The Boryeong Mud Festival, or Mudfest as it is commonly called, is one of the biggest festivals in Korea, attracting around 1.5 million people during the 2 weeks it runs. It is held on the west coast of Korea at Daecheon beach in Chungcheongnam Province. It is by far the most popular festival amongst foreigners living and traveling within the country as people look forward to a weekend of muddy shenanigans. Read below and check out our video from Mudfest 2011 to see what the festival was like for us.
Tristan and I were slightly concerned about attending mudfest because of the influx of foreigners at a festival that really doesn’t highlight Korean culture, only the benefits of mud as a beauty product. But even at that it’s generally thought of as a giant party in the mud with thousands of drunken westerners…sounds awesome but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But the appeal of getting down and muddy with a group of our friends, only weeks away from our departure date, still lured us to the festival. And let me tell you, we had one hell of a muddy good time.
We arrived at the festival grounds on opening weekend around 1pm and the place was rammed. It was a sea of people everywhere you looked. Tents were set up along the perimeter offering information, tickets, mud products and coloured mud painting. A separate tent section served as a food court, and a giant inflatable play area was positioned in the middle of all the action. Keeping tabs on each other throughout the day was going to be quite the challenge for us.
In the past this festival was free for foreigners, but this year the organizers decided to change things up and charge 5,000won (roughly $5) to enter the inflatable play area. It wasn’t a large sum of money but the line-ups were extremely long just for a chance to wrestling in the mud with strangers or zip down a mud-covered slide. There were rumours of free mud being passed through the crowds. “Free mud?!” Yeah we were excited about this prospect, forgetting that the weeks of rain we had already endured produced free mud just about anywhere we looked. But off to find the ‘free mud’ we went.
We did eventually find it but it was rather underwhelming. Crowds of people were gathered around what looked like a large water fountain painting themselves with watered down mud. We dove right in, painting each other and flinging the mud around. We were all in great spirits and were making the best of the event. But once we were covered in mud we were left thinking “now what?”
A few of us did eventually make our way into the inflatable play area and snuck our way to the front of the line for a bit of mud wrestling. (Sorry to those folks who were patiently waiting in line…) It was basically a giant kiddy pool filled with muddy water, and like cattle we were herded in and let loose to wrestle and get tangled with each other. Who knew slipping and sliding in a pool of mud with a bunch of strangers could be so much fun?! But it was extremely enjoyable. If you looked too “clean” you were ripe for the picking. No one was safe in the kiddy pool.
The mud festival was set up right beside Daecheon beach, the perfect spot to be able to jump into the ocean to wash all that mud off. And this was probably one of the best parts of the festival. By the afternoon the sun had decided to (finally!) come out and there seemed to be more people packed onto the beach and in the water than there were enjoying the mud activities.
The festivities continued into the night with a fireworks show and bars serving drinks well into the wee hours of the morning. But our group had exhausted themselves throughout the day and were passing out by 11pm. Ha! I suppose the sun, playing around in mud, and drinking since noon will do that to you.
All in all we had an incredible time. We really enjoyed just letting loose and hanging out with both our friends and strangers along the way. The festival actually could have been a lot muddier (a large open mud pit would have probably entertained most of us), and a popular DJ spinning beats on the beach would have elevated the festival to another party level. But getting down and dirty and washing it away in the ocean was just what we all needed for a fun-filled weekend.
What you need to know: Mudfest 2013 runs from July 19 – 28. Make sure to wear clothing you don’t mind getting muddy and/or ruined. Keep your belongings to the bare minimum (cash, camera, portable drinks) and keep the important ones in a water tight bag. There is food available for purchase, but eat a filling meal before you arrive. The best part? You can bring your own alcohol! Remember to apply sunscreen beforehand and keep hydrated.