The Philippines is home to great beaches. However, aside from this, there are attractions that you can only experience during specific months. One good example is Philippine festivals. Philippine festivals are closely tied to the culture and daily lives of the Filipinos. They exist not only to form cultural solidarity but also to preserve long-existing traditions and beliefs for the years to come. Read this article that will show you the top festivals in the Philippines.
The Top Festivals in the Philippines are those that happen in major Philippine cities. These showcase fun activities that last for days or weeks. Here are the top festivals that you shouldn’t refuse:
• Dinagyang Festival
• Sinulog Festival
• Ati-Atihan Festival
• Panagbenga Festival
• Pahiyas Festival
• Lechon Festival
• Maskara Festival
• Kadayawan Festival
• Tuna Festival
• Moriones Festival
The Dinagyang Festival happens every 4th January in the city of Iloilo. Dinagyang features local street dances of Ilokano tribes. The literal translation of Dinagyang into English is “merrymaking.” And so merrymaking does happen as this festival happens. Join the crowd and participate in local Filipino games such as bamboo climbing, tug of war, coconut football, etc.
Many look forward to seeing the street dance performances. It’s because performers spend a lot of time and money crafting colorful costumes made out of feathers, fabric, and other local materials. On the other hand, the dance choreography fuses the movements from the popular tribal dances in the Philippines.
Another highlight for the Dinagyang festival is the Miss Iloilo pageant. This showcases the most beautiful select women in Iloilo coming from its different towns and cities. The pageant then concludes with a fireworks display followed by a short rave party on select locations.
Every 16th January of each year, the city of Cebu brims with excitement. Locals and tourists crowd the streets. Banners adorn the streets with their colors. And the air is filled with the smell of Filipino dishes such as dinuguan, Lechon, Lechon manok, and bulalo, among others. If you’re confused, don’t be. It’s normal for Cebu to be so lively at such time – January 16th is when the Sinulog Festival happens.
The Sinulog Festival commemorates Senor Santo Nino and the conversion of the Cebuano natives to Christianity in the past. Its highlight is the street nighttime parties and the street traditional dance competition during the daytime. Filipinos from different provinces of the Philippines join this festivity. You can also see some of the most popular Filipino icons during the Sinulog festival.
You have to be extremely careful if you join the nighttime parties. Theft isn’t an impossible scenario, especially when your drunk. Therefore, leave your wallet and gadgets at the hotel and only bring cash. In case theft does occur, look for police that is roaming about.
On the third Sunday of January, Panay, an island that’s under the jurisdiction of the Philippines’ Aklan province. Showcases the tribal dances of performers wearing headdresses and colorful artworks on their skin. The dances are opposite to the graceful movements of the dancers of Sinulog but are attractive nevertheless. Another festival that aims to glorify Senor Santo Nino, the Ati-Atihan festival, serves as Aklan’s pride.
The Ati-Atihan festival is one of the oldest festivals in the Philippines. The highlight is the tribal dances that dancers performed on the streets. Dances range from acrobatic performances to performances employing the use of advanced props.
Food during the Ati-Atihan is great. The one that you shouldn’t miss is the chicken meat cooked with coconut milk and banana pith. This food tastes very heavenly, especially if you eat it with spicy condiments. You should also try the local sweets made out of rice.
Bring light clothing for the Ati-Atihan festival. Avoid wearing white clothes because it’s a common custom for the locals to pour colored powder or non-permanent paint on other viewers. Just like Sinulog, be always on the lookout for theft.
Baguio city is exempt from the commonly hot climate of the Philippines. As a result, it enjoys the glory of being the place where different kinds of flowers grow abundantly. Of course, just like any other Filipinos, those living in Baguio are always thankful for such a blessing. And to show their gratitude, Panagbenga Festival takes place every February.
The highlight of the Panagbenga Festival is the float parades made out of flowers. As per the competition rules, each float parade shouldn’t be made from any other major materials for making figures but only flowers. The float parades bear the shapes of animals—people, famous Philippine landmarks, etc. Not only are they very colorful but also very fragrant too.
Baguio can be very cold during February. The coldness might be closely similar to the coldness of the early spell of winter. With that being said, bring thick clothing that you usually wear at home during autumn or winter.
The Philippines is an agricultural country, and a lot of places where Filipinos live rely on the produce that plants provide, specifically rice, corn, fruits, vegetables, and coconuts. A location in the Philippines that really looks up to the fortune of bountiful harvest is Lucban, a small municipality in the city of Quezon.
Pahiyas attract tourists with colorful decorations that homeowners attach to houses. The decorations range from homemade beads, garlands, lanterns, and chandeliers made out of local materials, specifically rice stalks. All houses also serve free food regardless if the homeowners are familiar with the guests or not. Out of all the food, try the Lucban longganisa, or Lucban sausage, because it has a distinct fatty, sweet, and salty taste.
Other treats for you to try are the sweetened bananas and mangoes. Pahiyas festival takes place every fifteenth of May, the month where lots of flowers bloom in the Philippines.
The Philippines ties closely to the Lechon. It’s undebatable that countries can imitate the Lechon at some point. However, none can compare to the Lechon that comes from the Philippines. That crispy glistening skin and savory meat- that comes from a balanced mixture of seasonings shoved on the pig’s stomach before cooking it in the spit and open fire – is simply phenomenal.
If you love Lechon and want to taste it non-stop, go to Batangas every June 24th. Batangas commences the Lechon festival during this time and showcases a Lechon contest. This festival decorates the streets of Batangas with the glistening red skin of Lechon. There’s even a competition to see who cooked the best. If you’re a chef, don’t hesitate to come because you might meet someone ready to sell you his recipe.
Bacolod’s Maskara festival symbolizes the friendliness of those living in Bacolod. It features street performers wearing lively-looking headdresses and masks while dancing to the beat of reworked modern and local songs. What’s good to note about this festival is that everyone is just eager to mingle with you. If you see the fun in building new connections, then this festival is for you.
An event that you’ll find during the Maskara festival is the Electric Maskara. This is a very luxurious street dancing competition that famous local DJs oversee. Drinks are unlimited though you might have to pay. It’s fun because hooking with other party goes is very easy. Just grab a drink, give it to someone, and the fun will just start on its own.
Of course, Davao doesn’t fall behind other Philippine cities if festivals are the topic of the day. If you plan to visit Davao, consider scheduling your trip just as when Kadayawan Festival commences. The Kadayawan Festival features all the good things that Davao has to offer. You’ll see lots of Filipino celebrities that once lived in Davao, displays of durian products, souvenirs, etc.
What’s good to note is that Kadayawan Festival is highly safe. You can sleep drunk on the street but rest assured that someone won’t steal your belongings. Davao city is on high alert during this time. And as a tourist, safety is something that you shouldn’t be worried about.
General Santos (GenSan) City gets a lot of revenue out of its abundant supply of tuna. And as a result, it created a festival that establishes the cultural importance of tuna for GenSan people. The highlight is the boat-shaped floats that roam on the streets. However, the gourmet options during this parade might be more enjoyable. You should try roasted tuna head, Filipino-style tuna sushi, tuna embutido, tuna longganisa, tuna meatballs, etc.
The Moriones Festival of Marinduque happens every holy week. It showcases the passion of Jesus Christ but does so in a creative and lighthearted manner. During this festival, gigantic mascots that look like menacing Roman soldiers roam the streets. These then join the reenactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Aside from this, you might also see locals doing penitensya or the act of lashing one’s own back with a barbed whip. Those who do this believe that God forgives or makes their sins lighter.