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10 Fun Philippine Festivals

You Wont Want To Miss


Its a known fact that Filipinos everywhere in the world love to celebrate and get
together. Just take a look at this long list of festivals in the Philippines. With that
being just a partial list, we wouldnt be surprised if theres at least one fiesta or
festival in a town somewhere in the country on any given day of the year.
Lasting anywhere between a day to an entire month, Philippine festivals are huge
cultural celebrations that attract both local and foreign tourists due to its colorful
and festive nature.

Because of Spains Catholic influence dating back to the mid-1500s, most of these
festivals are usually religious in nature while others are meant to commemorate
important events in history. Either way, attending a Philippine festival is definitely
something you have to experience at least once.
Since theres usually a festival going on each month, timing isnt going to be a
problem. If youre looking for Philippine festivals to attend, heres a chronological list
of 10 popular ones to give you an idea of which ones to visit.

Ati-Atihan Festival
3rd weekend of January | Kalibo, Aklan
This Sto. Nio festival started it all. One of the oldest religious celebrations in the
country, Ati-Atihan is characterized by a parade filled with face-painted celebrants,
indigenous costumes and weapons, tribal dances, and loud drumbeats.

Tourists who flock to Kalibo for the festivities are free to cover themselves in black
soot and dance on the streets with the drum beats. Known as the The Filipino Mardi
Gras, it is truly an experience not to be missed.
Sinulog Festival
3rd weekend of January | Cebu City
Cebu also has its own version of the festival in honor of the Sto. Nio. If you find
yourself attending the Sinulog Festival, Pit Seor! is a phrase you will hear a lot. It
means Panangpit sa Seor, a Cebuano phrase that means to plead to the Seor
Santo Nio.

It is one of the most attended festivals in the Philippines, attracting millions of locals
and tourists from all over the world. In 2013, it was reported that the number of
participants reached a whopping four million.

Sinulog not only sets the stage for Cebuano talents but also for other regional acts
as contingents from neighboring provinces are showcased through street dancing,
pageantry, and sports. It is also known for hosting the countrys biggest raves,
drawing a growing number of party-goers from all over the country year after year.

Dinagyang Festival
4th weekend of January | Iloilo City

If you happen to know someone from Iloilo, try and ask them about this Philippine
festival. Youll see how their pride for their citys festival is nothing short of
astounding.
Once a year, Iloilo City transforms into one big street party streets closed, bands
in all corners, overflowing food and drinks, and towering boom boxes. To cap it all
off, tribes representing different barangays and high schools perform in one very
competitive street dancing contest.
Its no wonder how this citys once simple celebration in honor of the child Jesus
(Sto. Nio) ended up bagging several awards including the Association of Tourism
Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) title holder for Best Tourism Event of the
Philippines.

According to Iloilo City Tourism Officer Ben Jimena, the winning tribes are now going
international and will be promoting Philippine tourism to countries like the United
States, Canada, and Singapore.

Panagbenga Festival
February | Baguio City

The word Panagbenga comes from the Kankanaey term that means season of
blooming. With the numerous parades of floral floats and children dressed as flora
and fauna, it definitely lives up to its name, making Baguio the perfect destination
for those who still have a hangover from the huge festivals in January.
Adding to the usual Baguio tourist sites to visit, the whole length of the Session
Road during Panagbenga becomes a feast for the eyes. Called Session Road in
Bloom, Baguios famous street is closed to vehicular traffic to make way for flower
carts, street dancing, and outdoor cafes.

Now that its a huge event bringing in thousands of tourists each year, its important
to plan ahead (make early restaurant reservations, bring a map, etc.) if you are
attending this Philippine festival.

Moriones Festival
Holy Week | Boac, Gasan, and Mogpog, Marinduque

This week-long celebration of the life of St. Longinus is what makes Marinduque one
of the top destinations during Holy Week in the Philippines. Morion is the helmet
worn by the centurions while Moriones refers to the costumed penitents reenacting
the search for St. Longinus, hunted by his fellow centurions for converting to
Christianity.

During the festival you will see Marinduqueos dressed up as centurions (Moriones)
looking for Longinus. One person acts as Longinus, hiding from them while the
townspeople play along and allow him to hide in their houses. Via Crucis or the
reenactment of the Passion of Christ also happens during this Philippine festival.

Aliwan Fiesta
Last weekend of April | Pasay City, Manila

Aliwan Fiesta is more of a competition than it is a festival. However, it has


undeniably added great value to the growing interest in Philippine festivals.
Although it just started in the early 2000s, it has already gained a strong fan-base
nationwide with more than 5,000 young men and women from all over the country
joining the competition.

For a lot of people who are in Manila, heading to the CCP Complex is the cheapest
way to see quality performances from tribes representing festivals in their
respective provinces. Plus, its always great to see tribes from Dinagyang and
Sinulog give their A-performances to grab the million-peso grand prize.

Pahiyas Festival
15th of May | Lucban, Quezon
One of the Philippines most colorful harvest festival, May 15th marks that time of
the year when people in Lucban decorate their houses with different-colored
produces in an almost competitive manner.
Its not uncommon to see singakamas (turnip), talong (eggplant), sigarilyas (winged
bean) and all the other vegetables and fruits mentioned in the Bahay
Kubo song hanging on the exteriors of their homes. You can actually bring a basket
and pick the produce from the walls for free.

Pintados Festival
29th of June | Tacloban City

Pintados is another festival in honor of the Sto. Nio (yes, this is the 4th of its kind in
the list). It just goes to show how Filipinos want to be reminded to be childlike in
their ways and to place hope in their children.

This festival has been growing in popularity because of the contingents they send to
the Aliwan Fiesta every year. They dont fail to amaze. Leyte is also the home base
of other festivals like Alikaraw, Pasaka, and the 2009 Aliwan Fiesta champions,
Buyogan.

Kadayawan Festival
3rd week of August | Davao City

Kadayawan comes from the Dabawenyo word madayaw, a friendly greeting which
means good or beautiful. Probably the biggest festival in Mindanao, Kadayawan has
everything all other festivals have: street dancing, beauty pageants, fireworks
displays, floral floats.
It is a celebration of Davaos as well as the rest of Mindanaos abundance;
showcasing flowers, fruits, and other produces that abound the countrys second
largest island. Just two years ago, they even introduced a week-long street food
fiesta in Freedom Park, Roxas Avenue called Kaan sa Dan.

MassKara Festival
19th of October | Bacolod City

Colorful masks, street dancing, electrical displays and best of all the
sweet smiles of Bacoleas! What more could you ask for?
MassKara is a combination of the words mass which means crowd and
kara which means face. You will see participants wearing smiling
masks signifying a multitude of smiling faces, solidifying Bacolods title as
the City of Smiles.

Like Sinulog, it is also swarmed by the younger party crowd as it is


conveniently scheduled during the semester break.

There are still a lot of Philippine festivals not mentioned in this list. The
next time you book a flight, you might want to consider scheduling it
during that destinations festival dates.