The Philippines is a bunch of happy islands that celebrate almost everything in a spectacular manner. The Filipino people experience great delight and exuberance in celebrating the festivals that depict their culture, a particular season or numerous events that are reasons for joy and merrymaking. There are numerous festivals, almost one for every province, celebrated with great pomp and show.
1. Traslacion of the Black Nazarene (January 9)
January 9 is the festival of Black Nazarene. It is the occasion when the iconic statue gets the maximum exposure. On Good Friday the feast of Black Nazarene is organized. It is actually the celebration of transfer of Black Nazaene statue from Intramuros to Quiapo. The Translacion is actually a colourful, messy and joyful affair.
- The routes of Translacion have changed over the years because of the structural incompetence and growing accidents on the old traditional route.
- The festival came from Mexico to the Philippines in 1606.
- The statue is carried on the carriage which has two large ropes that are pulled by the devotees.
2. Ati-Atihan Festival (January 15-21)
Ati-Atihan Festival is no doubt the most famous of all Philippine festivals. LLoilo’s Dingayang Festival and Cebu’s Sinulog were inspired by the Kalibo celebration. The Ati-Atihan Festival is held each year on every third Sunday of January to honour Santo Nino(Infant Jesus).
- The Ati-Atihan Festival being a pagan festival in previous time was meant to celebrate the anitos than Santo Nino which is celebrated now.
- This time in 2018, the celebration featured “Never ending snake Dancing” at Magsaysay Park.
- The translation of Ati-Atihan means to “be like the Atis”.
3. Sinulog Festival (January 21-28)
This is the country’s most popular festival in Cebu which is marked by a long parade by different participating groups in beautiful and colourful costumes, dancing to honour Santo Nino
- The word Sinulog literally means, “like the water current” and is actually the name of a dance step.
- Apart from street dancing, the Sinulog Festival also includes a fluvial parade, a beauty pageant and a choral competition.
- Participants in the street dance competition come from all over the country.
4. Dinagyang Festival (January 26-28)
The Dinagyang Festival is a special festival and this time in 2018 it was the 50th anniversary of the festival. This festival is also celebrated like few others to honour the Santo Nino. It’s also an award-winning festival and is considered the best tourism event of the country.
- The Dinagyang festival has been recognized from the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.
- This festival has an official mascot known as Dagoy, a welcoming Aeta kid-mascot who stands 6’9’’.
5. Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival (February 8-11)
The Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga is generally held on a weekend displaying attractions like the hot air balloons, skydiving and some military aircraft drills.
- Many aerobatic and off-road driving exhibitions would be there.
- The Fly Market Fiesta within the premises has a variety of shops, food and beverages for the visitors. One can also buy souvenirs in there.
- The chief attraction of the festival is the Hot Air Balloon show that takes place during the sunrise and sunset.
6. Panagbenga Festival (February 1 – March 6)
The Panagbenga Festival is the celebration for you if you love flowers. From February until the first Sunday of March, the festive feature includes gorgeous boats made from various blooming flowers in different colours. Besides this the festival also features bazaars, trade fairs and street dancing.
- Panagbenga is a kankaney term that means a season of blooming which is a time of flowering.
- In 2017, the Panagbenga parade drew 2 million people to Bagauio.
- The Bagauio festival started in 90s to recover from the destruction of 1990 Luzon earthquake.
7. Bamboo Organ Festival (February 22-28)
The Bamboo Organ festival is quite different from regular festivals as it involves celebration of oldest bamboo pipe organ in the world. This festival is held annually in the St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Pinas.
- More than 50 organists from around the world have participated in the festival last year. The festival includes renowned artists like Jennifer Pascual, Austria’s Martin Haselbock.
- The Las Pinas Boys’ Choir perform during event series.
8. Moriones Festival (March 25-31)
Those who wish to indulge in a truly memorable holy experience may head over to Marinduque for the Moriones Festival. The festival goers wearing morion masks could be traced loitering on the streets during the Holy Week. Morion masks are wooden creations that are meant to look like Roman soldiers.
- Apart from morions, Holy Week celebrations in Marinduque also include flagellants like the ones in Pampanga.
- Pugutan is also a highlight of celebrations. It is a play that exhibits the life of Longinus, whose blind eye was healed when blood dropped on it from the Christ’s side.
