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SEOUL — Hope is in sight. Despite last week’s cold snap, the yellow forsythia blooms have arrived and the purple magnolia flowers are ready to follow.

And, in the next few days, millions of cherry blossoms all over South Korea will open in a flourish of spring.

The blooms also mark a time when thousands of South Koreans seek out their favorite outdoor spot to eat, drink and enjoy the end of winter.

Chinhae, a southern port city hosting Chinhae Naval Base, holds the biggest cherry blossom festival. The celebration there started over the weekend and goes through April 9. In Seoul, the blooms are expected to come about April 8 and will remain until April 15.

Here’s a look as some opportunities in Chinhae and Seoul to enjoy the cherry blossom season:

The Chinhae Cherry Blossom FestivalMarch 31–April 9

The celebration started as a memorial in 1952 to remember Admiral Yi Sun-shin, a 16th-century Korean military leader. The community added the cherry blossoms celebration about 10 years later. The festival offers all the normal fun — music, street vendors, performances — plus an air show, a photo contest and a parade that includes a 600-person South Korean Marine band. Yeojwacheon Bridge is considered one of the best sites for viewing the cherry blossoms. The more adventurous may opt for a 10.5-mile mountain path that includes views of Mount Jangbok, Anmin Ridge, Siru Peak and Cheonja Peak. It’s the best way to see Chinhae’s 300,000 cherry trees.

Getting there:From Seoul to Chinhae Naval Base: Trains run from Seoul Station five times a day and cost about $25 to $35 per ticket. Drivers can take Highway 1 south to Daejon, then Highway 35 south to Jinju. Next, take Highway 10 to Masan. Take the West Masan exit and drive about 15 minutes to Chinhae. Stay in the middle lane and cross the bridge. After the bridge, turn right at Rocket Circle. After driving through a tunnel, take an immediate right. Down the hill is Chinhae Naval Base. From Chinhae Naval Base: Go out the gate and turn right. At Admiral Yi Circle, pass the first two streets on the left, then turn left on the third. Go three or four blocks and you’ll run into the main festival area.

Changgyeonggung PalaceThis site is the only palace in Seoul that is flanked with cherry trees. Construction is under way to replace the trees, so many think this may be the last year to enjoy the blooms.

Getting there: Take subway Line No. 4 to Haehwa Station. Take exit No. 4 and walk through the grounds of Seoul National University Hospital (about 10 minutes).

Palace hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays. The palace is closed on Tuesdays.

Admission: 1,000 won (about $1).

Children’s Grand ParkThis park in Seoul has 1,200 cherry trees — many of them 40 to 50 years old — complemented with light luminaries at night. The celebration lasts through May 29.

Getting there: Take subway Line No. 7 to Children’s Grand Park Subway Station.

Namsan ParkThe park on Namsan Mountain, just outside Yongsan Garrison and the Itaewon neighborhood, is awash with cherry trees. The road leading up to Seoul Tower is closed when the blossoms are in full swing; the walk to the top takes about 90 minutes.

Getting there: The park is adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel, so the easiest way is to take a taxi to the Hyatt.

Seokchon LakeSeokchon Lake in Seoul is the sight of Lotte World’s Cherry Blossom festival in mid-April. Actors dress as flowers and butterflies during a Flower Festa Parade and more than 100 musicians participate.

Getting there: Take subway Line No. 8 or Line No. 2 to Jamsil station.

Seoul LandSeoul Land, a private amusement park, began its festival season March 26. This year, more than 1 million tulips, pansies and daisies will bloom along “Tulip Street” inside the park.

Getting there: Take subway Line No. 4 to Exit 2 to Seoul Grand Park Station.

Sip-ri Cherry Blossom RoadThis view just takes subway fare. The railway section from Siheung Station to Garibong Station on Seoul’s Line No. 1 is lined with trees for about three miles.

Getting there: Take Line No. 1 between Siheung and Garibong stations.

Walkerhill RoadThe 1.5-kilometer road from Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel to Gwangjang-dong also is famous for its splendid view of cherry blossoms in Seoul. Called “Walkerhill Road,” it is connected to Gwangjang Ecological Park.

Getting there: Take subway Line No.2 to Gangbyeon subway station, exit 1.

Yeouido Yunjungno Cherry Blossom FestivalThe biggest cherry blossom celebration in Seoul, this year’s festival is scheduled for April 8-15. Yeoudio Park offers good picnicking spots, but expect it to be crowded, especially on the weekend. The Yunjung Road behind the National Assembly building is lined for almost four miles with trees, some which are 30 to 40 years old. In the evening the street is illuminated, and at night the city launches fireworks to celebrate spring. Face painting, food vendors, folk music, caricature artists, Taekwondo performances and other musical performances fill out the fun.

Getting there: Take subway Line No. 5, Yeouinaru Station. Take exit 1 to go to Yeouinaru. Or take Line No. 5 to Yeouido Station and take exit 2 toward the National Assembly building.


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