exaggerated. There’s also a GS25 to get some water bottles or little snacks. Bringing food in containers is okay as far as all the security checks I experienced went. If you want somewhere easy for a late breakfast, right outside the festival but still in Olympic Park is a Paris Croissant.
Have you been to Seoul Jazz Festival or a musical festival in Korea? What did you think?
Words and Photographs by Samantha