Gallery: Messy mayhem at mud festival

Story highlights

  • Millions of visitors get filthy in Boryeong, South Korea
  • Organizers aim to make mud festival more family friendly this year
  • Everything mud-related goes
  • Festival originally launched to promote cosmetic mud treatments

Call it the world's biggest mud fight or its largest group cosmetic treatment -- either way, millions of visitors are making their way to Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province this week for South Korea's most popular festival.

The 16th annual Boryeong Mud Festival, which kicked off this past weekend and will run until July 28, hopes to beat its record of 3 million participants last year.

Organizers say this year's mud bath is expected to attract 300,000 foreign tourists, up 22,000 from last year. Korean media have reported that trains to Boryeong are already packed with dirt-ready foreigners.

50 greatest summer music festivals

This year's festival

Originally launched to promote the cosmetic benefits of the local mud, the festival has become an annual frenzy in which visitors take part in numerous mud-related activities, including mud wrestling and a mud marathon.

"This year, we amped up the Famiily Zone to meet the demands of people traveling with children," say event organizers. "There are many foreign families traveling to Korea just for the festival."

Local beer company Hite Jinro (maker of the best-selling selling liquor in the world) is throwing a rock festival in Boryeong for the first time this year and hosting K-Pop concerts and "garden beer parties" until August.

How to survive a Korean drinking session

To cater to the tastes of foreign visitors, some area restaurants are being converted into pizza and hamburger joints during the festival to provide dining options beyond traditional hoe-jip (Korean sashimi restaurants) or restaurants selling grilled shellfish.

Boryeong Mud Festival

July 19-28, 2013

1029-3, Sinheuk-dong, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea

Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese travel hotline: +82 2 1330

The world's messiest festivals