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Cheonan’s Cherry Blossom Festival
May 10, 2019

Whether someone has lived in Korea for a long time or he or she is fresh to Korea, spring will always spark excitement knowing it is cherry blossom season. This is because every year these blooming flowers are a gorgeous yet ephemeral occurrence.

Cherry blossom festivals are notorious for bringing in large crowds of people especially to the top festival locations in Korea including Seoul and Gyeongju. Why fight the traffic and crowds and make the several hour journeys there and back when we have our very own festival in Cheonan. Now of course there will be both traffic and crowds, it is Korea afterall, but less traveling to see those same cherry blossoms.

The festival is held at the Eunseok Elementary School (은석 초등학교) in the Yeoncheon-ri (연천리) area of Cheonan. The school is located along a road lined with 10km of beautiful cherry blossoms. The festival has many activities, games, performances, and vendors designed to entertain those of all ages. Then a leisurely walk along the farm-surrounded path of cherry blossoms is a peaceful contrast to escape the chaos and excitement.

During the course of the festival, there are a wide variety of things to do, see, and taste.  The festival entertainment crew does a great job of having ongoing games and contests or performances. They have hula-hoop contests for kids as well as adults. Another contest has pairs of people rolling one giant dice each to try and have the dice add up to ten. I would love to report on the quality of the prizes they gave out, but sadly I didn’t win any. The festival’s traditional Korean dancing and percussion performances are fun for everyone to watch. And if you have the musical taste of a middle-aged Korean, you’ll enjoy the singing performances.

There are many vendors sprinkled throughout the festival including caricature artists, booths to buy mugs to print your own photo onto, and even hand-crafted wood art. Also scattered throughout are specific children-friendly activities like a bounce house, balloon animals, and even a station for creating edible ddeok (rice cake) art. They even have a part that I found hysterical where people lined up at the ddeok (rice cake) tent to help pull out an insanely long “ddeok” rope. This was followed by a ceremonious cutting of the ddeok for each person to snack on the segment they held. At night they finish the festival off with a long-awaited fireworks display. Basically the festival has a random yet large variety of things going on to keep people entertained from open to close.

Food

Beware: you may gain 5kg during your visit. There is such a wide variety of food options available amongst the countless food trucks and tents. The majority of cuisines are of course traditional Korean foods and Korean street food. But the food trucks add a modern twist with steak, chicken, and even Turkish kebabs and ice cream. And of course the biggest reason anyone goes anywhere: free samples! Several local farms and businesses give away free samples to promote their products. The dairy tent offered samples of all your delicious dairy items including cooked cheese, milk, and fresh yogurt. They even sold the creamiest and freshest  ice cream. Other tents were passing out hangwa (traditional Korean cookies), ddeok (rice cakes), banchan (Korean side dishes), and several other foods. Beyond eating all the samples, it’s also nice to buy a few of the locally made products to support many of these small, local businesses.

Directions

Address: 충남 천안시 북면 용암3길 10 은석초등학교

Bus numbers 383, 382, 381, and 380 all go to and from the bus terminal and Eunseok Elementary. Each at these buses operate at very spread out intervals so be sure to plan in advance. The bus schedule for bus 383 is posted below. The left side are the times the bus leaves from it’s first stop (which is about 30 stops before the school).

If you want to take a taxi instead of a bus, just tell the taxi driver the school name. This trip will probably cost around ₩20,000 from the bus terminal.

Pro-tip: the traffic is insane from a couple hours into the festival through the entire rest of the day. Unless you take one of the earlier bus times to the festival, the bus ride will take much longer than what any app on your phone may estimate it to take. The buses leaving the festival are also quite unreliable from the bus stop in front of the school. I highly recommend to save hours off your wait, walk 20-30 minutes down the road to the main main intersection and go to the bus stop named Yeonchun-ri (연춘리). This bus stop is marked as the pink star on the map below. You will be walking faster than the traffic will be moving and more buses run through that stop. Otherwise if you wait at the bus stop in front of the school, you may have the share the unfortunate circumstance we had in which one bus never came at its scheduled time and the next bus was over an hour late. If you decide to Kakao taxi, it also may be worth making that walk to the main road otherwise the price will be racked up as the taxi drags you through said traffic.

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