8 unique festivals celebrated in the Philippines
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There’s nothing quite like the energy of a festival back home. The way the beats of the music vibrate through your body, the bright colours of the traditional dress, the delicious smells of the food stalls… it’s all a recipe for pure joy. It’s no wonder we miss it so much when we’re away. Whether it’s a carnival, a cultural celebration, or a holiday, these events bring communities together in a way that nothing else can.
The good news is, we don’t have to just sit and daydream about the good times. We can plan that trip back home, book that flight, and experience it all over again. So, let’s chime in, dance to the beat of the drums, and enjoy all the magic that comes with being back in the middle of those festivals we know and love.
Sinulog Festival (Sto. Nino Festival)
When: In the month of January
Have you ever heard of the Sto. Nino? It may be unfamiliar to some, but it is a beloved symbol for many Filipinos.
The Sto. Nino translates to Holy Child and is a representation of the child Jesus, and a symbol of how Catholicism started in the Philippines. Every January, people from all over the country visit to join in on Sinulog. The festive event consists of street parties, dances, parades and singing. This rhythmic celebration draws in at least 1 million visitors annually, offering the opportunity to tour the city and embrace local communion.
The word “Sinulog” is derived from the word “sulog” meaning “water current movement” which is depicted in the parading dance. The Sinulog is a comforting and intrinsic part of Philippine culture that welcomes locals and visitors alike.
When: In the month of February
Are you a flower lover? If so, then you would never want to miss the Panagbenga Festival – the most amazing flower celebration that lasts for a whole month! This grand event is all about showcasing the beautiful flowers that bloom during the season in the city of Baguio. You will see various splendid floats and displays conveying the cultural heritage of the city, native dances, and food markets that will make your mouth water!
This incredible festival pays tribute to the stunning flowers that grace the city with their mesmerizing beauty. Get excited to soak in the vibrant hues and sweet fragrances of the blooms that capture the essence of Baguio and celebrate its one-of-a-kind cultural traditions – you wouldn’t want to miss this extraordinary showcase, would you?
When: Every 4th Sunday of October
It’s hard not to smile when talking about the MassKara Festival in Bacolod, known as one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines! The celebration, which draws comparisons to Brazil’s iconic Rio Carnival, is all about “many faces”, or MassKara in the local language. And it’s no surprise why Bacolod has become known as the city of smiles.
The event was first created as a way to boost the spirits of those affected by a terrible famine and a devastating ferry accident. But it has since grown into a world-renowned spectacle filled with cheerful masks made from coconut husks and paper maché. The MassKara Festival is proof of how the power of joy and positivity can bring a community together to celebrate all the good things life has to offer.
When: Holy Week – In the month of March and/or April
If you thought the Sinulog Festival was the only celebration of Catholicism in the Philippines, think again! The Moriones Festival is another amazing event that’s not to be missed. The festival is steeped in tradition and features people dressed in elaborate costumes and masks of Roman soldiers, just like in the old days. The festival recounts the story of Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye, and the trials and tribulations he faced in the Bible. You’ll witness a range of activities, from recitations of Biblical verses to a reenactment of Christ’s suffering before the crucifixion. The Moriones Festival is a happy and joyous celebration of faith and culture, and you won’t want to miss it!
When: June 24
Where: Balayan, Batangas
Food has a way of lifting our spirits and bringing us together, and the people of Batangas have taken this to a whole new level with their celebration of the delicious, slow-cooked Lechon. This festival is a true feast for the senses, with an array of mouth-watering pork dishes, a parade of roasted pigs, and even water splashes to cool off in the scorching heat.
What’s more, the festival is deeply rooted in tradition and gratitude, as families come together to express their thanks for being able to set aside money for the enormous meal, and to pay homage to St. John the Baptist. Whether you’re a foodie, a culture buff, or just someone who loves a good party, the Batangas Lechon Festival is not to be missed!
When: 15th & 16th May
Where: Angono, Bulacan San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and Pulilan
Wow, who knew that the national animal of the Philippines is the Carabao or Kalabaw (water buffalo)?
They are also vital for farmers to produce a good quality harvest and are truly a treasure of the Philippines.
But that’s not all – the Carabao holds a significant role in Filipino culture! Once a year, on the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, also known as the farmer’s patron saint, the kneeling Carabao festival takes place. It’s a sight to behold as around 300 Carabaos gather in front of the San Isidro Parish Church to kneel and give thanks. The festival is a celebration of Filipino culture and features marching bands, colourful carts, and unique clothes.
Here’s a fun fact for you -these Carabaos are actually trained to kneel since childhood? What an incredible creature!
When: Fourth week of January
Believe it or not, there’s a festival out there that’s all about sharks! In the town of Donsol, Sorsogon, this annual event is dedicated to celebrating the presence of whale sharks – also known as “butanding” to the locals.
Not only do these magnificent creatures bring wonder and awe to those who witness them, but they’ve also had a tremendous impact on the region’s economy. Tourists from all over the globe flock to the area to see and swim with the gentle giants, and the locals have responded with yearly celebrations brimming with dancing, music, and parades.
With a tradition that goes back a century, this festival is not to be missed if you find yourself in this corner of the world!
Paraw Regatta Festival
When: Generally in the month of February
Where: Iloilo City
Get ready to set sail on an adventure in Villa de Arevalo! The annual sailboat festival is one of Iloilo city’s most exciting tourism events. The festivities celebrate the pride of the Philippines – their love for the sea! As you watch the sailboat race featuring the “paraw” (a traditional local sailboat with two outriggers and two sails), you’ll see the beautiful craftsmanship and design of each vessel.
All “paraws” are classified according to their different themes and designs, making it an even more thrilling sight to see. This 30km (about 18.64 mi) course is a test of the sailors’ skills and the boats’ seaworthiness.
Join the excitement and witness the passion of the locals for the sea and the art of sailboat racing!
Before you go…
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*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.
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