One of the surprising aspects of North Korea is the amount of public holidays and festivals it holds throughout the year. There are 71 in total! That’s more than most countries. Here is our brief list on the major North Korea holidays and celebrations taking place in the DPRK throughout the year that’s well worth checking out and may involve mass dance, fireworks, military parades, Mass Games, and more.
New Year’s Day (1st January)
Of course starting with the obvious, New Year’s Day. This is a huge and special event for the North Koreans. Whilst their neighbours such as South Korea and China put more effort into celebrating Lunar New Year, New Year’s Day starts with a bang! Crowds and YPT tourists gather in Kim Il Sung Square to watch a live performance from the famous Moranbong Band, ice and snow sculptures from local artists and fireworks.
Seollal Festival – North Korea New Year’s (12th February)
Whilst being a bigger deal in South Korea, North Koreans tend to celebrate this holiday at home with family and friends. This holiday is the same time as Spring Festival in China which can be a nightmare for those wanting to travel around China and else where in Asia. So why not make the most of it and head to North Korea to escape the crowds.
Kim Jong Il’s Birthday – Day of the Shining Star (16th February)
Considered a very important holiday to the local North Koreans and perhaps the second most important of the North Korea holidays. The Day of the Shining Star as it’s known marks the birthday of Kim Jong-Il. Despite the cold weather mass dances are held and fireworks scheduled on special anniversaries.
Kim Il Sung’s Birthday – Day of the Sun (15th April)
By far the biggest and most important of NOrth KOrea holidays – the Day of the Sun celebrates the birthday of the eternal President Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea. Held during mid April – the weather is a lot warmer and encourages locals to go out for picnics and BBQs. A perfect opportunity to mingle and celebrate with the locals.
Military Foundation Day (25th April)
Military Foundation Day, also known as Army Day, marks the founding of the Korean Peoples Army (KPA). Mass dances are held and larger celebrations take place during special anniversaries.
May Day (1st May)
International Worker’s Day is celebrated across the globe and is regarded as a very special day for the North Koreans. For our May Day tours we arrange our visits to Mt. Taeson for a chance for you to join in on the locals competing in games, sports matches, or riding the funfair attractions.
Children’s Day (1st June)
This event takes place in Mangyongdae Funfair where parents, schools and students gather to compete in games and activities. This North Korea holiday is also celebrated in China.
Victory Day (27th July)
This holiday celebrates thee ending of the Korean War in 1953. The North Koreans consider this day Victory Day or Victorious Fatherland Liberation Day. You can count on military parades taking place during certain anniversaries and a special visit the Korean War Museum in Pyongyang.
Liberation Day (15th August)
This national holiday marks the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea and is considered to be one of the biggest holidays of the year. The weather is great, which is the perfect time to hit up the beach.
Day of Songun ( 25th August)
This holiday celebrates the Songun Ideology of Kim Jong Il which translates to Military First. Not a major holiday, but much less busy than other holidays and a good time to be in North Korea.
North Korea National Day (9th September)
This celebrates the formation of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in 1948. Another spectacular celebration to bear witness and to partake.
Party Foundation Day (10th October)
This celebrates the founding of the Workers Party of Korea and is another major holiday in the country.
Mother’s Day (14th November)
Definitely not a major holiday in the country, but one considered very special to the North Koreans.
Missile Industry Day (November 18th)
A brand new one fresh of the shelf in 2023. No one quite knows what delights this one may hold yet, or indeed how important it is as a holiday, but it celebrates the first successful of the North’s most powerful nuclear rocket. We have not planned a tour for it, yet anyway.
Constitution Day (27th December)
Celebrates the formation of the very first constitution of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. You can catch this holiday on our Christmas in Pyongyang tour which is definitely not considered a holiday to the North Koreans, but that doesn’t mean they’re not curious.