The Korea Herald


[Well-curated] Embrace the holiday spirit with lights, concerts and a Christmas market

By Park Yuna, Hwang Dong-hee, Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Dec. 8, 2023 - 09:10

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Shinsegae Department Store's Christmas-themed lights display is seen in Jung-gu, central Seoul, Nov. 28. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) Shinsegae Department Store's Christmas-themed lights display is seen in Jung-gu, central Seoul, Nov. 28. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Christmas-themed media facade in Myeong-dong

Shinsegae Department Store in Myeong-dong, Seoul, has become a must-visit Christmas spot in the city. The building’s facade has been transformed into a splendid Christmas lights display with the theme of “Magical Winter Fantasy.”

Once the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the 1930s during the Japanese colonial era, the building holds historical significance, and started to grab attention a couple of years ago during the holiday season for its three-minute holiday-themed media work.

The media display and lights show can be viewed from standing outside, where you can enjoy the accompanying music. Alternatively, there is a Starbucks right across from the building where you can enjoy the view from the second floor of the cafe.

Only a few minutes’ walk from Shinsegae's media show is the Lotte Department Store with its Christmas decorations under the theme of “My Dearest Wish.” Passersby can enjoy the Christmas-themed decorations and take photos next to a large Christmas tree.

Visitors to the area can enjoy a variety of street foods such as grilled shrimp, steak, marinated fried chicken and hotteok, a Korean pancake, while walking toward Myeongdong Cathedral, which was founded in 1898. The cathedral is also decorated with Christmas lights and glowing white roses. For a great view of the cathedral, visit the Moto cafe.

A Christmas tree at the Starfield Library in Coex, Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul (Shinsegae Property) A Christmas tree at the Starfield Library in Coex, Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul (Shinsegae Property)

Christmas concerts at Starfield Library

Every year, the Starfield Library at Coex in southern Seoul illuminates its massive 11-meter Christmas tree. This year, the golden luminescence sets the stage for an artful display on the library's expansive bookshelves, featuring a media art show every 15 minutes starting at 6 p.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays, there is a break from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Adding to the festive atmosphere, a series of concerts is lined up for a year-end celebration.

On Friday at 8 p.m., the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is set to perform a Christmas concert, featuring a special collaboration with Wendy from the K-pop girl group Red Velvet.

Under the baton of David Lee, the SPO will start the concert with Leroy Anderson's "A Christmas Festival" and take the audience through a medley of festive Christmas carols. Wendy will sing three songs, including minGtion’s "When This Rain Stops," Hugh Martin's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and David Foster's "My Grown-Up Christmas List."

No reservations are required and admission is free. The SPO will also live-stream the event on its YouTube channel.

There will be a special lecture series every Friday this month at the library, including lectures with culture psychology professor Han Seong-yeul of Korea University, renowned avant-garde dancer Hong Shin-ja and multicultural educator Min Byoung-chul.

On Dec. 23, soprano Shin Della will take to the stage for a Christmas concert. The Starfield Library has even more in store for Dec. 24-25. Check out its official Instagram page for a detailed schedule.

Lotte Department Store's Christmas Market (Lotte Department Store) Lotte Department Store's Christmas Market (Lotte Department Store)

European Christmas street fair at Jamsil

For those wishing to revel in a festive Christmas atmosphere and feel as if you are walking around street fairs in Europe during the advent season, Christmas Market and its nearby facilities in front of the Lotte World Mall in Songpa-gu, southern Seoul, is the place to go.

A 7-meter-tall glass house decorated with 60,000 lights, the Christmas Market sells some 2,000 Christmas items such as tableware, wine, accessories, nutcrackers, music boxes and various desserts, from 25 brands.

Check out Kathe Wohlfahrt, a globally renowned brand that specializes in handcrafted German Christmas tree ornaments and other holiday items.

Paid online reservations are required to enter the Christmas Market, although free on-site reservations are also available on a first-come-first-served basis.

There are even more eye-catching holiday-festive facilities that make for great photo spots outside the Christmas Market, including a carousel and a 19-meter Christmas tree. The open space is also lined with small stands selling food such as vin chaud and German sausages.

The Christmas Market is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Dec. 25.