Dinagyang Festival: A Gorgeous Celebration of Faith and Trade

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.

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Dinagyang Festival Activities

Dinagyang is one of the most-awaited festivals in the Philippines because of its fun, lively, and colorful celebration. Here are some of the fun activities you should experience at the Dinagyang Festival:

  1. Floats Parade of Lights
  2. Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  3. Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition
  4. Ilonggo Dinagyang Arts Festival
  5. Miss Iloilo Pageant
  6. Ilonggo Food festival
  7. Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika

What’s inside this blog?


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 2021 Schedule of Activities

The Dinagyang Festival 2021 activities will push through despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Iloilo festival in 2021 will be different from the previous years as some of the activities will be held on-ground, while some will be held online.

  • January 10-17 – Pinta sa Kapiestahan (JCI Iloilo) | Atria Park District
  • January 15, 5PM – Pamukaw sa Virtual Opening Salvo 2021 | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 17 – Dinagyang Fun Bike Ride | Iloilo Business Park-Megaworld
  • January 18-24 – Iloilo Dinagyang 2021 MarketMarket (PCCI) | SM City Iloilo Activity Center
  • January 18-24 – One Iloilo, One Dinagyang Trade Fair | Festive Mall Iloilo
  • January 18-24 – Dinagyang Costume Exhibit | SM City Iloilo North Point
  • January 18 – Dinagyang Fantasy Make-Up Contest | Robinson’s Place Jaro Activity Center
  • January 20 – Dinagyang Drumbeats | Robinson’s Place Iloilo Fountain Area
  • January 22, 2PM – Sto. Nino Religious Motorcade (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | San Jose Parish Church – Iloilo City main streets
  • January 22-24 – Dinagyang Foodfest | Iloilo Convention Center (Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market & IHRA); 
    City Time Square (Street Food Night Market Drive Thru); SM City Iloilo (Batchoy Festival) and 
    ATRIA Park District (Tienda)
  • January 23, 9AM-11AM – Dagyang sa Calle Real Time (Rotary Club of Iloilo South) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 23, 5:30PM – Dinagyang Warrior Fashion Show | Festive Mall Iloilo
  • January 23, 7PM – Virtual Religious Sadsad 2021 (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, 7AM – Virtual Dinagyang Mass 2021 (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, Sunday, Morning – One Dinagyang Digital Presentation | GMA Regional TV 6,  Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, 6PM – Virtual Awarding Ceremony (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)

Main Highlights of the Festival in Iloilo

  • Floats Parade of Lights
  • Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  • Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition

Dinagyang Festival 2021 Guide

There is no room for dead air and boredom in Dinagyang Festival 2021 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.


Must-visit Iloilo tourist spots

Here are some of the top attractions in Iloilo every traveler must visit.

  1. Gigantes Islands
  2. Miag-ao Church
  3. Garin Farm
  4. Nadsadjan Falls
  5. Calle Real
  6. Molo Church
  7. Iloilo River Esplanade
  8. Pawikan Cave
  9. Concepcion Islands
  10. Tangke Lagoon

For the full list of Iloilo tourist spots, read this: 18 Must-Visit Iloilo Tourist Spots That Will Capture Your Heart

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.


Iloilo Tourism Guidelines 2021 | COVID-19 Updates

As of April 2021, traveling to Iloilo is allowed but travelers must comply with the following requirements:

What you need:

  1. Get coordination through the s-pass system https://s-pass.ph/
  2. RT-PCR test upon arrival
  3. Passengers will be required to upload soft or scanned copies of their pre-travel requirements. Once verified, you will be given a QR Code indicating the local government’s approval of their travel to Iloilo City. Ensure that you have a copy of the QR Code, whether soft or hard copy of the same which shall be presented for scanning upon their arrival at the ports of entry of Iloilo City.
  4. Get a Travel Coordination Permit (TCP) through the S-PaSS Travel Management System by submitting the following requirements: 

ILOILO CITY RESIDENTS AND/OR THOSE STAYING WITH ILOILO CITY RESIDENTS
Get a Certificate of Residency from their respective Barangays in Iloilo City 

NON-RESIDENTS OF ILOILO CITY
Copy of hotel or accommodation establishment booking

APOR (staying in Iloilo for not more than 24 hours)

  1. Negative RT-PCR (OPS / NPS) Test Result showing that the date of specimen extraction was made not more than three (3) days prior to the date of travel
  2. Identification Card
  3. Travel Order
  4. Travel Itinerary
  5. Must pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit
  6. Accomplish official business in Iloilo City within twenty-four (24) hours from arrival.

APORs traveling for medical purposes must secure a certification from a physician, hospital or medically qualified healthcare provider indicating the medical services or procedures. 

ALL OTHER INDIVIDUALS ARRIVING IN ILOILO CITY (LSIs, ROFs, APORs staying in Iloilo City for more than 24 hours, and Persons on Non-essential Travel / Tourists)

  1. Upon arrival in Iloilo City, passengers shall be subject to NPS/OPS RT-PCR Testing at the airport.
  2. After the RT-PCR testing, individuals must observe strict self-quarantine until a negative RT-PCR test result is issued. The self-quarantine may be observed in either the following: at home, at hotels/accommodation establishments, or at the government quarantine facilities.
  3. Individuals who are confirmed COVID-19 positive shall comply with the instructions of local health authorities.

For more travel updates, visit Iloilo City Tourism’s Facebook page.


Frequently Asked Questions About Dinagyang Festival

Q: What is the Dinagyang Festival description?

A: 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.

Q: Why is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo is an important event in the Philippines just like other festivals. The festival is held to show reverence of Santo Niño as well as to mark the arrival of Malay immigrants.

Q: Where is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: The Dinagyang Festival place of origin is Iloiloi that’s why it is celebrated there.

Q: When is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: This Iloilo festival is celebrated every 4th Sunday of January.

Q: Who is the patron of Dinagyang Festival?

A: 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.

Q: How do we celebrate Dinagyang festival?

A: 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.

Q: What activities to do in Dinagyang Festival?

A: When attending Dinagyang Festival, make sure you wouldn’t miss these fun activities:

  1. Floats Parade of Lights
  2. Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  3. Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition
  4. Ilonggo Dinagyang Arts Festival
  5. Miss Iloilo Pageant
  6. Ilonggo Food festival
  7. Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika

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