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Festivals

Posted by on May 19th, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, Festival


Most festivals in Philippines are religious in origin, but nowadays the religious component is usually secondary to the general spirit of celebration.

Philippines has dozens of festivals and most towns have their own in addition to the national ones. Filipino hospitality is legendary and at no time is it more in evidence than at festival time.

Here’s a list of the ones you should keep a look out for when planning your vacation in Philippines, we will try to cover each festival more extensively in individual articles. The Read more link will direct you there!

Editor addon

PKTan: If i missed out any other interesting festivals, do leave a comment below, and I will try my best to add it in.

Quiapo – Procession of the Black Nazarene

Date: 9th January
The procession, and the accompanying Feast of the Black Nazarene, takes place every year on 9th January. It is usually the single largest festival of the year in the Philippines and thousands of devotees come to the district of Quiapo to take part in the procession to commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene image (“traslacion”) from Intramuros to Quiapo Church.

Ati-Atihan

Date: 3rd Sunday of January
The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held in honor of the Santo Niño held annually in January concluding on third Sunday, in the town of Kalibo, Aklan in the Philippines. It is the wildest among Philippine fiestas and considered as the Mother of All Philippine festivals. Celebrants paint their faces with black soot and wear bright, outlandish costumes as they dance in revelry during the last three days of this two week-long festival. Catholics and non-Catholics alike observe this special day with processions, parades, dancing, and merrymaking.
Read more on Ati-Atihan Festival


Philippines Festival Kalibo Ati Atihan
Ati-Atihan Festival
Photo by Kickflickr

Sinulog

Date: 3rd Sunday of January
The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño (Holy Child), patron of the city of Cebu. It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuano people’s pagan origin, and their acceptance of Christianity. The festival features a street parade with participants in bright-colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs.


Philippines Cebu SINULOG '07
Sinulog Festival
Photo by 2rokbotoy

Dinagyang

Date: 4th Sunday of January
The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis. Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.


Philippines Dinagyang Festival
Dinagyang Festival
Photo by Blueacid

Panagbenga

Date: February
Panagbenga is month-long annual flower festival occurring in Baguio. The festival, held during the month of February, was created as a tribute to the city’s flowers and as a way to rise up from the devastation of the 1990 Luzon earthquake. The festival includes floats that are decorated with flowers unlike those used in Pasadena’s Rose Parade. The festival also includes street dancing, presented by dancers clad in flower-inspired costumes, that is inspired by the Bendian, an Ibaloi dance of celebration that came from the Cordillera region.


Philippines Panagbenga Festival
Panagbenga Festival
Photo by Whiteknight

Kaamulan

Date: 28th Feb – 1st March
The Kaamulan Festival is a Bukidnon ethnic-cultural festival that takes place from the last week of February to the first week of March. Kaamulan, from the Binukid word amul, “to gather”, is an indigenous Bukidnon term for a gathering for any purpose. It can mean a datukship ritual, a wedding ceremony, a thanksgiving festival during harvest time, a peace pact, or any number of these together. The Festival is held in Malaybalay City from the second half of February to March 10, the anniversary date of the foundation of Bukidnon as a province in 1917,d to celebrate the culture and tradition of the seven ethnic tribal groups—Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon—that originally inhabited the province. It is the only ethnic festival in the Philippines.


Philippines Kaamulan Festival
Kaamulan Festival
Photo by kleo marlo

Moriones

Date: Holy Week
The Moriones is an annual festival held on Holy Week on the island of Marinduque, Philippines. The “Moriones” are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks – Morion means “mask” or “visor,” a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. The Moriones or Moryonan tradition has inspired the creation of other festivals in the Philippines where cultural practices or folk history is turned into street festivals.


Philippines Moriones Festival
Moriones Festival
Photo by ompoint59

Maleldo / Cutud Lenten Rites

Date: Good Friday
Every year on Good Friday or the Friday before Easter a dozen or so penitents – mostly men but with the occasional woman – are taken to a rice field in the barrio of San Pedro Cutud, 3km (2 miles) from the proper of City of San Fernando, Pampanga and nailed to a cross using two-inch (5 cm) stainless steel nails that have been soaked in alcohol to disinfect them. The penitents are taken down when they feel cleansed of their sin. Other penitents flagellate themselves using bamboo sticks tied to a rope.
Read more on Maleldo / Cutud Lenten Rites


Philippines pampanga Maleldo Festival
Maleldo Festival
Photo by ponslizares

Turumba

Date: Between April and May
Every year during the months of April and may, the people of Pakil, in the province of Laguna celebrates the Turumba Festival. It commemorates the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is held 7 times each year between the months of April and May. The first is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday and the last falls on Pentecost Sunday.

