Fiestas (festivals) and merry-making, a reflection of the fun nature of the Filipinos, are deeply-entrenched into the Philippine culture. Each place (from the city/municipality down to the smallest of the barrios/barangays) in the country celebrates at least one festival, usually to honor a patron saint. All these make the Philippine a year-round, fun travel destination.
Deeply religious, this Catholic-dominated nation has Spain (and its 300+ years of colonization) to thank for the culture of fiestas, having hundreds of patron saints to revere and honor through a feast in their name. Fiestas in the Philippines mean colorful parades and processions, creative and flamboyant costumes, extravagant cuisines and festive decors and celebrations. The longest and the most festive of them all is Christmas,; its season starts in the – BER (September-October-November-December) months and ends after the celebration of Three Kings on January 6.
It’s Year-round of Fun
There are thousands of fiestas in the Philippines. If you are looking for a fun destination, Philippines should be on your bucket list. You can come anytime; there’s always more than one place having a fiesta at any day of the year. If you want to join in the fun of the biggest ones, check out the month-to-month list in the Filipino Travel Center’s post Philippines Festivals. The most popular ones catching international tourists’ attention are:
FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE
January 9th – Quiapo, Manila
“… The festival is marked by an afternoon procession by thousands of devotees…”
January 16-22 – Kalibo, Aklan
“… Ati-atihan is a celebration in honor of the Sto. Niño. Revelers don colorful costumes and paint their bodies black and dance to the distinctive(sic) beat of “Hala bira!” around the town.”
Every third weeken of January – Cebu City, Cebu
“The Feast of the Sto. Niño is celebrated … with a procession, street dancing competition and a fluvial parade. … the Sinulog Festival is marked by frenzied revelry (sic) to the chant of “Pit Senor!”
23 February-3 March, Baguio City
This Flower Festival turns the highland Baguio City into one big party with the dancing revelers and floats, all dressed up in multi-hued, elaborate flower-themed costumes, gliding down the street.
March 9 – Region XII
This the festivity held to mark the ending of the month-long Ramadan fasting. The Muslim Filipinos celebrate the day with rituals and , what else but food. The one they give to charity is called “zakat al-fitr.”
Holy Week – Boac,Magpoc, Marinduque
This is a festival reenacting the life of Longinus. The towns of Boac, Gasan and Morpog are literally transformed into stages to showcase the unfolding of events.
May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Nationwide
This feast celebrates St. Helena’s finding of the “True Cross.” The procession showcases a sagalas, representing biblical characters and the Reina Elena escorted by a boy signifying King Constantine.
PARADA NG LECHON
June 24 – Balayan, Batangas
The feast is in honor of St. John the Baptist. What makes it memorable is the procession of “lechon” (roasted pigs) donning colorful costumes.
June 29 – Tacloban City
This celebration highlights the Leyteños’ traditional custom of tattooing signifying bravery and rank in the community.
BOCAUE RIVER FESTIVAL
First Sunday of July – Bocaue, Bulacan
The highlight of the feast is the fluvial parade on board a “pagoda” to honor f the miraculous Cross of Bocaue (Krus ng Wawa).
KADAYAWAN SA DABAW
3rd Week of August – Davao City
Kadayawan is a festival of thanksgiving for the bountiful yields of fruits and orchids during the harvest season. It also features the rich culture and ethnicities of Davao.
LEMLUNAY (T’BOLI TRIBAL FESTIVAL)
Septermber 16-18 – Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
This T’boli tribal festival highlights authentic tribal rituals from dawn amidst resonating gongs and other native musical instruments.
FEAST OF NUESTRA SEÑORA DE PEÑAFRANCIA
3rd Saturday of September – Naga City, Camarines Sur
The week-long feast is done in honor of the of most revered patroness of Bicol. The highlight is a fluvial parade down the Bicol River.
October 19 – Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Masskara Festival is a huge event that can be likened to Mardi gras with costumed and masked street dancing.
FEAST OF SAN CLEMENTE / HIGANTES FESTIVAL
November 22-23 – Angono, Rizal
This Angono fiesta held in honor of San Clemente is known for its giant paper mache effigies called “higantes” (giants in the vernacular) and devotees in costumes (including “bakya” or wooden shoes and carrying of boat paddles). “The street event culminates in a fluvial procession in Laguna de Bay amidst revelry…”
SAN FERNANDO GIANT LANTERN FESTIVAL
December – Ermita, Manila
This is a celebration paying tribute to “parol,” the Filipino’s star-shaped Christmas lantern. Making avant-garde designs from the basic concept became noteworthy in scope and importance in San Fernando, Pampanga.
The Philippines is a conglomeration of over 7,100 islands; each one is unique and beautiful in its own way. If you are looking for fun, come anytime. Visitors are welcome in these fiestas.