Busan hosts an incredible number of festivals, and many of them are quite incredibly bad – those dedicated to anchovy-rubbing or egg-rolling might sound comical, but they’re really not worth the effort. However, there are a number of good ones – the most popular is BIFF, the Busan International Film Festival (, which takes place over a week or so each October. One of the biggest such events in Asia, it draws the cream of the continent’s talent, and has recently expanded its scope to please non-mainstreamers too. Most of the action takes place around Nampodong and Haeundae, with the latter a great place to star-spot – you could even find yourself pitching ideas to a director over soju. Also interesting are the Busan Biennale (, a festival of contemporary art that takes place on even-numbered years, though in seemingly random months, and the International Rock Festival (, which takes place in early August on Dadaepo Beach. The Polar Bear Swim Contest sees participants splash through the cold Haeundae waters each January, and is followed by the Straw-Heap Burning Festival, an event that does what it says, ostensibly to ward off evil. Worth mentioning for the name alone is the Mass-Media Cutting-Edge Marine Fireworks Festival, an event that sees things go bang over Gwangalli Beach each November.

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