Korea: Favorite Photos from Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations

Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Destinations, Korea, Travel Photo Thursday | 20 comments

Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations

This week there are Buddha’s birthday celebrations across Korea. The big day was yesterday, May 3rd. Welcome to week 326 (5/4/2017) of Travel Photo Thursday. I must admit that I stayed away from the festivities this year. However, over my years in Korea, I have attended many gatherings celebrating Buddha’s birthday. Here is a collection of some of my favorite photos taken over the years. Enjoy!

To join in the Travel Photo Thursday fun simply choose a travel post from your blog.

Add a link to Budget Travelers Sandbox in your post. You can also add our Travel Photo Thursday logo.

You’ll find the code in the sidebar. Return here and place your link in the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.

Each link is shared on Twitter and the Pinterest Travel Photo Thursday board. 

Leave a comment before you go.

I do read each and every one, and always try to respond. 

Finally, take the time to visit some of the other bloggers in the link-up. Reading, posting, and sharing is what makes the link-up successful, and ultimately brings more traffic to your blog.


The colors and the smiles make this photo an all time favorite. For the most part, Koreans usually aren’t the happiest, but something seems to happen during Buddha’s birthday celebrations, and the smiles are contagious.


Lantern Parade, Buddha's Birthday, Seoul 2011

Seoul Lantern Festival

On the birthday eve, there is a huge birthday party held in the stadium of one of the local universities. While there is a lot of pomp and ceremony, it’s also a festive and fun event.


Buddha's Birthday Party, 2011


More smiles, wearing their colorful birthday outfits.


Buddha's Birthday, Seoul 2011


Many walk in the parade that winds itself through the streets of downtown Seoul.


Celebrating The Buddha


Gifts are also presented to the Buddha just outside Seoul’s main Buddhist temple, Jogyesa. The worshippers are offering songpyeon, Korean rice cake.


Offerings at Buddha's Birthday 2012

Celebrating Buddha's Birthday 2012 -- Beautiful Hats


Four to six weeks before the big day colorful lanterns begin to pop everywhere across the country. These graced the entrance of Jogyesa Temple.


Lanterns...Entrance Jogyesa Temple, Seoul


Buddha’s tree in the courtyard of Jogyesa Temple.


Jogyesa Temple, Seoul



Lotus Lanterns 2008

Buddha's Birthday 2008

Lantern Magic


Mit'a Sa, Bomun - Dong Seoul


Traditional dancers are also part of Buddha’s birthday celebrations, and I never tire of watching the magically elegant fan dance.


Fan Dance Rehearsal, Buddha's Birthday, Seoul 2012


Forty-three percent of Koreans are Buddhists, so his birthday is without a doubt one of the biggest festivals of the year. Based on the lunar calendar, the date changes from year to year. In 2018 the holiday is May 22nd. 

Have you celebrated Buddha’s birthday in Korea or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments.


Please welcome our co-hosts this week: Jan from Budget Travel Talk Ruth from Tanama Tales Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations


You can browse the Travel Photo Thursday archives here.


Please share using the share buttons at the top or bottom. Much appreciated!

Budget Travelers Sandbox

468 ad


  1. I would never tire of this either!!!!

    • Hi, Jackie! It’s one of those festivals that never gets old.

  2. I love the lit up lanterns in the first picture. Are there candles inside?

    • Hi, Sabrina. I think there were candles inside.

  3. Wow! Simply wow! The vibrancy of the colors in these photos and the pageantry just grabs you. One of my favorite posts of yours Nancie, you’ve definitely caught the spirit of place in these!

    • Hi, Jackie. Thanks for your kind words. I can never get enough of these colors.

  4. Wow! I love all the colors especially on that tree, the lanterns but I really love all their costumes. This just looks like a beautiful and fun celebration.

    • Hi, Mary. It’s one of those celebrations where people seem to relax and get into the moment.

  5. Gorgeous photos, Nancy and I’d love to see some of these festivities, especially a fan dance. I can see why your first photo is a favorite of yours with the rainbow of colors and the beautiful smiles!

    • Hi, Anita. The fan dance has always been my favorite.

  6. I would like to be in Korea for this celebration. They really go all out. Everything looks so colorful and vibrant. Interesting to learn only 43% of Koreans are Buddhist. That is very different from other Asian countries. #TPThursday

    • Hi, Ruth. I think there are a lot more Buddhists here than the stats show. Many Korean Christians also practice Buddhism but don’t publically admit to being Buddhist. Religion here is complicated.

  7. I’m surprised that only 43% are Buddhist. What are the rest? There are so many good photos here, especially the ones of all the colorful lanterns. It’s a much bigger celebration in Korea than it is in Malaysia, I think.

    • Hi, Michele. Korea has a large Christian population. The missionaries have done a good job here. Many of those Christians are probably Buddhists, too. Religion is not black and white here.

  8. What gorgeous colors Nancy! Oh and great photos!

    • Hi, Cacinda. Thank you! The colors you can catch during this festival are always amazing.

  9. What a beautiful and vibrant post. Great way to find out more about celebrating Buddha’s birthday – something I hadn’t come across before. Thanks!

    • Hi, Catherine. Korea goes all out for Buddha’s birthday. It’s an excellent time to visit the country.

  10. We came across Celebrations on the river in Phnom Penh that were very colourful and crowded. We asked what it was about when we returned to our hotel and they said it was for Buddhas Birthday but when we googled it the dates were wrong. We were there in Oct/Nov and it was meant to be in May, so I’m not sure! I love your photo of presenting rice gift to Buddha at Seoul’s main Buddhist temple, Jogyesa.

  11. Hi, Jan. I’ve discovered that Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on different dates throughout SEA. I know it’s based on the lunar calendar but makes no sense to me. In Thailand, they call it Macha Bucha (wrong spelling maybe), and it’s usually in January or February. Very confusing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *