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Seoul will celebrate Buddha’s birthday this weekend with the colorful Lotus Lantern Festival, one of the country’s biggest cultural events of the year.

The festival will be held downtown, with most events centered in the traditional arts and restaurant district of Insadong and culminating in a parade Sunday night.

About 500,000 people are expected to attend the event in Seoul, in addition to other celebrations across the country, festival spokeswoman Kang Moon-jung said.

The national holiday celebrating Buddha’s birthday more than 2,500 years ago is May 2. The date is based on the lunar calendar, and changes every year.

About 50,000 people will participate Sunday night in the Lotus Lantern parade, the largest parade of lanterns in the world, Kang said. Preparations for costumes, dancing and lanterns that will be featured in Sunday’s parade began as early as October, she said.

The parade begins at 7 p.m. at Dongdaemun Stadium and ends about 9:30 p.m. in front of Jogyesa Temple in Insadong.

Other events include:

A parade through Insadong on Saturday, 7-9 p.m. To get there, take subway line 1 and exit at Jonggak Station or line 3 and exit at Anguk Station.Traditional lantern exhibit, ongoing through May 5 at Bongeunsa Temple in Samseongdong. Take subway line 2 and exit at Samseong Station.A Buddhist street festival in Insadong on Sunday from noon to 7 p.m., featuring temple food, song and dance performances, lantern making, and traditional games.Visit www.llf.or.kr for more information.

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