I am the manager of Gangneung Tours!
I would like to explain the Gangneung Danoje Festival which was designated as the National Intangible Cultural Property No. 13 and selected as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
With 1000 years of history, the festival ran from Monday, June 3, 2019, to Monday, June 10.
This festival is a millennial festival that continued and survived during the Japanese colonial era and the Korean war.
When Gangneung was an ancient country called Dongye, there was a festival called Mucheon, so people sang and danced for gods and wished them a safe and peaceful year.
It became the root of the Gangneung Danoje Festival and has continued for a thousand years.
May 5 of the lunar calendar is the Dano Day, where the sun rises the highest of the year.
Gangneung Danoje Festival, where gods and humans meet to present a good day, was held on the largest scale
in Namdaecheon Stream in Gangneung for eight days around May 5 of the lunar calendar.
On May 5 of the lunar calendar, this festival begins by brewing rice wine for gods with collected rice.
At the top of Daegwallyeong, this festival holds a memorial service for General Kim Yu-sin, the god of Daegwallyeong.
General Kim Yu-sin came to Gangneung to study abroad when he was young, and he trained in swordsmanship.
After he died, he became the guardian spirit of Daegwallyeong and is still protecting Gangneung and Daegwallyeong.
Then we follow the old road and hold Daegwallyeong Guardian God Festival,
Gusan Festival of the Local God and Haksan Festival of the Local God, and
Daegwallyeong Guardian Goddess Enshrining Festival to hold a memorial service for
the Daegwallyeong Guardian God at Daegwallyeong Guardian Goddess Tutelary Shrine.
To move the Daegwallyeong Guardian God and the Daegwallyeong Guardian Goddess
at the Daegwallyeong Guardian Goddess Tutelary Shrine to the Namdaecheon Shrine,
we hold a memorial service at the Guksaseonghwangsa Shrine located in Hongje-dong (neighborhood).
Then the yeongsin march is held to take the ancestral tablets of
the Daegwallyeong Guardian couple to the Namdaecheon Shrine.
Following the march, the road game performance is held by residents of 21 townships in
Gangneung and is regarded as the essence of Korean road games.
Gangneung Dano Festival Performance is one of the most important attractions of the Gangneung Danoje Festival,
which begins with brewing new rice wine on April 5 of the lunar calendar and takes place in Gangneung.
During the Gangneung Danoje Festival, the Gangneung Dano Festival Performance is held at
the Dano Altar located at the top of Namdaecheon Stream for five days from May 3 of the lunar calendar.
You can enjoy colorful props and performances through the performance.
Gwanno Mask Theater of Gangneung is the only pantomime masque performance in Korea,
where performers only show you dance and movements.
The ferformance features a yangban (nobleman) and gaksi (doll bride), two dancers,
two yangban servants and musicians.
It consists of a story of love, misunderstanding and reconciliation of the yangban and gaksi, with five chapters.
<Tasting Surichui Rice Cake and Dano Rice Wine>
The residents of Gangneung volunteerly present rice for brewing rice wine to pray for the peace of their families.
More than 5,000 households usually participate in the event and the amount of rice gathered reaches 170 bags.
This collected rice is used to make rice cake and wine for the festival.
At the Dano Experience Village, visitors can experience a taste of surichui rice cake and
dano rice wine to prevent disease and disaster in the coming summer.
<Dano Tea Experience: 2,000 won / Tea Ceremony Experience: 5,000 won><drawing of Dano Fan: 3,000 won (smalls size) / 5,000 won (large size)>
<Washing Hair with Water Infused with Sweet Flags: 2,000 won> <Drawing of Slave Mask: 3,000 won>
Visitors can also enjoy various experiences such as tea ceremony, Drawing of Slave Mask,
Washing Hair with Water Infused with Sweet Flags, drawing of dano fan and tasting of dano tea.
It is said that if you wash your hair with water infused with sweet flags,
you can chase bad ghosts so that you won’t get dandruff or skin disease in the wet summer.
The folk games enjoyed in the festival, such as the Korean wrestling competition, the swing competition, and tuho competition, are the best games that everyone can enjoy together.
There were a variety of performances such as invitational performances of intangible cultural assets,
the Gangneung dialect competition and samulnori competition.
A feast of fireworks celebrated the beginning and end of the Gangneung Danoje Festival.
The atmosphere of the festival was even more ripe with the dano lights which beautifully decorated the streets at night.
The fireworks are one of the largest fireworks festivals in Korea and the must-see in the Gangneung Danoje Festival.
On fireworks day, the streets were crowded with Gangneung residents.
The Gangneung Danoje Street Market is Korea’s largest street market,
and it is a must-visit course in Gangneung Danoje Festival because there were many folk arts and
regional products from home and abroad.
The market also offers a variety of easy-to-eat foods that you can enjoy while walking around the market.
[Source] Instagram @mugeummm
The market serves visitors with a lot of delicious foods such as seasoned acorn jelly salad and potato pancake,
which are local foods of Gwangwon-do Province.
At the end of the festival there is a ritual to bring the guardians back to the mountain.
Shamans perform a 40-day ritual for the gods and finished the festival by burning all ritual items.
Gangneung people held a festival of joy on a happy day and a festival of comfort on a sad day.
Gangneung Danoje Festival has been around for 1000 years with the lives of the people.
Gangneung Danoje Festival was selected as a UNESCO Humanity Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005
for the first time in Korean festivals, with the review that “It is a miracle that such a festival still remains.”
@Gangneung Danoje Festival Website
@Gangneung Danoje Festival Instagram
Thousands of people come Gangneung for this early summer festival, Danoje to see Korean traditional rituals and events close to every year.
