Wordtravels

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Andong Mask Dance Festival

A true highlight of the Korean cultural calendar, the Andong Mask Dance Festival is one of the most authentic celebrations of Korea's proud heritage you'll find anywhere in the country. Taking place in and around Hahoe Folk Village - a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves what little of traditional Korean archictecture remains these days, with tiled-roof aristocratic houses and thatched-roof servants' quarters - the Mask Dance Festival celebrates a folk tradition that has its origins in mysticism, but later became a way for artists to anonymously criticise the aristocracy. Although various cultures are represented at the Mask Dance Festival, the crowd saves its fervour for the Korean routines, where casts of traditional masked characters perform folk stories that are greeted with delighted cheers from the spectators. The Andong masks - which come in nine different variations, each one representing a different character from the folk canon - are exquisitely crafted and can show different emotions depending on how they are titled; and they make excellent souvenirs for loved ones back home. A highly recommended event in Korea, the Andong Mask Dance Festival is the perfect choice for a weekend spent appreciating the nation's cultural roots.

Venue: Hahoe Folk Village, Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province

Date: 26 September to 5 October 2014