Cheonan’s Heungtaryung World Dance Festival is by far the biggest event that Cheonan hosts each year. 2019 marked Cheonan’s 16th year of this annual event. The event takes place each year near the end of September and lasts 5 days beginning on a Wednesday and ending on Sunday night. The festival begins on Wednesday at ten in the morning for those competing in the dance competitions. For those coming to just enjoy the festivities and shows, the event kicks off at 7:00 pm Wednesday with the opening ceremony. During the ceremony, there are several opening performances, an introduction to each of the countries represented in the international division and then a grand welcoming by Cheonan’s mayor.
The 5 days are filled with many musical performances spread across many stages. Beyond the grand stage at the heart of the festival grounds, there are two additional big stages with several smaller more intimate stages spread amongst the park. One of the best parts about the festival is wandering with no plan and happening upon different stages and being surprised by the variety of styles of musical performances. At one moment you may catch yourself at a small rockband concert, the next at a beautiful tribute to the Korean independence movement, and then another a modern Taekwondo-dance fusion. There are many competitions mixed into the week of action. The main one is the international competition with groups from 17 countries performing their own rendition of their country’s traditional dance. Other competition categories include students, Heungtaryeong (people over 36), silver (people over 61), as well as solos and duets. The variety of talent and performance styles is truly remarkable to be apart of.
Although the festival is based around dance and music there is so much to do beyond just watching the performances. There are tents set up throughout the park next to and around the stages with three main showcase areas. One area hosts all the local vendors displaying and selling their amazing and innovative small business ventures. Another is the agriculture area to promote Cheonan and its surrounding areas and the agricultural market. The third area is the health zone designed to educate and bring awareness to many health-related topics and issues. As all Korean events typically are, this event is extremely kid-friendly with tons of crafts and activities sprinkled throughout the venue as well as an entire kids’ play zone located next to one of the big stages.
And of course, no festival is complete without a large selection of delicious foods. The festival has a large area of vendors selling street foods from a mix of cuisines from Turkish, Russian and Japanese to of course Korean food. Located on the other side of the festival grounds there is a large square dedicated to sitting down style Korean foods. Here everyone is sitting around drinking and eating and enjoying the cool autumn breeze amongst the festival excitement.
One of the biggest events of the festival is the Street Dance Parade. This takes place Friday night starting at 6:30 on the entire block in front of Shinsegae and the bus terminals. The parade lineup is full of both Korean and international groups. The city closes off the main roads and lines them with bleachers for first come, first serve to seat. The viewers get an up-close and personal experience as each group performs their routine. When the parade finishes there is a mini-concert in front of the Arario Gallery area of the street. This year the main performer’s name was Psy-Burger an entertainer famous for being a Psy look-a-like. The night ends at about 10:00 with a short yet exciting fireworks display.
The festival wraps up Sunday night during the closing ceremony. This is by far is the highlight of the festival. Starting at 6:30 the finals for the weeks’ worth of competition take place. First is the international than the national dance competitions. If you’ve missed the rest of the festival, this gives a perfect dose of some of the absolute best talents at the festival without having to waste time sitting through any mediocre performances. Following the finals performances, the international teams and the top national teams are welcomed onto the stage one by one. Then Cheonan’s mayor joins them for one final hoorah as the whole stage full of performers dance in unison then the rest of the audience follow along. The awards ceremony follows this and then the night is topped off by a gorgeous firework display above the main stage.
The festival takes place at Samgeori Park (삼거리공원) located on the south end of Cheonan across from the Cheonan museum (천안박물관). The address for Cheonan Samgeori Park is 306-1, Samryong-dong, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do. Because it is not located at the heart of Cheonan, the city provides free shuttles from the main landmarks of Cheonan to the festival. There are three shuttles, each with a separate origin to bring guests to and from the park. At each pick-up location there is a white tent and banner displaying the shuttle schedule as well as a festival volunteers passing out festival pamphlets and assisting people.
On Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday the shuttle C run every 15 minutes while shuttles A and B run every 25 minutes. For Thursday and Friday shuttle C runs every 20 minutes while shuttles A and B run every 40 minutes. The first bus leaves the starting locations at 9:00 am and the last bus leaves the festival at 11:00 pm.
|1st stop||2nd stop||3rd stop||4th stop||5th stop||6th stop||7th stop||8th stop|
|Bulmu Middle School||City Hall||Adminisrative Welfare Center (Post Office)||Across from the Ssangyong 3-dong Communit Service Center||Lotte Mart (Cheonan Location)||Ssangyong Hyundae I-Park Complex 6 (Bus stop #71559||Across from the Country Hyundae Apartments (GS self-serve gas station)||The Festival|
|1st stop||2nd stop||3rd stop||4th stop||5th stop||6th stop||7th stop||8th stop||9th stop|
|Bulmu Middle School||City Hall||Baekseok I-Park Complex 2||Dujeong Daewoo Apartment Complex 5||Jugong Apartment Complex 6 (In front of the bus platform)||IBK Bank (Across the street from Cheonan Highschool)||Chungmu Pedestrian Overpass||Across the street from WooseongVIP apartment complex||The Festival|
|Shinsegae Department Store (in front of Arario Gallery||Cheonan Station (in front of GS25 on the corner)||Wonseong-dong GS Supermarket bus stop (bus stop #693)||The Festival|