Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
Photo: narafestival.com
Hwacheon County, South Korea is probably best known for hosting the annual Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. Every year, it welcomes thousands of tourists from all over Korea and abroad, who come to the festival to enjoy trout fishing and various winter entertainment.

Hwacheon is renowned for its clean lakes and rivers, beautiful mountains and kind-hearted people, as well as for being the coldest region in South Korea. No wonder that it is home to one of the world’s most famous ice fishing festivals. The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival was named the best festival in Korea by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The Korean word “sancheoneo” in the name of the festival refers to the wild trout that inhabits the rivers and lakes of Hwacheon. Sancheoneo only lives in very clean water that has plenty of oxygen. This fish is also known as the “queen of the valley” due to its graceful shape.

Sancheoneo ice fishing is the main activity at the Hwacheon Ice Festival. Every winter, the Hwacheoncheon (a tributary of the Han River) freezes, and thousands of people take part in a contest, catching fish through the holes drilled in an almost 15-inch layer of ice.

The festival has several fishing sites: an unreserved ice fishing area that can accommodate 8,000 people at once, a reserved fishing area that can accommodate 6,500 people at the same time, a fishing site for foreigners, and a small fishing site for preschoolers. In addition to regular ice fishing, there are special activities such as night fishing, lure fishing, ice fishing on pontoon, and bare hand fishing.

Bare hand fishing is the activity for the most adventurous festival-goers who are not afraid of the cold weather. Competitors put on the uniform provided by the festival organizers and climb into a pool with trout. Each participant has three minutes to catch a maximum of three fish with their bare hands. Afterwards, they can take a hot foot bath to warm up.

The festival has a grill center and a sashimi center where festival-goers can have their sancheoneo cooked. You can also eat at the official food court, local snack food court, meat grill center, food truck, or one of about a dozen street food locations scattered throughout the festival grounds.

Fishing isn’t the only activity you can enjoy at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. The event has a rich and diverse program that includes sleighing, snow sculptures, ice soccer, figure skating, various rides, a winter culture village, performances, contests, special events and promotions, and more.

Hwancheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Photo: Christopher John SSF




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