Cities & Towns

Christmas Destinations Outside Manila

Written by Patrick

Escape the busy Manila this Christmas and immerse yourself in the holiday spirit that awaits in destinations outside the city’s borders.

Christmas is a big event in the Philippines.  It is a festive and joyous occasion celebrated with enthusiasm and warmth.  Starting as early as September and lasting until the first weeks of January, the Philippines is known for having one of the longest and most festive Christmas seasons in the world.

Aside from celebrating over good food and adhering to religious Christmas traditions such as completing the Aguinaldo masses and hearing mass on Christmas eve, the season is also the time for many Filipinos to rest, relax, and visit places they don’t normally go to on regular days.

If you want to avoid the Christmas crowd and traffic in the country’s capital, here are some delightful Christmas destinations outside Manila you and your loved ones may want to see.

1 | Pampanga

The Pampanga Eye

Caption: The Pampanga Eye

Every middle of December, Pampanga, specifically the town of San Fernando, held its Giant Lantern Festival.  The festival celebrates the official start of the Christmas season and at the same time showcases the town’s lantern industry.  In addition to the highlight of the festival which is the giant lantern competition, other activities to look forward to in San Fernando include novena masses, fun runs, street parades, food festivals, and others.

While in San Fernando, you may also want to experience an adrenaline rush in Sky Ranch, the home of Pampanga Eye, the tallest and biggest ferris wheel in the Philippines so far.  And being the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines”, make sure to indulge yourself in various mouthwatering Kapampangan dishes.

READ MORE: Pampanga Visitors Guide

2 | Baguio

Baguio City at night

Caption: Baguio City at night

Dubbed as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines”, Baguio City turns festive during the Christmas season, too.  Spend your vacation in Baguio and experience the cold Christmas weather.  Stay in log cabins with fireplaces, take long walks under the pine trees, and start your mornings with a cup of hot chocolate drink.

Of course, don’t miss Baguio Country Club Christmas Village.  The Christmas Village features a nativity scene, live musical performance, and snow show.

READ MORE: Baguio City Visitors Guide

3 | Tagaytay

A view in Tagaytay

Caption: A view in Tagaytay

Next to Baguio, another destination where you can enjoy the chilly weather is in Tagaytay, particularly in Crosswinds, a Swiss-inspired development located on one of the highest points in Tagaytay.  Aside from the awe-inspiring residences and scenic views of the pine trees, the community comes alive during the yuletide season.  Crosswinds features a Christmas Village where residents and tourists can enjoy a truly magical Christmas scene filled with twinkling lights and life-sized candy canes, tin soldiers, gift boxes, and other ornaments.  There are also themed restaurants and shops to complete the experience.

READ MORE: Tagaytay City Visitors Guide

4 | Cebu

Cebu City's Fuente Osmeña Circle at night

Caption: Cebu City’s Fuente Osmeña Circle at night

Spending your time off work exploring the beaches and waterfalls of Cebu?  You may want to see various Christmas attractions in the city as well.  Catch Ayala Center’s Symphony of Lights, a five-minute lights and sounds show that has become famous among Cebuanos.  If you are anywhere near Fuente Circle, see their 125-feet tall Christmas tree and be entertained with various live performances.  Other Christmas attractions in Cebu include Winter Magic Christmas Park at SM Seaside City Cebu and Christmas-themed Park in Snow World Cebu.

READ MORE: Cebu City Visitors Guide

5 | Iloilo

People enjoying at the Festive Walk

Caption: People enjoying at the Festive Walk

In addition to its gastronomic delights, one more reason to visit Iloilo is its various attractions during Christmas.  In Iloilo City alone, there are at least three spots flocked by people to see the colorful decorations and twinkling lights that brighten up the night.  Don’t miss Central Philippine University’s (CPU) annual Festival of Lights and Music as well as Festive Walk Mall and Festive Walk Parade’s colorful lanterns, giant Christmas tree, art installations, and others.  More Christmas attractions in the city include Angelicum School, Iloilo Provincial Capitol, and SM City Iloilo.

In the province, you may want to see the northern part, specifically the town of Pototan.  It is dubbed as the “Christmas Capital of Iloilo” for its famed Christmas Festival of Lights.

READ MORE: Iloilo City Visitors Guide

Whether you find yourself captivated by the festive charm of Tagaytay, the cool mountain air of Baguio, or the amazing giant lanterns in Pampanga, each destination offers a magical experience to celebrate the season.  As you embark on a journey outside Manila, let the warmth of holiday traditions and the beauty of these diverse destinations create lasting memories that will make this Christmas truly special.

READ MORE: Christmas in the Philippines

What's YOUR favorite Christmas destination outside Manila?

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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