Danoje is one of the biggest festivals in Korea, which is organized by the local government and residents together and participants are from all around the world.
The festival features Korean traditional ceremonies, parades, musical performances, martial arts performances and other entertainments around Namdaecheon. A variety of food and craft vendors also is on hand.
Mostly performances are free.
Ssireum, Korean wrestling also was highlighted at the festival. Mongol wrestling was demonstrated as well.
We could see how different two wrestling games were.
In the festival ‘Mukbang’ can’t be missed.
From Gangneung’s traditional food such to global food, Danoje is as much as a food festival.
Visitors could taste the Gangneung’s rice cake, surichuitteok
and changpo makgeolli free as much as they wanted.
The funny yeot vendor now became a star of Danoje.
Korean traditional swing was thrilling.
Experience and feel it like the locals at Danoje!
Danoje Festival was held in Namdaecheon area, Gangneung, from May 27 to June 3, 2017.
Gangneung Danoje is the oldest Korean traditional festival and its large scale is remarkable.
This festival originated from the custom that the ancestors wished for the rich harvest holding rites right before summer begun. Also various rites were held to wish health and to exorcise ghosts or illness during Danoje.
Because we had learned about Danoje only by textbooks,
we were thrilled when planning to experience the festival in reality.
Although summer didn’t start yet, the weather was much closer to summer.
The festival sites along both sides of the river caught our eyes first when we arrived in Namdaecheon.
We could estimate the scale of the festival watching that stands were lined up endlessly and people crowded.
It was the true largest Korean festival.
Danomun(Dano Gate) welcomed us first when we entered the festival venue.
The entrance gate leads to Dano Park and Dano Culture Center.
Various activities went on here too.
To the left from Danomun, was a line of stands for various experiences such as washing hair with changpo(sweet flags) infused water, eating suriddeok, drawing on a fan, painting on a mask, tea ceremony, etc.
The charges were very cheap at 1,000 won to 5,000 won.
The most eye-catching one was washing hair with changpo water.
When it comes to ‘Dano’, it reminds most Korean people of this ceremony first.
We felt like getting cool just watching people got their hair washed in the hot day.
The ancestors believed changpo drove away misfortune and illness.
Until now washing hair with changpo water is the representative ceremony of Dano Day.
Originally Dano Day was one of the biggest national holidays to pray for the rich harvest long time ago.
Each household made suriddeok or ssukddeok and a bunch of delicious food and held the ancestral rite.
The table was set mostly with health food to overcome the upcoming heating summer or ssuk(mugwort) food to drive away bad luck.
We could experience the activities related to the custom above-mentioned like tasting ssukddeok and making surichuiddeok with patterns at the festival site.
Besides, there were many activities like tea ceremony, making a Dano fan, painting on a mask, etc. And visitors could try to wear Hanbok and go around the festival sites.
We looked around the festival sites slowly,
and it was the most interesting that many families participated in various activities with their children.
Gangneung Danoje offers opportunities to learn about Korean traditional culture in fun ways,
perhaps which is the key to make the festival passed down through generations well.
At Danojang, the festival site, visitors could watch various performances like the Korean traditional masque, ssireum(Korean wrestling) and modern Dongchun circus as well.
The site was the site for the past and the present being together.
Another attraction at Danojang is the nanjang(the temporary open market for non-permanent vendors).
Danoje’s nanjang is famous for its huge scale.
Lots and lots of selling stands lined up endlessly and amusement facilities for kids were there too.
We could not find only familiar food like pajeon, yukgaejang, twisted donuts but also unique food uncommon these days. Grilled quail, pumpkin yeot cut by the seller on the spot, beondegi(silkworm), those food seemed like to give novelty to young people and memories to old people.
Dano’s nanjang was the place having plenty of entertainment and food for people of all ages.
In the age when transportation wasn’t developed, Dano Day was one of the biggest festival days,
so people from all around the country gathered around the place with all kinds of products.
It was the biggest open market day of the year and all the things were traded there.
Now you can get products easily at modern markets and stores, however in the past time this market was the very important place for common people to buy and sell necessities.
Nowadays you can meet products and culture experience from various countries at Danojang
After looking around all the corners of Danojang,
we crossed Changpogyo(Changpo Bridge) to see Sintongdaegil Parade,
being impressed with the festival sight spread out far away.
Here and there were the slogans to wish for success of 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Gangneung is in the world’s spotlight as the venue of the Olympic ice sports.
I expect it will lead much more people to get interested in Korean historic cultural events like Danoje.
It can be said surely Sintongdaegil Parade is the highlight of Danoje.
The parade of citizens from 21 regions in Gangneung was followed by Youngsin procession.
They marched with specialties and mascots representative of the regions.
All the generations and classes of Gangneung participated actively in and supported the parade,
and enjoyed the whole process.
It was really impressive and moving that all worked together in harmony to continue the tradition.
In this era when community spirit and regional sympathies, meaning ‘we’, are disappearing, the 2 hours parade,
the residents made voluntarily, can be an overwhelming experience to all.
I’d like to recommend seeing Gangneung Danoje to people never heard about it.
It would be a new experience for them.
Old local festivals can be considered boring and difficult, however Danoje where we visited first hand, was full of interesting contents. Attractions, food, entertainment, everything was good in the festival.
Gangneung Danoje is an old custom originated from the Korean folk’s ritual, but not insisting only on old styles.
It will keep developing in harmonies of inherited old tradition and modern culture.
The most impressive thing was cooperation of the local communities.
Every citizen was the master and participant of the festival.
Most of people have forgotten the value of communalism, but they are keeping on going with it, which is the true meaning of Gangneung Danoje.