Flores de Mayo

Date: 1st May – 31st May
Flores de Mayo is a Catholic festival held in the Philippines in the month of May. It lasts for a month, and is held in honor of the Virgin Mary. The Santa Cruzan is a parade held on the last day of Flores de Mayo in honor of Reyna Elena.

Santacruzan

Date: 31st May
Santacruzan is the queen of Maytime festivals. It is a novena procession, in commemoration of Saint Helena’s finding of the cross. Saint Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great. The procession, however, differs from other religious processions in that it does not parade the usual images of patron saints. Instead, biblical and historical characters are represented by the local people dressed in appropriate costumes.

Carabao

Date: 14th May – 15th May
Begining May 14th, the people of Pulilan in Bulacan Province, San Isidro in Nueva Ecija Province, and Angono in Rizal Province celebrate for two days. On the first day, farmers pay pay homage to the beast of burden which is the farmer’s best friend – the lowly carabao. These animals are very important for farmers because they help till the land. Farmers brush their carabaos’ skin until it is sleek and shiny. Then the carabaos are decorated with ribbons and attached to carts. In the afternoon, farmers lead their carabaos to the church square to be part of the procession. At the church, the carabaos kneel for their blessings. On the second day, the carabaos compete in a friendly race.


Philippines Carabao Festival
Carabao Festival
Photo by Susancorpuz90

Pahiyas

Date: 15th May
Lucban celebrates the Pahiyas Festival in honor of the patron saint of farmers, St. Isidore. This festival showcases a street of houses which are adorned with fruits, vegetables, agricultural products, handicrafts and kiping, a rice-made decoration, which afterwards can be eaten grilled or fried. The houses are judged and the best one is proclaimed the winner.
Read more about Pahiyas Festival.


Family Event Pahiyas Festival Philippines Lucban
Pahiyas Festival
Photo by stitch

Obando Fertility Rites

Date: 17th May – 19th May
“Santa Clarang pinong-pino, Ang pangako ko ay ganito, Pagdating ko sa Obando, Sasayaw ako ng pandanggo.” The Obando Fertility Rites are a Filipino dance ritual. Every year during the month of May, to the tune of musical instruments made out of bamboo materials, the men, women and children of Obando, Bulacan, Philippines wear traditional dance costumes to dance on the streets followed by the images of their patron saints San Pascual Baylon (St. Paschal), Santa Clara (St. Clare) and Nuestra Señora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao), while singing the song Santa Clara Pinung-Pino. The feast days or dance festivals are held for three consecutive days: May 17 for St. Paschal, May 18 for St. Claire and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambaw. What makes the Obando fiesta unique among Philippine festivals is the dance performed in the streets by the childless women.

Pintados

Date: 29th June
The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is a merry-making event lasting a whole month, highlights of which include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation and the Pagrayhak Grand Parade. These festivals are said to have begun from the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, held every June 29th. The Leyteños celebrate a religious festival in a unique and colorful way. Since the Visayans are experienced in the art of body tattooing, men and women are fond of tattooing themselves.

Kadayawan

Date: Third week of August
The Kadayawan Festival is an annual festival in the city of Davao in the Philippines. Its name derives from the friendly greeting “Madayaw”, from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw”, meaning good, valuable, superior or beautiful. The festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

Davao Kadayawan Festival
Kadayawan Festival
Photo by Belarminoed

Penafrancia Fluvial

Date: Third Saturday and Sunday of September
The Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. During the festivities, people attend church services, followed by parades on the streets, fireworks, and feasting. The ninth day, usually falling on the third Saturday of September, is marked by a fluvial procession. The image of the Virgin Mary is carried on a barge which is trailed by thousands of devotees in boats gliding alongside. People who line the river banks shout “Viva la Virgen! as the Virgin passes by.


