One more interesting thing about the Philippines is the number of festivals happening in the country every year. From the first day of January to the last day of December, there is always something to see in various parts of the country as the number of festivals totals to more than 42,000.
The festivals can be cultural, religious, or both and often feature vibrant costumes, street dancing, and food fests.
Considering the number of all these festivals, it can be a real challenge to see all these so we listed the most popular and amazing ones.
When: Third Sunday of January
Where: Kalibo, Aklan
Known as the Mother of all Philippine Festivals, Ati-Atihan is one of the oldest and biggest events in the country. It is a religious festival celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño, the child Jesus. The highlight of the festival is the tribe dancing competition wherein the faces and bodies of participants are painted with black and garbed in colorful costumes to represent the Aeta people, locally called Ati, who are the first settlers on the island.
Several people, regardless of religious beliefs, come to the island to join the celebration. The grand festival attracts even foreigners from various parts of the world.
Other activities during the festival include holy mass and procession, street dancing, food festival, live bands, and other entertainment performances.
When: Third Sunday of January
Where: Cebu City
Another festival taking place during the third Sunday of January is the Sinulog Festival. Like Ati-Atihan, it is also celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño. The activities are almost the same as that of Ati-Atihan but with Sinulog, the dancers are not painted with black. They are instead dressed in colorful and intricately-designed costumes that make the mood more vibrant.
Considering that Cebu is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the country, street parties during Sinulog are popular all over the country. The festival attracts millions of people from all over the world annually.
When: Fourth Sunday of January
Where: Iloilo City
Named after the Ilonggo term for merrymaking, Dinagyang is one of the biggest festivals in the country. It features a variety of fun activities such as street dancing, food festival, agro and industrial fairs, music festival, fluvial parade, and a pageant in addition to the main event which is the tribe dancing competition.
Like most festivals happening in January, Dinagyang is celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño. and to celebrate the arrival of Malay settlers in the city.
Where: Baguio City
Panagbenga is a term of Kankanaey origin which means “season of blooming”. The festival was created to feature the abundance of flowers in the city and pay tribute to the city for surviving the 1990 Luzon earthquake which caused almost 30 collapsed buildings and landslides that disabled access to Baguio City from the rest of the Philippines.
The month-long Panagbenga Festival features a variety of activities such as exhibits, street dancing, and a float parade all showcasing the beautiful and colorful flowers of Baguio City.
When: Fourth Sunday of October
Where: Bacolod City
While the highlight of the event takes place during the fourth Sunday of October, the festival usually kicks off as early as the first week of the month. A portmanteau from mass which means crowd or group and the Spanish word cara which means face in English, the festival features masks adorned with smiling faces. It is where the city got its nickname the “City of Smiles” from.
The highlight of the festival is the street dancing competition where masked dancers in colorful costumes dance to Latin musical beats. Other activities during the festival are MassKara Queen pageant, drum and bugle corps competition, food festivals, musical concerts, and exhibits.
When: May 15
Where: Lucban, Quezon
Pahiyas Festival is a celebration of bountiful harvests and to celebrate the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.
Pahiyas comes from the word “payas” which means decorate hence the colorful decorations adorning the houses in Lucban. Decorations commonly used are agricultural products as well as Lucban longganisa ang Kiping, a traditional Filipino leaf-shaped wafer made from glutinous rice. Activities included during the festival are Pahiyas Festival dance, mass and procession, trade fairs and exhibits, and cultural shows. There is also a competition for the most beautifully-decorated house.
When: Holy Week (March or April)
While also colorful, Moriones is not a jovial festival like several other festivals in the country. This one is religious in nature and highlights the reenactment of the story of the Roman soldier in the Passion of the Christ and Stations of the Cross.
The festival is distinct for its colorful Roman costumes including painted masks, helmets, and tunics. During the festival, some devotees even inflict suffering upon themselves as a form of atonement for their sins.
Other amazing festivals not to miss in the Philippines are Kadayawan Festival (Davao), Pintados Festival (Tacloban City), Giant Lantern Festival (San Fernando, Pampanga), and Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (Cavite or Pampanga).
READ MORE: Festivals in the Philippines