Where to spend New Year's Eve in Seoul
In Korea, Christmas may be all about googly-eyed lovers wandering around the streets holding hands, but New Year’s Eve is all about family and friends.
Whether you’re looking for the traditional events or where to party the night away, there’s a dizzying array of NYE options in Seoul.
Here's where to:
Watch the first sunrise
Countdowns at midnight are standard in any country, but the traditional Korean way to celebrate the new year is to bask in the glow of the first sunrise.
The Homigot Sunrise Festival will be held on Pohang Beach, located at the easternmost tip of Korea. Featuring live cultural performances and fireworks at midnight, the festival will also serve up a sample of the traditional rice cake soup (tteokguk) after the sunrise. The event is free of charge.
Gyeongsangbuk-do, Pohang-si, Nam-gu, Daebo-myeon, Daebo-ri (호미곶 해맞이: 호미곶 해맞이 광장 포항시 경산북도); +82 54 1330; eng.ipohang.org
Literally ring in the new year
Despite frigid temperatures, thousands of people turn out to watch the Boshingak bell ceremony every year. At the stroke of midnight, the sky is filled with fireworks and a special citizen selected by the city rings the bell, to the approving roar of the crowd.
45-5,Gwancheol-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 관철동 45-5); +82 42 481 4650; jikimi.cha.go.kr
Find the best concerts
Party venues having been saving up their budgets for the biggest concerts/parties of the year. Held at the Walker Hill Theater and the Walker Hill Vista Hall, the High Light Festival 2012 Countdown is set to be one of the biggest year-end concerts Seoul has ever seen. Far-East Movement and other acts will be partying it up onstage. For soon-to-be 20-year-olds, tickets are 50 percent if you were born during the lucky year of 1993. Ticket prices: ₩143,000, ₩121,000 and ₩77,000.
San 21, Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 광진구 산 21); +82 2 455 5000; highlightfestival.mnet.com
Countdown Seoul 2012 at Times Square is showcasing three concerts with three different types of music to really cater to the musically picky. The main stage, called the countdown stage, will host the biggest headliners on the first floor of the mall. A new wave stage will be on the second floor, while electronic dance and house music will be playing at M-pub.
Tickets are available through Mnet, Interpark, Auction, and Yes24.com. If bought between December 1-30 the price is ₩77,000; however if purchased at the door, the cost is ₩99,000.
442, Yeongdeungpo-dong, 4-ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 영등포구 영등포동 4가 442); countdownseoul.com
Splurge on a fancy dinner
If you’re craving a more quiet but still special night with a loved one, the swankiest hotels in Seoul will be hosting the fanciest dinners. Lotte Hotel’s Countdown Dinner will be served at the newly-renovated La Seine buffet at three different times: the first at 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., the second at 8 p.m.-10 p.m., and the last at 10:30 p.m.-12:30 p.m.
The two earlier dinners come with complimentary red and sparkling wine for ₩125,000 while the last includes just red wine for a total of ₩100,000.
30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea (서울특별시 중구 을지로 30); +82 2 771 1000; www.lottehotelseoul.com
One of the priciest dinners in the city that night will be served at the Sky Lounge at the InterContinental Seoul COEX as part of the hotel’s romantic proposal package, which ends on New Year’s Eve. Featuring a private table adorned with rose petals, Champagne, and a fabulous view of the city’s skyline, the package’s grand total rings up to ₩700,000.
524, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 봉은사로 524); +82 2 3430 8630; www.iccoex.com
Join other party animals
Every New Year's Eve, the W Hotel throws the most stylish party in the city. This year, the main act is DJ Belzabass from Italy. Join other fabulously dressed partiers at Woo Bar. Tickets are ₩50,000.
21, Gwangjin-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 광진구 광장동 21); +82 2 465 2222; www.wseoul.com
Meanwhile, following on the heels of the Ministry of Sound Christmas Eve party, Swedish DJ Rasmus Faber will be the headlining act at the biggest NYE party south of the river at Ellui, the largest club in Korea.
129, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 청담동 129); +82 2 549 2073; www.ellui.net
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