Philippines Penafrancia Fluvial Festival
Peñafrancia Fluvial Festival
Photo by Sir Mervs

MassKara

Date: 3rd weekend nearest to 19th October
The MassKara Festival is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental province. The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see colorfully-masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina. The word MassKara has a double meaning. First, it is a fusion of the English word “mass” or many and “kara”, the Spanish word for “face.” MassKara then becomes a “mass of faces,” and these faces have to be smiling to project Bacolod already known in the late 70’s as the City of Smiles.


Philippines Masskara Festival
MassKara Festival
Photo by Keith Cabillon

Lanzones

Date: 25th October
Each year there is a Lanzones (a small grape-sized tropical fruit) Festival held in October. The week-long festival is one of the more colorful events in the Philippines. The Lanzones festival is celebrating its 30th Anniversary on October 2009.


Philippines Lanzones Festival
Lanzones Festival
Photo by Grandmasterson

Higantes

Date: 23rd November
Angono celebrates the “Higantes Festival” which coincides with the Feast of Saint Clement, the Patron Saint of Angono. Higantes Festival is now promoted as tourism-generating event in the country. This attracts numerous tourist from all over the world. The higantes are made of paper-mache. Higantes measures four to five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. Traditionally, it began in the last century when Angono was a Spanish hacienda. This higantes was influenced by the Mexican art form of paper-mache brought by the Spanish priests to the Philippines.
Read more on Higantes Festival


Philippines Higantes Festival
Higantes Festival
Photo by aspirecaptured

Giant Lanterns

Date: December – Saturday before Christmas Eve
The Giant Lanterns Festival is an annual festival held in December (Saturday before Christmas Eve) in the City of San Fernando in the Philippines. The festival features a competition of giant lanterns. Because of the popularity of the festival, the city has been nicknamed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.
Read more on Giant Lanterns Festival


Philippines pampanga giant lantern festival
Giant Lanterns Festival
Photo by ianong

Misa de Gallo

Date: 16th December – 25th December
Traditionally, Christmas Day in the Philippines is ushered in by the nine-day dawn masses that start on December 16. Known as the Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish and in Filipino as Simbang Gabi, or “Night Mass”, this novena of Masses is the most important Filipino Christmas tradition.

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PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He loves advising travellers to Philippines and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Philippines with everyone. Learn more about me [+]

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44 Responses to “Festivals”

  1. Ryan says:

    Hey Pk. Awesome post mate!

  2. Tammy says:

    Great roundup on the different festivals, will come back more for those detailed write up on individual festivals! More power to your site!

    ‘Tam

  3. Hi Pktan, nice feature on Philippine festivals!
    I notice though your featured photo on the Higantes Festival of Angono aren’t the traditional Higantes that made Angono famous.

    I can share with you a link to the Higantes festival of Angono.

    thanks and more power!

    • pktan says:

      Hey, Thanks for the link. The page looks great, and lots of information on Angono.

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Angono Art City,

      I will be featuring Rizal very soon so please wait for it soon!

      Cheers!

      Ryan

      • thanks Ryan! quite excited to see your article on Rizal province, particularly Angono.

        • Ryan says:

          Going to Rizal next weekend and will be staying at Thunderbird Resorts at nearby Binangonan. I heard it is close to Angono and I would like to drop by the petroglyphs and the higantes there. :) Help maybe on how to get to Angono from Thunderbird Resorts. :)

          • Hi! Ryan,

            I dont know where your coming from but there are two entry points to Thunderbird Fiesta Resort; and both of them via Angono.

            1. the upper Angono route via Antipolo – Angono (Mahabang Parang) road.
            2. the lower Angono route via Manila East Road – if you’re taking this route, you’re absolutely in Angono, you’ll pass by the famous exotic restaurant and art gallery – Balaw Balaw and also Nemiranda Art Gallery.

            Angono Petroglyphs is very near to Thunderbird, if im not mistaken it is about a 20 minute walk from Thunderbird.
            But, if you want to explore the art galleries of Angono like Blanco Family Museum & Orville DR Tiamson Art Gallery, go to downtown Angono ( about 15 mins downhill drive).

            If you want to experience the Higantes! its better to be back in Angono on November 22-23 for the Higantes Festival, though you may see some of it displayed at Balaw Balaw and at Blanco Family Museum.

            Hope this helps.

