Last Updated on January 29, 2020 by Lamudi
When it comes to colorful, joyous celebrations, Filipinos go big and do it effortlessly. This coming year, consider visiting a festival or two — or ten, if you can. It’s the best way to tick off items on your travel bucket list.
Get those vacation leaves ready and take note of these schedules of festivals all over the country:
Celebrated every third Sunday of January in Cebu, this colorful celebration is done in honor of the miraculous image of Sto. Niño. Expect to see a lot of street dances at this festival. “Sinulog” was coined from a native term that means “like water flow,” so the steps dancers make resemble ocean currents. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking (and partying at night). This year, the theme of the festival focuses on how Señor Santo Niño encourages unity and charity.
This is also held every third Sunday of January, but this time, it’s in Aklan. Ati-atihan means “to be like Aetas,” the early settlers on the island. According to historians, Aetas welcomed datus from Borneo who came to the land. They then celebrated the friendship, holding the first Ati-atihan, so to speak. Similar to Sinulog, there’s a lot of dancing and partying during this festival. Parades are filled with giant floats and colorful costumes.
Hosted in Taytay, Rizal, this is a celebration of the artistry, craftsmanship, and talent of Taytayeños. Hamaka stands for “hamba” (woodworks), “makina” (machines, specifically sewing equipment), and “kasuotan” (garments), the three major items produced in the municipality. The week-long festival, which is often held in the second or third week of February, is filled with various events, from parades and pageants to fashion shows, concerts, and bike races.
“Panagbenga” is a native term that means “a time for bloom.” An event honoring the history, traditions, and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras, the event attracts a lot of tourists, both local and foreign. This year, the festival will be happening on February 29 until March 8. Expect to see an awesome landscaping exhibition, cultural dance competition, and of course, the grand street dance parade. Book your accommodations early, so you won’t have trouble finding lodging or transient homes when the next year comes.
Anibina Bulawanon Festival
Celebrated on the first week of March, this fiesta commemorates the bountiful gold harvest and the founding anniversary of Compostela province, which is now called Davao de Oro. The name is taken from three terms: “ani,” meaning harvest; “bina,” which refers to gold veins; and finally, “bulawanon,” which means golden. During the festival, the people’s cultures and traditions are highlighted.
The mask-filled Marinduque festival happens during Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday, so this coming year, it will run from April 5 to 12. Expect to see eye-catching centurion masks and costumes, as well as dance performances, sword fights, and even pranks. People who participate in the festival also take the opportunity to reflect on their spiritual lives, sometimes reenacting Christ’s sufferings by carrying a cross, whipping their own backs, and having themselves crucified.
Held every 15th of May in Lucban, Quezon, the festival honors San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. The name of the celebration comes from the term “payas,” which means decorate. Aptly, during the event, you’ll find houses adorned with fruits, vegetables, and rice grains dyed with food coloring. As you make your way through the colorful homes, don’t forget to try the delicacies served by different households. More than being Instagram-worthy, they’re super yummy.
Women who have trouble getting pregnant flock to Bulacan to dance at this festival. Happening every May 17 to 19, the event honors three patron saints, St. Paschal, St. Claire, and Our Lady of Salambaw. The first two saints are believed to grant male and female children, respectively. The last one, meanwhile, is the patroness of fishermen. Plot Bulacan in your mid-year trip. It’s now much easier to get there, with the near completion of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway extension.
The entire area of Camiguin beams with joy and color when the 24th of June comes. The people show their reverence for St. John the Baptist during Hibok-Hibok festival, heading to beaches where they camp and enjoy the day. Food is never a problem for Camiguenos. Tourists who go there without food are given native delicacies and traditional Filipino food. Sometimes, the local government organizes beauty pageants, so that’s one thing to watch out for. The name of the festival is taken from the lone active volcano in the province.
This happens every first Sunday of July in Bocaue, Bulacan. It’s a commemoration of that historic event when locals found the miraculous cross floating on the river. One thing you will definitely enjoy is the parade of colorful, beautiful boats. Remember to book your trips and accommodations early, as inns and hotels can easily get filled up with tourists who are devotees of the Holy Cross of Wawa.
Lucban not only goes big on decorated houses, but on literal giants, too. Its streets are filled with gigantes, often in pairs to portray couples, every 19th of August. The giant husbands are dressed in camisa chino, while the wives have blouses and skirts. Most people participate in carrying the giants as part of their panata in life. Angono, Rizal also has the same fiesta, which is held every November.
Naga’s biggest and most popular event is its most religious, too. Celebrated every third Saturday of September, the feast is an honor to the region’s patron, Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The religious event begins with the transfer of the image of the Virgin from its shrine to the Naga Cathedral, followed by the novena. Then, on the last day of the feast, it will be brought back to its shrine. The people shout “Viva la Virgen” (Long live the Virgin!) to express their admiration for the patron saint.
Sarakiki, a Waray term, refers to the behavior of a rooster when trying to attract a hen or when fighting with another rooster. In the feast, held every first week of September in Calbayog, Samar, you’ll find street dancers imitating the movements of the roosters, with the musical accompaniment coming from ancient Samareño instruments. The festival is filled with activities, from art exhibits to local artists’ concerts.
This famous festival in the City of Smiles runs for almost the entire month of October. The celebration is marked by different affairs, including a fair, a concert, a fashion show, a fun run, a talent night, and many more. But of course, the main event is the grand parade, which showcases all the colorful, eye-catching masks. It’s interesting that the festival was borne out of a slump in Negros Occidental’s economy. Artists found mask-making as a viable alternative livelihood.
Sorsogon becomes the liveliest municipality in the Bicol region when mid-October arrives. Kasanggayahan Festival is a commemoration of the province’s foundation. An old Bikolano word, “kasanggayahan” means a life of prosperity. Like other feasts, it’s filled with various activities, from sporting events to arts festivals to trade expos and street folk dances. The Bicol region is set to be more accessible in the coming years, as more infrastructure projects emerge in relation to the Build, Build, Build program.
Celebrated in the first week of November, this festival in San Carlos, Negros Occidental showcases young people wearing embellished costumes with floral tattoos on their faces and bodies. The lead dancer is supposed to be a representation of Princess Nabingka, the main protagonist in the province’s popular folk tale, who needed flower tattoos herself to be cured of an illness. Prepare to get your groove on as the festival features a series of street dances.
Shariff Kabunsuan Festival
This colorful feast happens every December 15 in Cotabato. It commemorates the arrival of the Arab preacher Shariff Kabunsuan in the locale in the 16th century. He’s a central figure in the spread of the Islam religion in Mindanao. One thing people anticipate in this event is the Guinakit (which means a convoy of boats) fluvial parade along the banks of Rio Grande de Mindanao. The boats are adorned with Muslim cloth sporting bright hues, like yellow, red, and green. A dance interpretation in sync with traditional music is also part of the celebration.
Be a better traveler this 2020 by timing your vacations with these colorful, lively celebrations. By the end of another year, it’s a guarantee, you’ll discover why it’s really more fun in the Philippines.