You might think you know how to party, but wait until you experience a celebration in the Philippines. Whether it’s a feast, harvest or holy ceremony, we can guarantee that each event will be executed with the brightest colors, most extravagant costumes and upbeat rhythms. All year round, Philippine festivals invite you to explore culture and cuisine across each of the beautiful islands. For those of you that want to enjoy the festival fever, look no further than the Philippines.
Ati-Atihan – January
Now around 800 years old, this is the wildest and most colorful celebration in the Philippines. On the third week of January, the local residents of Kalibo lather brightly colored paints onto their skin, and stick feathers on their bodies in preparation for a week long parade in remembrance of Santo Niño. There is no change in dynamics between sunrise and sundown, the rhythm of the drums and the vibrancy of the parades continue on creating an infectious atmosphere. You’ll hear passionate chants for the worshipped Santo Niño and be mesmerised by the exceptional decoration. This is an all day, all night celebration, not for the faint hearted.
Sinulog Festival – January
A fascinating festival that aims to connect the history and culture of the past, with contemporary Philippines culture, Sinulog Festival is broadly described as a festival that honours the image and significance (past and present) of Santo Niño. Sinulog has been taking place for over 20 years in Cebu city, and attracts revellers, costume-makers, and culture-seekers from across the world. Though there are photo contests, film contests, and fun-runs all on offer, the main feature is unquestionably the grand parade. Wave after wave of color, dance, and pageantry snakes through streets that become increasingly excitable as the entire Cebu community comes out in full force.
Dinagyang Festival – January
Described by some as Iloilo city’s version of the famed Ati-Atihan festival, this jubilant and colorful celebration has been going strong for over 50 years. Vibrant costumes, rhythmic dances, and even sports competitions are all on display here in order to celebrate the history and crafting skill of the fascinating Ilonggos. Dinagyang, which loosely translates as ‘revelry’, is a festival that encourages spectators to get involved in the merriment, so you can quite literally dance your way into some unique cultural immersion.
Clark Pampanga Hot Air Balloon Festival – February
In the first week of February, Pampanga’s aviation grounds play host to every colored hot air balloon imaginable. Nicknamed the ‘weekend of everything that flies’, this is not just a spectator’s event. That’s right, these stunning classic hot air balloons are there for you to enjoy, and for the more adventurous amongst you, there’s even skydiving. If you’re more about keeping on terra firma, you’re still guaranteed hours of enjoyment as you watch the scattered balloons drift into the sunset.
Moriones Holy Festival – March / April (Holy Week)
For most of the communities in the Philippines, the celebration of Moriones holy festival is a calm and content affair, but not for the people of Marinduque. This is a time to dress up in the most striking rainbow colored centurion costumes topped with caricatured crowned masks. Marked as one of the four public vacations of the year, you’ll find that everyone is passionately participating. There is an infinite amount of devotion put into the preparations of this celebration, with some mask carvings taking months. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if you find a member of the festival hiding in your room, this is all part of the week long hide and seek game amongst the townspeople.
Catanduanes Reef Break – May
Come sunny May, Catanduanes Island plays host to its very own Reef Break Festival. Step onto the shores and be overwhelmed by the talented skaters and surfers. Watch the competitors weave through the vegetation, or glide over the crystal clear waters as music drifts through the palms. You can even brush up your technique at the surf clinic and release a lantern into the starry night sky. This is a magical event in many ways, including the fact that proceeds go towards improving child welfare.
T’nalak Festival – July
South Cotabato hosts an annual festival of color, inspired by the vivid threads of the ancient T’nalak tapestry. Feel the rhythm as the street dancers parade in their carnival and traditional attire, whilst the festival queens make way between the bountiful corn, fruit and fish displays. For the cultural wanderers amongst you, this is a true insight into the passion and flair that comes with South Cotabato’s heritage. The attention to detail and turnout of the annual event highlights what ancestry means to the community. Don’t expect to be a spectator here, you’ll be greeted with spirit and encouraged to be a part of the performances.
Kadayawan Festival – August
In celebration of the bounty of life, every year the third week of August is dedicated to the Kadayawan Festival. Held in the vibrant city of Davao, this is recognised as a time to praise the year’s harvest of fruit flowers and vegetables. Everywhere you look an abundance of harvest produce, performers and art is on display with pride, boasting every color you can imagine. Celebrating the joy of life and the gifts of nature, there is no shortage of joy during this festival, and this year marks its 30th anniversary. We couldn’t think of a better reason to celebrate.
Masskara Festival – October
Now, if this celebration does not put a grin on your face then we don’t know what will. Each October, the people of Bacolod celebrate their nickname of ‘the city of smiles’. During the 1980’s, the city went through a sugar cane crisis; in order to lift their spirits and encourage hope, the Masskara Festival was born. Today, the celebration includes beauty pageants, street dancing, and more importantly a sea of giant smiling masks. Wherever you look, this masquerade ball has the jolliest and most decorative costumes, beaming with the widest smiles; it’s a sight like no other.