Dinagyang Festival: A Gorgeous Celebration of Faith and Trade

Dinagyang Festival: A Gorgeous Celebration of Faith and Trade
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Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word that means “merrymaking.” Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Dinagyang Festival is one of the religious festivities in the Philippines that celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño and the pact between the Datus and locals.

Every 4th Sunday of January, the festival transforms the Iloilo City into a massive street party with overflowing drinks and food. The most exciting part is that the city hosts a highly competitive Dinagyang Festival dance contest and grand float parades.


Dinagyang Festival History

The Dinagyang festival history started in 1967 when an Augustinian priest from Cebu gave a replica image of the Santo Niño as a birthday gift to a fellow Augustinian priest in Iloilo. Since then, a novena mass was held every Friday at the San Jose Parish Church.

In 1969, a competition was organized similar to the popular Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo town in Aklan province. That time, the Dinagyang was known as “Iloilo Ati-Atihan.”

“Dinagyang” became the official name almost a decade later when radio broadcaster Pacifico Sudario insisted on using a local word to distinguish the festival from the well-known Ati-Atihan of Kalibo. 

Another thing to note is that the Dinagyang Festival performances are anchored on a folkloric story about the Barter of Panay. The story revolves around how 10 Bornean datus and their families fled a tyrannical ruler in Borneo early in the 13th century and sailed towards the island of Panay. When they arrived, the Borneans bargained with the native Atis to occupy the lowlands. To celebrate the barter, the Borneans painted their bodies with soot and danced with the Atis.

Because of the remarkable celebration, Dinagyang Festival has been famous not just in the Philippines, but across the world.


Dinagyang Festival 2020 Schedule of Activities

Official theme: “Perfect Vision: Celebrating the Ilonggo Spirit in Honor of Senior Santo Niño”

January 18-25, 2020 – Ilonggo Dinagyang Arts Festival

January 23, 2020 – Miss Iloilo 2020

January 23-26, 2020 – Ilonggo Food festival

January 24, 2020 – Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika

January 24, 2020 (3pm) – Fluvial and Solemn Foot Procession

January 24, 2020 (6pm) – Floats Parade of Lights

January 24, 2020 (9pm) – Fireworks Display

January 25, 2020 (8am) – Dagyang sa Calle Real

January 25, 2020 (2pm) – Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras

January 25, 2020 (7pm) – Religious Sadsad and Fireworks Display

January 26, 2020 (8am) – Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition

January 26, 2020 (7pm) – Viva Dinagyang! Award Ceremony

Main Highlights

Floats Parade of Lights (January 24, 6pm)

Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras (January 25, 2pm)

Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition (January 26, 8am)


Dinagyang Festival 2020 Guide

There is no room for dead air and boredom in Dinagyang Festival 2020 when the thunderous drum beats, heart-pounding chants, and world-class Dinagyang Festival dance performances begin. And when you’re in Iloilo for the festival, keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your festival experience!

1. Research 

Don’t just book that flight and travel to Iloilo empty-handed. Find out the most Instagrammable spots, where to eat, and the best places to stay in Iloilo. Read also some things about Dinagyang. Trust us, you’ll enjoy the festivity more if you know and absorb the true Dinagyang Festival meaning.

2. Bring water

Don’t let yourself dehydrated. Always bring a water bottle with you because for sure, you will get tired from the endless but convivial walks, dances, and parties throughout the day!

3. Wear appropriate clothes

Comfort is key to a more fun festival experience! Wear clothes that are light and comfortable enough for you to move freely. Also, if you don’t want to have calluses at the end of the day, avoid wearing heels. Choose a comfortable but tough pair of shoes to keep your feet clean and safe.

4. Wear sunscreen

Unless you want to get a tan, protect your skin from harmful UV rays of the sun by putting on sunblock. 

5. Book your accommodations in Iloilo early

Dinagyang Festival is one of the country’s biggest festivals so expect that many tourists around the world will visit Iloilo during this time. We suggest that you book your accommodations in Iloilo as early as today.

The real Dinagyang Festival meaning is not just about the grand street dance, a parade of floats, and partying but about the celebration in honor of Santo Niño. Through Dinagyang, Ilonggos did not just prove the world how artistic Filipinos are but also show the values and unity of the community.

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