10 Philippine Festivals You Shouldn’t Miss in Your Entire Life

Dinagyang Festival Photo
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Top 10 Philippine Festivals

It is undeniable that the Philippines is not only a home to unspoiled tourist destinations, but also a home to a wide array of local traditions. Among these countless festivals in the country, here are some of the most popular, merriest as well as intriguing festivals in the Philippines that you should not miss in your entire life. Read on:

#1 Pahiyas Festival

Pahiyas Festival in Lucban
Pahiyas Festival in Lucban Photo credit: jasondevilla / Foter / CC BY-NC

Held annually, every 15th of May in Lucban, Laguna, Pahiyas Festival is deemed as one of the most colorful festivities. During festival, one can witness brightly-colored kiping (dried rice flour) shaped like leaves. Streets are also decorated with vegetables and fruits.

#2 Obando Fiesta

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Obando Fertility Rites
Obando Fertility Rites

Best known as a festival of prayer and dance, Obando Fiesta is also popular as a venue for childless individuals to increase their chances of reproduction by dancing to the Virgen de Salambao. But do you also know that the said festival is also for those who are praying for a husband or a wife?

#3 Panag-apoy Festival

Panag-apoy Festival
Panag-apoy Festival Photo Credits: Batang Lakwatsero

Panag-apoy Festival, held annually during November 1 in Sagada, is a tradition in Mountain Province to remember their dearly beloved departed ones by lighting a fire. According to the residents, this is their way not only to remember their departed but also to guide the souls of those who already left.

#4 Panagbenga Festival

Panagbenga Festival
Panagbenga Festival Photo credit: Miguel Isidro Photography / Foter / CC BY

This flower festival in the City of Pines, Baguio, is celebrated every February of the year. This festival was established to celebrate the season of blooming — which is February. Highlights of the festival include the amazing floral float parade as well as street dancing.

#5 Kadayawan Festival

Kadayawan Festival
Kadayawan Festival Photo credit: jeshurun flores / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Held every third week of August, this festival in Davao City was originally established to unite the people of Davao after the historic martial law to promote the city as a colorful and a nice place in which to live. During the festival, streets are decorated with vegetables as well fruits. Street dancing and float parade are also organized that feature dancers in their own tribal jewelries as well as costumes.

#6 Bacolod Masskara Festival

Bacolod Masskara Festival
Bacolod Masskara Festival Photo credit: billydl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Masskara Festival is the biggest festival held in Bacolod City every year. It is celebrated every third weekend of the month of October. The origin of the name of the festival is from the words “mass” (many), and “kara” (face), meaning “many faces.” The name is also a description of the festivities itself since part of the celebration is the wearing of masks or maskara in the local dialect. There are many activities which form part of the festivities such as dance contests, drum and bugle contests, a beauty pageant, food festivals, sports events and musical concerts.

#7 Cebu Sinulog Festival

Sinulog Festival Photo
Sinulog Festival Photo credit: Constantine Agustin / Foter / CC BY-SA

This is probably the most celebrated festival in the country, or at the very least in Cebu City. It is celebrated in honor of the Santo Nino or the Blessed Child Jesus. It is a commemoration of the Filipinos acceptance of the Catholic faith. Held every third Sunday of January, it is a big celebration with the entire city participating. The celebration goes on for nine days with various activities and events. It is celebrated mostly with dancing and mainly the Sinulog dance. The atmosphere is very much like Mardi Gras with lots of music, mostly percussion, a colorful parade of floats and dance groups. This is definitely one big party, with lots of eating, drinking and dancing. On the last day, the festivities culminate in the biggest grand parade you will ever see.

#8 Aklan Ati-Atihan Festival

Aklan Ati-Atihan Festival Photo
Aklan Ati-Atihan Festival Photo credit: akeán® / Foter / CC BY-NC

The Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan is one of the oldest festivals of our country. Its origins go back to before the Spanish Colonization. It is believed to be a festivity that originated with the Atis, the indigenous people of the island giving thanks to the ten Malay tribes and the chieftains that settled on the lowlands of the island. Spanish missionaries who came during the colonization added a Catholic theme to the festival by making it a feast to the Santo Nino or the Blessed Child Jesus. It is probably the origin of some of the later fiestas near the region such as the Sinulog in Cebu and the Ilo-ilo festival of Dinagyang. The celebration takes place every January and culminates on the third Sunday of the same month with street parades. Many participants do the Ati-Atihan dance, with participants mimicking the Atis, dress in indigenous costumes, and clad with weapons parade throughout the streets and all throughout the day. The festivities end with the announcement of the winning dance group that the onlookers and tourists like the most.

#9 Ilo-Ilo Dinagyang Festival

Dinagyang Festival Photo
Dinagyang Festival Photo credit: maxiadrian photography / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo has its origins from both the Ati-Atihan festival in Aklan and the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Like both festivals, it is also celebrated in January, usually after the Sinulog and the Ati-Atihan or during the fourth Sunday of January. It is also a festival in honor of the Santo Nino. It has three major and unforgettable activities: the Kasadyahan Street Dancing; Ati-Ati street dancing; and the Miss Dinagyang. You can join in the Ati-Atihan anytime as they perform from sun up to sun down and all through the night. With so many dance groups participating, it is definitely one big dance party.

#10 Marinduque Moriones Festival

Moriones Festival Photo
Moriones Festival Photo

The Moriones Festival is a festival that re-enacts the story of St. Longunis. He was a Roman Centurion who was blinded in one eye. The festival is held during the Catholic Holy Week, from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday. During the celebration, participants wear costumes of Roman soldiers during biblical times. They also wear Morion masks depicting Roman Soldiers and Syrian mercenaries, which are part of the story re-enactment. The costumes and the masks are all brightly colored and decorated to add to the festive mood. During the seven-day celebration, these masked Moriones will also roam the streets, poking fun at kids, dancing, and attracting attention. The entire island of Marinduque participates in the celebration where towns participate by putting in parts of the stage backdrop for the re-enactments. It is truly a big fiesta, as most festivities are here in the Philippines.

Also Read: The 10 Most Popular Festivals in the Philippines

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