Boryeong, South Korea
GPS: 36.305275935682, 126.5163895242
The Boryeong Mud Festival, or MudFest, is an annual South Korean festival. Usually occurring in July, it can attract over 3 million visitors to the normally sleepy coastal town of Boryeong. This event is a celebration of the mineral-rich mud of the region, which is used in a range of cosmetic products focussing on skin health. A huge assortment of mud-based leisure activities are on offer to festival-goers, with mud trucked in specially from the Boryeong mud flats to the Daecheon beach area in a demarcated mud zone. Activities include mud slides, mud wrestling, a mud marathon on the nearby mud flats, and mud football competitions. This incredibly popular festival traditionally takes place over two weeks, and is most famous for its final weekend, which is popular with westerners living in South Korea. The Boryeong Mud Festival has become a global festival, popular among South Koreans, as well as English-speaking, Chinese-speaking and other international visitors.
The mud zone can get crowded, but it is only one component of the festival. Exhausted by the childlike fun, many revellers migrate to the nearby beach to swim, meet people, relax and enjoy a drink. Health and beauty stalls close to the beach showcase mud-based products and offer massages and other demonstrations. Locally organised parades through the streets of Boryeong add to the excitement.
Three showcase events have become associated with the Mud Festival. Firstly, breath-taking flight formations by South Korea’s ‘Black Eagles’ Air Force division mark the commencement of the festival, with daring displays of airborne precision and speed. Secondly, a free K-pop music festival showcasing a selection of South Korea’s top music talent takes place on a beach stage which becomes a focal point for entertainment at night. Lastly, the Mud Festival is brought to a close with an impressive fireworks display.
Tour operators offering all-inclusive package deals, which include transport and shared accommodation, are the most convenient way to experience the Boryeong Mud Festival. While it is fully possible to organise your own experience, a more expensive package tour will significantly reduce stress and free you up for the main purpose of the festival, which is to have fun. If you are confident enough to organise your own accommodation and transport, be aware that the cheaper hotels and places of accommodation in Boryeong are not accessible online and have to be booked in person. This may involve spending time navigating the streets of Boryeong. Really cheap accommodation, involving a sleeping mat on shared floorspace, is likely to be available.
Staying overnight in Boryeong will enable you to experience the nightlife, including restaurants and bars. On the other hand, many people choose to experience the Mud Festival with a day trip from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Express buses from the Central City Bus Terminal in Central Seoul depart for Boryeong regularly, while a train trip from Seoul to Boryeong will take approximately 2.5 hours one way.