If you’re looking to get your rock fix in Korea then check out Incheon’s Pentaport Rock Festival!
An annual event, Pentaport takes place at the end of July or beginning of August every year. The festival is one of the largest live music events in Korea. It is also one of the few dedicated to rock music.
Cost: Tickets for the festival begin at around 100,000KRW | Food and drink can be purchased inside the venue
Time: Late July/early August | Friday-Sunday | 11 am – 2 am
Location: 350, Central-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon | Location
Where to Stay: The November Stay in Canal Walk | Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo
Getting to Pentaport is very easy. Follow Incheon Line 1 to the final stop – International Business District. From there, there are regular shuttle buses operating that can take you to the festival venue.
To get the shuttle bus, exit the station from exit one or two. You will be able to see a tent set up (with some seating in the shade) and some staff. This is the shuttle bus on/off point. Once there, simply line up and wait for the next shuttle bus.
Getting to Pentaport from Seoul is a long trip. From Seoul Station, you can expect to travel for over two hours.
Once you are at Seoul Station take Line 1 (NOT Incheon Line 1. This is the normal dark-blue line 1) towards Incheon. You must take line 1 towards Incheon. There are two different versions of the line. One that goes towards Sinchang, and one that goes towards Incheon.
Take Line 1 (towards Incheon) until you reach Bupyeong. From there, transfer to Incheon Line 1 in the Dongsu direction. Then, just wait until you reach the end of the line!
Travelling from Seoul isn’t ideal. Not only does it take hours to reach Pentaport, but it also means that you are limited by the operating hours of public transport. If you are attending on more than one day, or want to see the later performances (which are usually the best), then consider staying the night close by.
If you do decide to travel back the same night you will have to leave at about 10 pm to get back into Seoul. For this reason, staying the night nearby is a good choice. My picks for accommodation are The November Stay in Canal Walk and the Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo.
When we visited on both Friday and Saturday the festival wasn’t overly crowded and this made it easy to enter. If you don’t receive your ticket before arriving there are many booths where you can receive tickets you have purchased.
There is also a bag check, in which they search for prohibited goods. Goods such as (large) camera gear, over 500ml of liquid, gasses (don’t bring perfume or spray deodorant). The entry area was not busy and this process was very fast and streamlined.
If you are lucky you can even use the beanbags!
The festival has three main stages which will be active throughout the event. However, there are a lot of other places of interest also.
There are a large variety of food stalls that offer all kinds of food – from ttukboeki to fried chicken. While some of the more popular stalls had very large lines, there were also many food choices which had next to no lines.
No rock festival would be complete without drinks, however, and Pentaport is the same. There are many bar stands located all around the venue. These sell beer and other alcoholic beverages. If you would prefer non-alcoholic drinks then there are also some options.
Most of the food stalls also sell drinks, and this year there was tons of free Coca Cola. I am not sure if they only sponsored the 2019 Pentaport Rock Festival. They may not be a usual sponsor, but it meant that there was a lot of free Coca Cola being given away.
There were lots of food options and even a hot air balloon!
On top of this, there is also bug spray available. Since sprays are prohibited on entrance free bug spray is offered within the venue. Considering that the event takes place in summer, this is vital!
On that note, it is also worth mentioning that there are dedicated ‘cool zones’ within the venue. When we were there it reached 37 degrees Celsius. A temperature which is not the most comfortable, to say the least.
Luckily, there was a cool zone bar that you could enter by purchasing a drink. For members with certain tickets, other cool areas can be used throughout the day.
Bathrooms are available throughout the venue and there is plentiful seating. Luckily, there is also a lot of seating in shaded areas and under umbrellas.
Pentaport has three main stages which are alternated through. Two of the stages are relatively small while the main stage has a large open area in front of it. One thing that I did notice is that the festival never felt overcrowded.
Even the festivals that I have visited in New Zealand felt more crowded that Pentaport! That is not a bad thing though.
The main stage was never overly crowded!
Another thing I noticed is that the stages barely overlap with music. With other music festivals that I have attended there is always the issue of ‘should I see X or Y?’. Because there are often simultaneous performances.
Pentaport didn’t overlap performances much, however, and this issue was removed entirely. You can see everything that you want without having to make a sacrifice or compromise.
The line-up usually consists of a few well-known western bands. These are combined with lots of famous Korean artists. Whether you listen to Korean or western music there will probably be at least one group or singer that you recognize.
Since the line-up changes every year, I would recommend checking out the official website to see who will be attending. This year (2019) the most well-known acts were The Fray, Against the Current, Two Door Cinema Club, Steelheart, Weezer and Cornelius.
Every performance lasts 40 minutes to an hour. As with most festivals, the headline acts will often perform last – with The Fray, Weezer and Cornelius starting at around 10 pm. The shorter performance time means that the festival is always moving and exciting.
What to bring
To make the most of your Pentaport visit there are a few things that you should bring.
It is possible to set up tents and blankets (to sit on) in many areas throughout the venue. This includes the main stage area where many people set up tents to watch the performances.
There are a lot of seating options available.
If you have a tent and plan on staying more than a few hours it’s definitely worth considering bringing it. Alternatively, a blanket or something to sit on works great.
Due to the high temperatures and sun, I would also advise bringing an umbrella for some shade. Sunblock (sun cream) is also a MUST.
Bottled water can be purchased inside the venue. Due to the liquid restrictions, it’s hard to bring enough of your own water inside. However, you can bring a bottle and refill it inside.
If you plan to eat/drink throughout the day. I would also recommend bringing at least 50,000KRW (per person).
Visiting Pentaport Rock Festival
Pentaport Rock Festival is one of Korea’s largest live performance festivals – and I can see why. They offer a strong line-up with many famous Korean and western artists.
I was pleasantly surprised by how not-really-really-crowded the venue was. Although I imagine that the festival is still growing (and will continue to grow), it wasn’t overly crowded at any point.
That isn’t to say that it isn’t popular – there were a lot of people! But there is a lot of room inside the venue and it allows the people to spread out.
If you consider yourself a rock fan or just someone who loves festivals, the Pentaport is something that should be on your Radar. Especially if you live in Incheon.
While I think that the festival is still worth visiting if you are in Seoul, definitely look into accommodation nearby. Taking a 2+ hour trip home at 11 pm isn’t that pleasant.
Compared to the other music festivals that I have attended Pentaport was easily comparable. For that reason, I recommend visiting if you are considering it!