            • Ryan says:

              Thanks I think this is very helpful. I am really excited on seeing the petroglyphs and I think we would have time to check out the art galleries but are they open during weekends?

              Btw I saw a Rizal Artists Festival being advertised on TV this month… Perchance there is something going on next weekend??

              Thanks again, looking forward in enjoying Rizal. :)

              • You’re welcome! sorry but I don’t have information on Rizal Arts Festival, maybe you can have detailed info on it while you’re in any one of the art galleries in Angono. Enjoy your art & cultural tour of Angono!

  4. Mel says:

    Amazing work on this! Really help me in planning out my trip, will love to see more of these cultural attractions covered on the site!

    Too bad I missed the Moriones festival, the Roman soldiers look spectacular. Will love to purchase one of these to bring home!

  5. darl says:

    thnks pktan for featuring this…. work appreciated…. just wanna ask you to add our festival, THE KALIMUDAN FESTIVAL of Sultan Kudarat…thanks..we celebrate it this coming third week of November

    • pktan says:

      Hi Darl,

      Thanks : )) Will do so after i’ve gathered the information! and a nice photo to go along with it!

    • Ryan says:

      Hi darl,

      I got friends from Tacurong- hope to visit Sultan Kudarat sometime next year. Maybe we can feature that as well along with the Sultan Kudarat article. Not sure yet, but we intend to visit Davao Oriental, Sarangani, Surigao Provinces, Misamis Occidental next year. Maybe we can drop by your place – maybe you can adopt us when we visit your province?:)

      Cheers,

      Ryan

  6. vivian says:

    good morning! could you please send me pictures of the different festivals in the Philippines? Thank you very much!

    • pktan says:

      You can find the pictures using Flickr.com , the link under each picture here will also bring you to the photographer’s portfolio.

  7. lei says:

    you missed the consecrated and vibrant Hermosa Festival of Asia’s Latin City, Zamboanga…

  8. annie says:

    For me the only Best Festival of the Philippines, No One Beat the Beats of DINAGYANG Festival of Iloilo City. It is the Most Unique, Artistic,in Performance,Excellent Innovations,Excellent Choreo and Very Organized World Class Performance.It is very different from any other festivals of the Philippines

    • Ryan says:

      Hi annie,

      I think every festival is different from each own. However, I have seen Dinagyang myself for at least 4 years straight, and they are no different from the other choreographed festivals in the Philippines like Sinulog of Cebu for instance. Unique, I’d rather say not. Dinagyang started only as an offshoot of the Kalibo Ati-atihan actually. Dinagyang was started only in the 1970s compared to the 798 year history of Kalibo Ati-atihan which is recognised as one of the top festivals in the world. Lucban’s Pahiyas is very unique as well compared to Dinagyang as it doesn’t have any of that at all!

      Let’s put our insular outlook in check and let us just be proud that we have a colorful culture and artistry all over the country. We are not just promoting cities and provinces, we are promoting the entire country. Crab mentality and further city versus city comments will not be tolerated in these pages. Small-town mentality is not good. Let us keep it as Philippine Pride.

      Cheers!

      Ryan

      • Rane says:

        Thank you for recognizing the history of Kalibo Ati-Atihan! Not because that i am an Aklanon, but i joined, observed, enjoyed also from other festivals like Maskara and Dinagyang Festival, but I proved to my friends that Ati-Atihan Festival is the mother of all festivals. The group dance steps is natural dance and not choreographed like mostly with the other festivals but most importantly visitors both locals and foreigners can join and dance within the area of Poblacion of Kalibo to anybody or any group of this event.

        God Bless!

  9. jake says:

    hi,

    what is the safest way to go to marinduque for the moriones festival? zest air appears to be the only airline servicing the island but its recent crashes say it’s not a safe option. and there have been sinkings around near and around the island too. suppose there’s always a risk but how do most people get there?

    thanks and more power!

    jake

  10. Chito says:

    Jake,

    Since Marinduque is relatively near, most people ride a bus or rent a van going all the way to the port of Lucena to catch a ferryboat (Ro-Ro) going to Marinduque. The leading shipping company is Montenegro Lines. The whole journey lasts about 8 hours all in all.

    Based on experience, the scene at the port during Holy Week is chaotic, so it’s really a personal choice whether you want to avoid all the hassle and just fly to Marinduque instead.

