It is indeed more fun in the Philippines, as this country at the heart of Southeast Asia proudly proclaims in its tourism slogans. The citizens in this nation are lighthearted, always smiling and ready to help and have a good time. This fun is even more pronounced during famous festivals in the Philippines, where different areas showcase their products, culture and of course, their people.
Because people in this country can find reasons to celebrate anytime, there are different festivals in the Philippines all throughout the year. Most of these festivals, however, are held during the summertime when the weather is sunny, primarily due to the ancient custom of celebrating harvest time in this still largely agricultural country.
Famous Festivals in the Philippines
Below is a list of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, arranged according to the month they are celebrated. Bear in mind that these festivals are major tourist draws, so if you plan to go there, it is highly recommended that you book your flights and accommodations months in advance.
Ati-Atihan Festival – Third Weekend of January
This famous festival in the Philippines takes place during the third weekend of January in the municipality of Kalibo in Aklan province located in the central Philippines. It is a celebration to honor the Santo Nino, or Infant Jesus, which brought the Roman Catholic religion in the country. This Phillippines festival is unique because it features people who parade themselves covered in black soot to mimic the ancient settlers of the island. Expect colorful costumes and displays, as well as a lot of festive tribal dancing to the beat of drums. Because of its party mood, this festival is described by some as the “Mardi Gras” of the Philippines.
Sinulog Festival – Third Weekend of January
Also held during the third weekend of January, this is among the most attended festivals in the Philippines. It is held in Cebu City in the central Philippines in honor of the Infant Jesus, and everyone who attends this festival can be heard shouting “Pit Senor!” which is a pleading to the Roman Catholic figure. This festival is a colorful display of local artistry and talent, with joyful street dancing, beauty pageants and even sports events. For the younger generation, this festival is also known for hosting the biggest rave parties. With so much to offer for everybody, it is no wonder that over four million people have been recorded to attend this event every year.
Dinagyang Festival – Fourth Weekend of January
If you still haven’t gotten enough of the festive vibe during the first two festivals, you can go to the province of Iloilo during the fourth weekend of January for this other fun festival in the Philippines. Also celebrated to fete the Infant Jesus, this festival is equally colorful and gleeful, but has more focus on cultural events. Among the main events of the Dinagyang Festival is a competition between local tribes, where they showcase their warrior dances, complete with indigenous costumes and spears as props. There are also street dancing events and street parties, where there are overflowing food and drinks.
Panagbenga Festival – February
Come the month of February, the city of Baguio in the north, known as the country’s summer capital, comes in full bloom for this other famous festival in the Philippines. The centerpiece of this celebration is the flower harvest of the city. Huge and well-decorated floats of all sorts of flowers are paraded on the streets during this lively festival, with participants colorfully dressed as flora and fauna. There are also concerts and beauty pageants during the chilly nights in this city. The long drive to Baguio City can be extra tedious because of traffic jams, and streets can be congested with people during this festival, so it is better to plan ahead if you really want to participate.
Moriones Festival – March / April
Unlike the other festive celebrations in the country, this popular festival in the Philippines, particularly in the island-province of Marinduque located south of Metro Manila, has a more somber mood. It happens every Holy Week, which usually falls during the month of March or April. During this festival, locals dress like Roman centurions to mimic a saint who converted to Christianity after witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Although this festival is relatively quiet, the costumes are intricate and colorful, and the culture is really vibrant. Roman Catholics can also participate in other religious rituals observed by locals here during the Holy Week.
Pahiyas Festival – May
Go to this famous festivity in the Philippines during the 15th of May if you are looking for a taste of a genuine local fiesta. Held in the town of Lucban in the province of Laguna located south of Manila, this festival is a burst of colors, with lines of houses dressed up in various decors using locally harvested products. Do not be surprised if you see bananas, squashes or string beans hanging from the windows of houses and used as decorations. You can even free to pick these fresh vegetables and fruits. Another good thing about this colorful festival is the fact that you can enter any house and eat local food there, even if you are a total stranger.
Kadayawan Festival – Third Week of August
Head to the city of Davao in southern Philippines during the third week of August and witness the beauty of the culture there during this celebration. Considered to be one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines, this event serves as the locals’ thanksgiving for their harvest, their rich culture and the rich gifts of nature bestowed upon the southern island of Mindanao. Just like other local festivals, street dancing and colorful float parades are staples in this festival.
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Masskara Festival – Third Weekend of October
The Philippines is generally known for the sweet smiles of their people, but in the city of Bacolod, they up the ante during the third weekend of October by celebrating a popular festivity in the Philippines where every person on the streets wears a smiling mask. The masked participants dance in the streets with their colorful costumes and props. At night, the party scene is also vibrant, particularly appealing to the more youthful crowd.
Higantes Festival – November
This one-of-a-kind famous festival in the Philippines in the town of Angono, province of Rizal tests the craftsmanship and of locals in creating giant statues. The statues, which usually measure up to 10 to 12 feet, are usually made of paper and clay, dressed with the traditional local attire and paraded on the streets. The colors and the immensity of the statues really make a sight to behold. This popular festivity is held every November, and usually lasts for two weeks.
Giant Lantern Festival – December
Here’s another well-liked festival in the Philippines that showcases local creativity. During the month of December, residents from the city of San Fernando in Pampanga province north of Metro Manila make giant Christmas lanterns and put them in competition with each other. The end products are colorful, and are especially captivating when lit up.
These famous festivals in the Philippines give only a glimpse of the culture and fun that are evident in this country. If you want to experience the party scene yet still get an idea of how the locals live, attending these popular festivities in the Philippines is definitely a must.
Feature image credit: roger alcantara