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Spirited and Colourful Must-See Festivals in The Philippines

November 7, 2018 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

Essential to the Philippine’s vibrant culture, is the colourful mix of local festivals which take place throughout the year.  Lasting anywhere between a day to an entire month and attracting millions of visitors from around the world, these festivals are huge cultural celebrations filled with colour, music and dancing.

Each city in the Philippines has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint.  Many of the festivals and celebrations are influenced by the Spanish colony from the 1500s, focusing on religious traditions, whilst others are integrated with significant historical events in the country.

Festivals and events

2019

  • January – Sinulog Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, occurring on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City.   The centre of the Santo Nino Catholic celebrations, the spectacular festival draws millions of visitors and features traditional dancing, drumming, chanting, pageantry and sports.
  • January – Ati-Atihan Festival occurs on the third weekend of January in Kalibo, Aklan.   Often described as the Filipino Mardi Gras, the celebrations usually last for a week, peaking on the third Sunday of January.  The dazzling celebrations feature vibrant costumes, music, dancing and a lively street parade.
  • January – Dinagyang Festival is a religious and cultural celebration occurring in January in Iloilo City.  A showcase of the rich heritage and colourful history of the Ilonggo people, the festival honours Santo Nino and pays tribute to the arrival of Malay natives.  The colourful festival is about merrymaking and features performances, music and food.
  • February – Panagbenga Festival is an annual month long flower festival held in Baguio City to celebrate the season of blooming.  Created as a tribute to the city’s flowers, the festival features floral floats, floral parades and street dancing.  The whole city is transformed with colourful displays of floral arrangements with a delicate, sweet scent.
  • May – Pahiyas Festival is a colourful harvest festival held on the 15th May each year in Lucban, Quezon.  Locals decorate their houses with arrangements made from fruits, vegetables and colourful kiping, a leaf-shaped wafer made from rice and dyed with food colouring.
  • October – Masskara Festival is an annual festival occurring on the fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod.  Featuring street dancers in colourful costumes, masks and headdresses, the month-long festival is often referred to as the happiest and most vibrant festival in the Philippines.  Participants wear masks with smiles and colourful outfits, a reminder of the resilience of the Bacoleños.

Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippines Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand said,

“The Filipino festivals are a spectacular sight for all visitors and each dazzling celebration often attracts people from all over the world.  Each festival is full of life and colour and provides a wonderful insight into our unique traditions and the history of our nation.  Attending a Philippine festival is definitely something you have to experience at least once and I would strongly encourage anyone planning to visit the Philippines in 2019 to find out what event or festival is taking place in order to fully immerse themselves in this wonderful destination.”

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