Hala Bira! Iloilo Dinagyang Festival Schedule and Highlights

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One of the best words in the Ilonggo vocabulary, “dinagyang,” means merrymaking. True enough, the festival named after the word is an event marked by happy faces and lively dances with the background of excited drum beats. But the cheery Dinagyang Festival isn’t a celebration for the sake of celebration only: it’s done in honor of the Santo Niño. 

If you’re planning to visit Iloilo to join throngs of devotees this coming week, refer to this Dinagyang 2020 schedule of activities, summarized from their Facebook page:

Dinagyang Schedule of Activities

January 10

6:00 PM: Hala Bira Opening Salvo featuring 

  • Hala Bira Cinekasimanwa Dagyang Edition Premiere Night
  • Hala Bira Rampa
  • Hala Bira Banda (Festive Walk Mall Activity Area)

January 11-25: 

Hala Bira Cinekasimanwa Dagyang Edition (Select Malls)

January 18: 

6:00 PM: Hala Bira Dinagyang Week Opening featuring the Ilonggo arts community (SM City Southpoint)

January 20-21

Hala Bira Drama Saot Kag Kanta featuring:

  • USA Little Theater
  • Iloilo Theater Festival Community
  • Iloilo Choral Groups
  • Iloilo dance community (Cinema 6, SM City Iloilo; Robinson’s Place Jaro Iloilo)

January 22 

2:00 PM-6:00 PM: Hala Bira Baile featuring:

  • Nila Clarvall-Gonzalez School of Classical Ballet
  • Sol Fernandez School of Dance
  • The Annie Divinagracia-Sartorio School of Performing Arts
  • Pauline Cordero Dingcong School of Performing Arts (SM City Iloilo)

January 22-25

Hala Bira sa Esplanade 

January 23

7:00PM: Miss Iloilo Coronation Night (WVSU Cultural Center)

January 23-26

Ilonggo Food Festival (IHRRA: Delgado Street)

January 24

Hala Bira Rampa (Robinson’s Place Iloilo)

8:00 AM: Tambor: Trumpa Martsa Musika (Freedom Grandsand)
3:00 PM: Fluvial and Solemn Foot Procession (Muelle Loney; Calle Real)
6:00 PM: Float Parade of Lights (Diversion Road to Iloilo Business Park)
9:00 PM-9:30 PM: Fireworks Display (Iloilo Business Park; SM City Iloilo)

January 25: 

7:00 AM-8:30 AM: Mass (San Jose de Placer Church)
8:30 AM-6:00 PM: Dagyang sa Calle Real (Calle Real)
1:00 PM-3:00 PM: Dinagyang Festive Parade (Freedom Grandstand)
6:00 PM-7:00 PM: Lighting Ceremony (Calle Real)
7:00 PM-8:00 PM: Religious Sadsad (San Jose Parish Plaza Libertad)
8:30 PM-10:00PM Concert featuring IV of Spades and December Avenue (Calle Real)

January 26

Hala Bira Banda (Calle Real)

8:00 AM: Dinagyang 360 Tribe° Competition (Freedom Grandstand, Iznart-Solis, Valeria Ledesma, Central Market)
5PM: Viva Dinagyang! Award Ceremony (Freedom Grandstand)

Highlights of the Festival

Hala Bira Dinagyang Arts Festival

Local artists will take the spotlight in a major event dubbed as Hala Bira Dinagyang Arts Festival. The activities are spread throughout the month-long celebration. It kicks off with the Opening Salvo, headlined by creatives from different arts categories. 

The Hala Bira CineKasimanwa will show Ilonggo films in different malls. Hala Bira Drama Saot kag Kanta will feature theater groups, chorale ensembles, and dance troupes. Dance artists will also headline Hala Bira Baile, but the event will especially focus on ballerinas.

Meanwhile, Hala Bira sa Esplanade will showcase the installation art and performances from music artists. Iloilo young designers, on the other hand, will take the spotlight on Hala Bira Rampa. If you’re a band junkie, Hala Bira Banda, which will feature Iloilo local bands playing original Hiligaynon songs, is definitely something you shouldn’t miss.

Dinagyang Tribes Competition

This is perhaps the biggest cultural performance throughout the festival. Basically, groups of people act like warrior-dancers. All covered in dark brown body paint, they stage a tableau of scenarios from native myths through eye-catching formations, props, and costumes. While dancing to the loud drum beats and indigenous musical instruments, they chant with a loud voice. It’s reported that this year, eight tribes will be competing.

Dagyang sa Calle Real

As you can infer from the event name, this activity is all about merrymaking on the streets. This is the first time Iloilo will hold something like this, so it will be really nice to be part of this milestone. While the tribes competition is more of a spectator event, this is more participatory. Everybody’s free to join the street dancing activity.

Fluvial Procession

In this activity, the images of the Santo Niño will be transferred from Fort San Pedro to Muelle Loney Street through boats sailing along the Iloilo River. From there, the procession proceeds on foot passing by the provincial capitol and then finally concluding at the San Jose Parish Church.

The Dinagyang Festival is one of the most joyous and colorful feasts in the country. Seize the merrymaking with friends and strangers alike and shout with cheer: Hala Bira!

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