When it comes to culture, Ulsan is somewhat lacking. Luckily, it’s nestled between traditional Gyeongju that offers a glimpse into Korea’s past, and modern, multi-cultural Busan. Both cities are only a short train ride away, allowing Ulsanites to fulfill their cultural quota. However, every October Ulsan hosts an international music festival which compensates for what can be a very dry city.
The festival descended on the city this year during a three day weekend, so events started on the Thursday evening and spanned through to Sunday. There is no entry fee, and you have access to three stages playing a variety of music from around the world. Alongside some mini stages which offer traditional Korean performances, including dancing and poetry. Also, there is an array of arts and crafts stalls, and international food tents from multiple countries prepared by natives. The diversity of the cuisine was like taking a tour of world flavours alongside the music.
The combination of so many different bands from around the world meant that there was a real richness to the music. One band might be a European gypsy band closely followed by a Chinese rock band. These alternative sounds might be considered to clash with one another; however, the contrast in sounds only intensified each artist’s flair and finesse.
The festival lures such an assorted crowd, that it is not uncommon to be dancing with a Korean family one minute and a Russian rock star the next. There is a friendly vibe that makes the weekend perfect for a family outing. Also, all the bars in the area cater for before and after parties. If you’re ever in Ulsan, I highly recommend the weekend of Cheoyong.