15 Dec 2016 - 16 min read
list of Philippine festivals and a guide on where to go and what to do.
Join the Catholic devotees converging at Quiapo Church for the Feast of the Black Nazarene. (Photo by Tony Magdaraog from Shutterstock) There’s a common misconception that January 9 is the festival of the Black Nazarene, since it’s the time when the iconic statue gets the most exposure. The Feast of the Black Nazarene is actually on Good Friday. What happens on January 9 is the Traslacion, which celebrates the transfer of the statue of the Black Nazarene from Intramuros to Quiapo. It’s understandable why people get confused. The Traslacion is a colorful, chaotic, and festive affair.
Take in the colorful sights and sounds of this year's Ati-atihan festival in Aklan. (Photo by Frolova_Elena from Shutterstock) There’s a reason why the Ati-Atihan Festival is the “mother of all Philippine festivals.” Iloilo’s Dingayang Festival and Cebu’s Sinulog took their inspiration from this Kalibo celebration. The Ati-Atihan festival is held annually every third Sunday of January to honor the Santo Niño (infant Jesus).
This famous Philippine festival lures in tourists from all over the world. (Photo by Constantine Agustin from Flickr) The Sinulog Festival in Cebu City is one of the country’s most famous festivals. It is marked by a very long parade by different participating groups in different colorful costumes, dancing in honor of the Santo Nino. The highlight of this month-long celebration happens every third Sunday of January. This is when the Sinulog Grand Parade is held.
As part of the celebration, Ati tribe warrior dancers move and chant to the sound of loud drums. (Photo by Frolova_Elena from Shutterstock) Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Iloilo's Dinagyang Festival is also commemorated in honor of the Santo Niño. This is an award-winning festival, voted multiple times by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines as the country’s best tourism event.
Filipinos flock to Baguio to get a glimpse of the beautiful Panagbenga festival parade. If you’ve always loved flowers, then the Panagbenga Festival is the celebration for you. Held from February until the first Sunday of March, the festival features gorgeous floats made from different blooms. During the festival, there are also trade fairs, bazaars, and street dancing.
St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Pinas City is home to the oldest Bamboo Organ in the world. (Photo by 5th Generation Garcia from Flickr) While most festivals involve citywide dancing and partying, the Bamboo Organ Festival of Las Pinas is an altogether different affair. This festival is held annually inside the St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas. It is held to celebrate the oldest bamboo pipe organ in the world.
The artistically-made Morion masks depict the various expressions of roman soldiers. (Photo by Aj Madrigal from Flickr) If you want a really memorable Holy Week experience, head on over to Marinduque for the Moriones Festival. Festival-goers wearing Morion masks can be seen on the streets during Holy Week. If it's your first time seeing one, Morion masks arewooden creations meant to look like Roman soldiers.
The delicious Bangus or Milkfish is celebrated yearly in Dagupan to promote the city as the Bangus capital of the Philippines. The milkfish -- bangus in Filipino -- is the country’s national fish, so it’s not surprising that it has got a festival of it’s own. The Bangus Festival is held yearly on April in Dagupan City. It promotes Dagupan as the bangus capital of the country.
The colorful food displays are sure to get your mouth watering. Philippine festivals are always colorful, and the Pahiyas Festival is no exception. The festival takes it to another level with houses decorated with colorful fruits, vegetables, handicrafts and kiping, a decoration made from rice flour. It is held yearly in Lucban, Quezon to honor San Isidro Labrador.
Previously two separate festivals, the Pintados and Kasadyaan Festival have joined together to become the “Festival of Festivals.” The Spanish called the indigenous Cebuano people Pintados because their bodies were heavily tattooed. Kasadyaan, on the other hand, is the Visayan word for merriment. Just like the Ati-Atihan, Dingayang, and Sinulog festivals, the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival celebrates the Santo Niño.
The colorful costumes worn by the dancers highlight the woven cloth made by the T'boli women. (Photo by Constantine Agustin from Flickr) Unlike some of the festivals celebrated here in the country, the T’nalak Festival or Tinalak Festival commemorates the founding anniversary of South Cotabato. The name T’nalak or Tinalak comes from the popular piece of woven clothing worn by T’boli women.
Dancers celebrate good harvest for the year. (Photo by Jeffrey Pioquinto from Flickr) Another festival that doesn’t take its cues from Catholic belief is Davao’s Kadayawan Festival. The Kadayawan Festival originally offered thanksgiving to the gods Manama and Bulan. Nowadays, it celebrates Davao’s bountiful harvest.
General Santos holds yearly tuna celebrations as the tuna capital of the Philippines. (Photo by Constantine Agustin from Flickr) If there’s anything you immediately associate with General Santos City, it’s fresh fish, tuna on a platter. General Santos is considered the country’s “Tuna Capital.” It’s not surprising that they would have a tuna festival to celebrate.
The elaborately designed masks used in the parade highlight Bacolod as the City of Smiles. (Photo by Jeffrey Pioquinto from Flickr) Bacolod City bills itself as the City of Smiles, so it’s no surprise the MassKara Festival celebrates this. The city is full of locals, tourists and parade participants wearing masks with smiling faces during October.
These giant paper-maches attract tourists from all over the country and the world. (Photo by Ting Estrella from Flickr) This Angono, Rizal festival gets its name from the giant paper mache effigies that are a definite highlight of the parade. The festival is in honor of San Clemente, the patron saint of fishermen. The image of San Clemente is carried by devotees during the grand parade.
Every Christmas season, barangays in San Fernando Pampanga compete by creating large colorful lanterns. (Photo by Phil_trophy from Flickr) The parol is a really Filipino symbol for Christmas, so it’s no surprise that there would be a festival celebrating it. San Fernando Pampanga’s Giant Lantern Festival is a definite crowd draw, and has been going on since 1931.