9. Bangus Festival (April 6-30)
This festival is celebrated annually in the country to rejoice the milkfish-bangus so it has a festival of its own. Each year it is celebrated in April in the Dagupan city as it is the chief hub for bangus fish.
- The festival started in 2002, and has evolved since then to become a two week socio economic series of events focusing on Bangus.
- The city won recognition from Guinness Book of world records for the organization of longest barbecue in 2003.
- As an interesting part of the celebration participants wear a bangus costume and cheer the crowd.
10. Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival (June 29)
Celebrated as two separate festivals in earlier times, the Pintados and kasadyaan festivals have joined together to become the most popular of all Festivals”. The Spanish people called the original people of Cebunao as Pintados as their bodies remained heavily tattooed. Kasadyaan is the Visayan word for merriment. Just like few others the Pintados-Kasadyaan festival also celebrates the Santo Nino.
- Being the major festival of the town it has also brought together various festivals of the towns of Leyte. These festivals are the Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Lingganay Festival of Alang-alang etc
11. Pahiyas Festival (May 15)
The festivals of Philippines are colourful and the Pahiyas Festival is not an exception too. Every year held in in Lucban in admiration of San Isidro Labrador, the festival is celebrated with full zest and enthusiasm. The houses are decorated with vegetables, colourful fruits, handicrafts and kiping which is a decoration made with rice flour.
- The chief attraction of the festival is the procession that is carried. Every house tries to beat their competitors in terms of decoration and design.
- Higantes are also part of the procession that makes it way from the town.
12. T’nalak Festival (July 1)
Tnalak Festival commemorates the foundation ceremony of South Cotabato. The name Tnalak or Tinalak comes from the popular piece of woven clothing worn by T’Boli women.
- The festival starts with float and cheer dance parade that entertains a lot. The dancers from different tribal groups of Mindanao are clad in their traditional clothing
- To support local industry the fairs and festivals are also a part of the festival.
13. Kadayawan Festival (August 17-19)
The festival that doesn’t take clues from Catholic belief is Davao’s Kadayawan Festival. The Kadayawan Festival initially offered thanksgiving to the Gods Manama and Bulan but nowadays it is celebrated as the Davao’s bountiful harvest.
- The parade of colourful boats must be surely visited.
- Sayaw Mindanaw is a dance competition that showcases different tribes from Davao City.
- There is also Miss Kadayawan beauty contest that provides visitors a glance of lovely and talented Davaoenas.
14. Tuna Festival (September 5)
If there is anything that you immediately link with General Santos City is it’s fresh fish, tuna and others. General Santos is famous as the “Tuna Capital” and hence they have a Tuna festival to celebrate.
- The Tuna Carnival, Tuna Culinary competition, Tuna Fiesta and Miss GenSan pageant are the part of the festival activities
- “Parada sa Dagat”, street dance and float parade are the highlights of the festival.
- Apart from this dragon boat races, fun runs and skim boarding are part of the festivities
15. MassKara Festival (October 1-23)
Bacolod City projects itself as the city of smiles, so no wonder this city celebrates the MassKara festival. The city is full of tourists, locals and parade participants that are seen wearing masks with happy faces during the month of October.
- Street Dancing is the major limelight of the Masskara Festival.
- The Masakara Queen Beauty Pageant, food festival, musical concerts and sports events are some of the attractions of the festival that should not be missed.
16. Higantes Festival (November 22-23)
This festival is celebrated to commemorate San Clemente, the supporter saint of fishermen of the community. The name of the festival was derived from giant effigies which were made in paper mache and are the topmost attraction of the parade. During the mega parade the supporters also carry the statues and images of San Clemente.
- There are around 40 varities of higantes from each barangay that are displayed to lure the people who come to be a part of the festival. The tallest 12 foot high paper-mache giants are the major attraction of the fest.
- The Grand Parade of the Higantes Festival is held every third Saturday of November where people gather to watch the performance of participants from different schools and barangays.
17. Giant Lantern Festival (December 18 – January 1)
This is a unique festival in Philippines that celebrates Parol, which is a symbol for Christmas and hence there is altogether a different festival in its honour. The Giant Lantern festival entices people to come and visit Philippines during the time of this attractive fiesta that is ongoing since 1931 till date.
- A massive lantern is created in beautiful, vibrant colours by each barangay and is displayed in the Grand Lantern Festival. The prize is bagged by the most beautiful parol.