Top 10 Festivals In the Philippines
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Filipinos love to get together for a good time. Hardly a day goes by without there being a celebration somewhere in the country. Vibrant festivals characterized by lots of creativity, artistry, and passion last anywhere from one day to a full month.
These celebrations are hugely cultural, displaying the fun-loving spirit of Filipinos around the world. In these celebrations, the history, traditions, and spiritual side of the Filipinos come to the forefront. Indeed, so grand are some of these celebrations that they’ve birthed many of the entire region’s most popular festivals. If you happen to be touring the Philippines any time this year, here are ten festivities that you can be a part of.
Date: Third Sunday of January
The Ati-Atihan Festival is regarded as the granddaddy of all festivities in the Philippines, and for a good reason. This religious festivity is one of the oldest Philippine celebrations and is widely touted as the best and biggest Mardi Gras in the country. The celebration takes a whole week, reaching its peak on the third Sunday of the New Year. There’s usually a frenzied parade on the streets where celebrants with colorfully painted faces and indigenous costumes come out for a fun-filled march along the streets of Kalibo. The highlights of this popular celebration include mesmerizing tribal dances, loud drum beats, and Catholic rituals. Even if you only prefer to watch the proceedings from a distance, the experience is still truly memorable. It’s a mix of ingenious drama and religious ritual that has no equal.
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Date: Third Sunday of January
Location: Cebu City
On the third weekend of January, Cebu City serves its own festival dish to rival any the world over. This festival, fondly known as Sinulog, brings together gifted residents of the city and the provinces beyond to showcase their talent through pageantry, street dancing, sports, and other acts. Millions of people from the Philippines and the rest of the world attend this festival every year, putting it right there at the top with the other most attended festivals in the world. Added to this kaleidoscope parade are numerous concerts that host Philippines’ biggest and most exciting raves, making Cebu a haven for fun-loving partygoers.
Date: Fourth Sunday of January
Location: Iloilo City
On the fourth weekend of January, all roads lead to Iloilo City for an annual street party that brings the whole city to a standstill. Streets are usually closed during this festival, with bands playing in every corner and people enjoying endless food and drinks. There are towering boom boxes everywhere. Different tribes come together in this festival, with each making entertaining presentations. There are highly competitive performances from different high schools, too. Once a simple celebration of Child Jesus, this festivity has become such a force that it has received several awards in the past, one of them for Best Tourism Event of the Philippines from Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.
Date: February 1 – March 4
Location: Baguio City
February ushers in the “season of blooming.” This festival is a treat by Baguio City, one whose charm especially lies in its flora and fauna theme. Expect beautiful parades of floral floats in the city, as well as children adorned as flora and fauna. Feast your eyes on Session Road in Bloom where the street is closed to allow for gorgeous flower carts, beautiful street dancing, and outdoor cafes. It’s a refreshing celebration for those coming from the frenzy of January celebrations.
Date: April 2-7
Location: Marinduque Province
Come Holy Week in the Philippines, people flock to Marinduque for a weeklong celebration of St. Longinus. Scores of people wear helmets to reenact the search of the saint by fellow centurions once he has converted to Christianity. This is the same centurion who pierced Jesus’ side with a lance. The locals reenact the hunt theatrically, with one of the locals playing the saint while the rest, dressed as centurions, search for him.
Date: May 14-15
Location: Lucban Quezon
In May, Lucban treats people to a unique harvest festival known as the Pahiyas. Residents of the area colorfully decorate their homes with farm produces. The display is done competitively, which adds to the glamor of the affair. Come out with a basket and pick the produce from the walls without paying if you wish. All those lush vegetables and fruits mentioned on the Bahay Kubo song are usually on display, especially the sigarilyas and talong.
Date: June 28- June 29
Location: Tacloban City, Leyte
This festival is the highlight of June for residents of Tacloban City. It is the fourth celebration in honor of Sto. Niño-the baby Jesus. Yes, the Filipinos love to remind everyone to be childlike in their ways and treasure their children, placing their hopes in them. This festival has been growing in popularity over the years as it sends a lot of participants to the next festival in this list, the Aliwan Fiesta.
Date: April 26-28
Location: CCP Complex Pasay City
The Aliwan Fiesta takes place in the last week of April. This festival is one of the newest in the country, having started in 2003. However, its wild popularity is rivaled by few others in the country. Currently, the festival, which takes place in Pasay City, is lauded as the mother of all festivities in the country. The festival is meant to promote the different cultures in the country and brings together thousands of young men and women to competitively showcase their cultures, with the winner bagging a million pesos.
Date: Third Week of August
Location: Davao City
Well into the second half of the year, Davao City brings together residents and visitors in the biggest celebration hosted by Mindanao. This festival takes place during the third week of August and features floral floats, beauty pageants, street dancing, and fireworks displays. This festival has all the hallmarks of a traditional Filipino festival.
Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Dates: Every 2nd week of February
Location: Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga
This fiesta is a departure from the other festivals in this list. The 4-day festival, which takes place in Pampanga, features activities to do with flying, skydiving, paragliding and stunning hot air balloons among others. This festival is Asia’s longest-running event and will bring together aviators and tourists from around the world.
With a major celebration happening somewhere in the country virtually every month of the year, the Philippines is indeed the land of festivals. For the fun-loving tourist looking for some unforgettable action, there’s always something on offer all year round.