|The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual festival held in December in the City of San Fernando|
The Philippines has over a hundred special holidays and celebrations, but we’ve rounded up the best festivals that you wouldn’t want to miss!
1. Ati-atihan Festival
Ati-atihan Festival in Aklan is one of the most famous celebrations in the Philippines. If you happen to be traveling to Boracay Islands in January, make sure to include Ati Atihan Festival in your itinerary. That way, you can experience a unique street party that you can only find here.
Every third Sunday of the month, the locals celebrate their town’s indigenous people by wearing colorful headdresses and putting on dark paint on their faces and bodies. It’s an iconic sight for Filipinos.
Even though it’s almost simultaneous with Cebu’s Sinulog Festival and Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival, which are both in honor of the Santo Nino, Ati-Atihan is not in any way related to religion. Indigenous tribes are what makes this festival unique and relevant.
2. Dinagyang Festival
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo is celebrated to honor Santo Nino, an image of the child Jesus. Celebrations for Santo Nino are observed everywhere in the Philippines during the third and fourth Sunday of January. But each has different localized gimmicks and parties.
For the Ilonggos (natives of Iloilo), they go the extra mile preparing for their grandest street party with overflowing booze and street food. All while enjoying the grand parade where costume-wearing natives sashay along the streets, dancing and exciting everyone up.
Locals and tourists highly attend it. So expect massive crowds and extreme merrymaking during this time of year on this beautiful island.
3. Kadayawan Festival
The Kadayawan Festival in Davao is also one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines. It is held in celebration of the abundant harvest during that season. Locals believe that the festival is a way to pay tribute to the gods. Thus, they perform rituals that will send their message across.
More than anything else, the Kadayawan Festival is a way of saying thanks to the bountiful year that was. The festivity’s overall aesthetic involves fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, and other crops that you can harvest. It happens every third week of August and usually lasts for a week.
4. Panagbenga Festival
If you’re a flower freak, the Panagbenga Festival is the perfect celebration that you should experience in your lifetime. Because of the cold weather in the mountains, Baguio is the ideal place to grow different flowers, making it the appropriate place to celebrate the Panagbenga.
Panagbenga means blooming, and it deserves its title once you see the grand floats in the streets carrying thousands of flowers. The Panagbenga parade is one of the most attended events in the Philippines. It is scheduled every February, as it is one of the coldest months of the year, and the flowers are in full bloom.
5. Masskara Festival
The famous Bacolod chicken inasal isn’t the only reason people flock to this Visayan region. During October, the city is transformed into a lively town with colorful masks displayed in every area. The Masskara Festival is also called the festival of smiles, being true to Bacolod’s moniker, the City of Smiles. This festival in Bacolod is also proof that shows how resilient Filipinos are.
The masks are symbolic figures representing the people’s will to keep smiling even when their life circumstances urge them to do otherwise. When you join the festivities, you’ll be surrounded by people wearing colorful costumes and dancing in the streets. There are also plenty of street vendors that sell barbecued chicken in every corner, so you’ll have your plate of goodness at any time of the day.
6. Pahiyas Festival
In the Southern Tagalog region, you’ll find that the most colorful festival on this side of the country is called the Pahiyas Festival. Held every May 15, this particular festival is celebrated in honor of San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers. Natives of Lucban in Quezon Province see to it that each family participates in the festivities. This is through decorating their houses with hundreds of colorful “kipings.”
The kipings are paper wafers made of glutinous rice and are shaped like leaves. It’s another feast meant to give thanks to the prosperous harvest that the town has received throughout the year.
7. Moriones Festival
Meanwhile, another festival down south is the Moriones Festival that happens every Holy Week in the Philippines. It’s usually between March and April, depending on the catholic calendar. The province of Marinduque in Luzon is serious about keeping their tradition of playing Roman soldiers’ role during the crucifixion of Christ, complete with costumes from head to toe.
During this festival, they offer rewards and plaques to the most beautiful Morion costume. They also recognize the best individual who played the role. While this festival is not as colorful as the others in the list, Moriones plays a huge role in commemorating the sufferings of Christ and His journey to the cross. For Filipinos who have strong faith in their religion, this festival’s reenactments is a highly attended event.
8. Sinulog Festival
Sinulog is one of the wildest and colourful festivals in the Philippines. Held every year on the 3rd Sunday of January, take a look down the side streets to see how wild the locals can get. A must do festival to experience in the Philippines.
Probably the most publicized festival in the entire country is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. The wildest street party you could ever join in can be found right here, along with other street dance rituals and food extravaganza. Still in honor of Santo Nino, Sinulog Festival is anchored on the church celebration of the feast day of the child Jesus. Sinulog is a Bisaya term that directly translates to “like water current.”
These feasts are deeply rooted in the Filipinos’ faith and belief. But when you put them all together, there’s one thing they all share in common: Colorful. The celebrations in the Philippines are electrifying. It’s a must experience when you visit this humble island in Asia.