Holiday spirit alive and well in Seoul

Visitors to Seoul at this time of year for business or tourism are in for a special treat. With unique ambiance and exciting New Year celebrations added to its cultural riches and state-of-the-art facilities, the city is as alluring as ever. The final days of 2010 hold the promise of holiday warmth, good cheer and seasonal delicacies, all served up with the gusto that one would expect of the festive season.

On December 31, a wide variety of celebrations are held at hotels, restaurants, bars and other locations across the city. The main event, however, is the bell-ringing ceremony at Bosingak, a historic pavilion in the heart of Seoul near City Hall and the Gwanghwamun intersection. An ocean of revelers gathers around the pavilion where its huge bell is struck at midnight to officially welcome the New Year. The event draws so many people that many families opt to watch the ceremony on TV in the comfort of their living rooms.

Others, meanwhile, opt to bundle up and join the massive crowd so they can be part of one of Seoul´s most festive and exciting events. Attendees can enjoy the once-a-year opportunity to stroll through the downtown streets untroubled by motor vehicles, as many major roads are closed on New Year’s Eve. There is also a late-evening concert, featuring some of the country’s top entertainers and pop stars, on a stage set up in front of the pavilion. Street vendors sell various items ranging from tasty finger food to holiday paraphernalia like sparklers. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks paint the sky while a massive cheer erupts from the crowd. After the ceremony is over, many attendees head to the adjacent Jongno area to continue the celebrations at one of the many bars, clubs and restaurants.

Visitors interested in sampling Seoul’s pulsating nightlife will find that they have arrived just at the right time, as New Year’s Eve offers some of the biggest parties of the year. In areas such as Hongdae, Sinchon and Gangnam, clubs are packed as revelers toast the New Year and dance the night away.

For those who seek to get into the holiday spirit with a glide across the ice, skating is available at a number of locations, such as Seoul Plaza, Olympic Park and Mokdong Ice Rink as well as the Grand Hyatt and Sheraton Walkerhill hotels. There are also a wide range of activities such as rides and performances at Seoul Land and Lotte World amusement parks.

The end-of-the-year period offers visitors to the Korean capital the opportunity to partake in the city’s celebrations while savoring the atmosphere of the holiday season. Following a year in which it served as World Design Capital and hosted the G20 Seoul Summit, the city has much to celebrate, and it wholeheartedly invites the world to join in.

For more information, please contact Alexander Paik of the Seoul Tourism Organization (82-2-3788-8106/alex@seoulwelcome.com) or log onto the STO website (www.miceseoul.com).

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