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Play in the snow

2012/01/14 | 444 views | Permalink | Source

Winter festivals beckon families

By Lee Hyo-won

The subzero temperatures shouldn't keep you indoors as there are ways to indulge in outdoor activities. Even if you are not a fan of winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, seasonal festivals across the country are beckoning visitors for sleigh-riding, sledding, ice fishing or the simple pleasure of viewing snow-topped trees and ice sculptures.

Near Seoul

Dongjangkun Festival in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, offers thematic events centered on the scenic Baegun Valley.

The eighth edition of the event annually attracts visitors for its magnificent ice sculptures that are both natural and man-made. You can admire some 60 ice columns dotting the Baegun Stream while children can navigate their way through an ice castle and maze, and go for thrilling ride down an ice slide.

What differentiates this event from others is that it is held under the auspices of the Korean army (V ROK Corps), and so there are, in addition to thematic recreational structures such as a 120-meter-long ice tunnel, tanks and other military equipment that children enjoy using as backdrops for souvenir photos.

The festival runs through Jan. 29. Visit www.dongjangkun.co.kr/festival/winter/main/main2011.html (Korean) or call (031) 535-7242 for more information.

Jara Island, Gyeonggi Province, is famous for an annual jazz festival but is now host to the Sing Sing Winter Festival, which opened last Friday to run until Jan. 29.

On the sleighing rink, couples can ride a squat sleigh for two, while others can choose among a variety of uncanny sleds and sleighs including ones topped with a chair or sofa, or even one pulled by Siberian Huskies. Visitors can also take up the challenge of bicycling through the snow or gliding on white fields on a special train consisting of a string of rubber tubes.

After the fun in the snow visitors can "warm up" inside an igloo cafe featuring tables and chairs fashioned with ice.

Call (031) 580-2507 or visit www.singsingfestival.net (Korean) for more information.

Olympic Spirit

PyeongChang, best known as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, has been holding the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival for two decades now. The 20th edition of the festival opens today for a nine-day run until Jan. 21.

Most appropriately for a region with the heaviest snowfall in the country, the Snow Festival is a large-scale event with diverse offerings. It is particularly famous for its display of gigantic ice and snow sculptures. Moreover, in true Olympic spirit, it gives visitors a chance to glide down the ski jumping slope.

Call (033) 336-6112 or visit www.snowfestival.net (Korean) for more information.

Ice fishing

Inje, also in Gangwon Province, is a hot spot for ice fishing. Here people gather to catch "bingeo" (smelt), small silver fish that swim in large schools.

Visitors can drill small holes on a frozen river to catch fresh bingeo. They are considered something of a winter delicacy as the fish are deemed clean enough to be consumed fresh off the hook, albeit dipped in some spicy red pepper paste.

Visit www.injefestival.co.kr (Korean) for more information.

Before you go

Make sure to bundle up for the winter festivities.

Uniqlo's Heatec thermal underwear has become hot selling items, and a range of tops and bottoms for men and women are available for 19,900 won. Visit www.uniqlo.kr for store listings.

Also handy are portable heating devices such as pocket warmers. You can easily find disposable warmers at convenience stores for several thousand won. There are adhesive kinds that you can stick onto your abdomen, lower back and even feet. These are not to be applied directly on the skin but on a layer of clothing (on top of your thermal gear or socks).

Bulnoria has electric rechargeable warmers that last up to five hours for about 29,800 won. Those who are more sensitive to design can check out Hanil's sleek USB-chargeable devices that come in several colors, including even a pink one with a Hello Kitty motif for 24,000 won.

For many smartphone users the cold weather can be a curse for using touch-sensitive cell phones as it often requires removing gloves to operate them. This can be particularly irritating when you are engaged in outdoor activities for extensive hours. There are gloves especially designed for this, such as TouchOne and G-Touch (from 11,000 won to 22,000 won). Abovementioned hand warmers and gloves are available through major online shopping malls such as www.gmarket.co.kr.

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