    Take note that ZestAir/Asian Spirit hasn’t had crashes lately, while as far as Philippine ferrieboats go, overloading is a real concern and that technical problems are not a monopoly of air transportation. I was in Marinduque last Holy Week and my boatride home was delayed because one of Montenegro’s Ro-Ros stalled in the middle of the sea. Passengers had to wait for three hours in the middle of the sea before another boat was dispatched to haul them to the destination port.

  11. Euginie Lee says:

    Hello, im very interested with this colorful country. Hope that I can get more information for the full details of the events listing in Philipines for the whole year. Can anyone suggest where can I have it? Thank you

    Cheers
    Euginie

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Euginie,

      There are heaps of other Festivals year round. I believe the Official Tourism site of the Philippines has a monthly listing of festivals… I havent seen one full list yet because there are too many to list…

      The ones listed here are the major ones however.

      Ryan

  12. Euginie Lee says:

    ic, currently Im searching for the official website tourism board for this beautiful country. And I only find out the major one, hopefully I can found the listed events more to tournaments & international competitions. exhibitions etc.

    Cheers
    Euginie Lee

    • Ryan says:

      Oh you meant international competitions, and exhibitions… Unfortunately, I cant find one myself… But sometimes when I find one, I post it on our Facebook fansite – Tourism Paradise Philippines…

  13. Rod says:

    Mabuhay.. Best Tourism Event of the Philippines The Dinagyang Festival. The Festival Capital of the Philippines.

  14. Roger says:

    Dinagyang Started 1967 not 70s additional info lang he he he but that is the original time of dinagyang . I agree that dinagyang has the same concept with ati-atihan of kalibo ,it is because they are both the same people of panay but kalibo they started earlier but when it comes to presentation ati-atihan is an individual independent dance only but Dinagyang is more creative and well choreo and more unique. and i dont agree pahiyas is more beautiful than Dinagyang because i had been there. But in totality i love all philippine fiestas. But i dont agree only that pahiyas is more unique than the Best Tourism Event of the Philippines which the Dinagyang. Mabuhay Philippine Fiestas.

  15. ana says:

    thank you to you…………..its very useful to me……….because its our assignment to search about the fiestas in the different places in the Philippines………GOD BLESS AND GOOD LUCK TO YOU……..^_^

  16. khrisna says:

    you missed the ibalong festival in legazpi city ;-p

  17. john paul says:

    tahnk you for the information you”ve given to us!it”s very important to me this information!thank you

  18. edmar says:

    pakilagay naman ang bakhaw festival ”i’m sure they will like it ” and also i would like to say ”this is the best of best festival’s i ever scene”thank you”

  19. Jane says:

    I like this website!!! Nakita ko lahat ng kailangan ko dito.

  20. Hili says:

    ” WOW” World Class talaga ang Dinagyang Festival ng Iloilo City, the Queen Festival of the Philippines or The Authentic Best Festival of the Philippines…..Mabuhay Philippines.

  21. Natalia says:

    I was in malaybalai in 1992 and there was a festival but it was not in feb but september, is that also kaamulan?

  22. I think you need to add the Bonok-bonok Festival of Surigao City every 10th of September. It’s the “Marajaw Karajaw Bonok-Bonok Festival”…..try to witness also its grandious celbration…thank you…

  23. mahendra singh digari says:

    thank you to you…………..its very useful to me……….because its our assignment to search about the fiestas in the different places in the Philippines………GOD BLESS AND GOOD LUCK TO YOU…my ganda i love u ^_^

  24. Robert says:

    Moriones Festival is the mother of all the festivals in Philippines. It’s being celebrated since 1600s. It is where other festivals or fiestas in the country got inspirations to create their own. Moriones was discovered by media in Marinduque during the 60’s.

  25. lanskido says:

    hinde gagayahin ang ati-atihan kung hinde ito the more fun and the oldest festival sa bansa.

  26. Mari Krishna Alejo says:

    sinulog picture is so beautiful!the feast of the black nazarene “ay napuntahan ng aking kaklase”!

  27. maria monica lopez says:

    its so nice in lucban the pahiyas festival was so wonderful i seen a lot of house full of decoration.

  28. Blake says:

    Hope you could include MAGAYON FESTIVAL in Albay…One of the best festivals I’ve witnessed so far in the Philippines.

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