SEOUL, May 10 (Yonhap) — The Royal Culture Festival, the country’s largest festival themed around the Korean royal court and its culture, will return to nearly normal on Tuesday after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic. .

This year’s event will kick off its spring season with an in-person ceremony at 8 p.m. in the plaza outside Heungnyemun Gate of Gyeongbok Palace, which served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), in central Seoul. . .

Founded in 2015, the event organized by the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) and its affiliate Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation has been held twice a year – in May and October – at Seoul’s five Joseon-era palaces. – Gyeongbok, Changdeok, Changgyeong, Deoksu and Gyeonghui — plus two other royal sites. The festival, however, has been held virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spring edition, scheduled to last until May 22, features a total of 49 programs that will take place in person and online.

During the festival period, the palaces will remain open without closing on Mondays as they usually do while entrance to Gyeongbok Palace will be free. Deoksu Palace and Changgyeong Palace will remain open until 9 p.m. for night tours.

In addition to the regular festival venues, this year’s editions will also take place at the compound of Cheong Wa Dae, which was officially the “back garden” of Gyeongbok Palace, for the first time in its history, as the compound was fully opened to the public with the start of the new government earlier today.

The opening ceremony is themed around Joseon-era rituals performed before the start of the new year to cast out evil spirits and festivities to provide hope for overcoming the pandemic and returning to normal daily routines, according to the organizers.

There will be performances of a traditional Korean dance and music show created through a contemporary reinterpretation of these rituals, a creative musical theater piece, and a multimedia show themed around the history of Gyeongbok Palace, during the ceremony.

The ceremony will also be streamed live on a YouTube channel jointly operated by the CHA and the heritage foundation.