Festivals In The Philippines: 10 Most Exciting Filipino Fiestas

Philippine Festivals 2020 Updated

Festivals in the Philippines offer people a chance to exhibit their rich culture and pay homage to the history and patron saints. They are vibrant, big, and celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. No wonder, each province has its own Filipino Fiesta that they are very proud of.

Tourists from all over the world visit the Philippines not just to see its beautiful beaches and breathtaking sights, but also to experience the country’s grand festivals that, without a doubt, makes it more fun in the Philippines.

10 Philippine Festivals You Must Experience

Here are the top 10 festivals every traveler must experience at least once:

  1. Sinulog Festival – Cebu
  2. Ati-Atihan Festival – Aklan
  3. Dinagyang Festival – Iloilo City
  4. Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon
  5. Panagbenga Festival – Baguio City
  6. Lechon Festival – Batangas
  7. Kadayawan Festival – Davao City
  8. MassKara Festival – Bacolod
  9. Tuna Festival – General Santos City
  10. Higantes Festival – Angono, Rizal
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Plot your calendars now and plan that vacation for the Philippine Festivals 2020!

1. Sinulog Festival – Cebu

Date: January 10 – 20, 2020

Head down south to the Queen City and experience this fiesta in the Philippines that celebrates Cebu’s patron saint— Santo Niño. This is a week-long event that is done with processions, parties, concerts, colorful and lively street dancing, irresistible drum beats and parades.

The word “sinulog” means “like the water current,” and is actually the name of the step that the dancers perform. 

Main Highlights

Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño (January 18, 6am)

Sinulog Grand Parade (January 19, 9am)

Where to stay in Cebu

Rates start at P700/night

ZEN Rooms Alicia Tower Cebu

ZEN Rooms Schweizer Cebu

ZEN Premium Banilad

2. Ati-Atihan Festival – Aklan

Date:  January 10 – 19, 2020

If you plan to visit Boracay in January, you might as well watch the locals masquerading as Negritos in colorful costumes, dancing and chanting “Hala Bira!” in Aklan for their Ati-Atihan Festival.

Similar to Cebu’s Sinulog Festival, this event is celebrated to honor Santo Niño. Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan is considered to be one of the best festivals in the Philippines. This religious festivity is also one of the oldest Philippine celebrations.

Main Highlights

Parade of Tribes and Floats (January 13, 1pm)

Ati-Atihan Street Dancing (January 17, 8am)

Religious Procession and torch Street Dancing (January 19, 2pm)

Where to stay in Aklan

(Rates start at P2,400/night)

ZEN Rooms Abozza Station 2

ZEN Rooms Station 1 Beachside

ZEN Premium Station 1 Road Front

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3. Dinagyang Festival – Iloilo City

Date: January 18 – 26, 2020

Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word that means “merrymaking.” Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Dinagyang is one of the religious festivals 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 street dancing contest that features tribes, represented by the locals.

Main Highlights

Floats Parade of Lights (January 24, 6pm)

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

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

Where to stay in Iloilo

(Rate starts at P600/night)

ZEN Rooms Basic Iloilo Paraw Resort

4. Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon

Date: May 15, 2020

Every famous festival in the Philippines is always colorful, and Pahiyas Festival, without a doubt, is one of the most colorful and vibrant festivals in the Philippines. You can trace Pahiyas Festival origin way back in the 15th century. Farmers then used to offer their harvests at the foot of Mount Banahaw. 

This is an annual celebration to pay homage to San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a bountiful harvest in town. Houses are decorated with the town’s best agricultural products, mostly colorful Kipings— a traditional Filipino leaf-shaped wafer made from glutinous rice.

What’s more exciting about Pahiyas festival is that FREE and grab-all-you-can fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere for the visitors to taste and enjoy. 

Main Highlights

Early Morning Procession in honor of San Isidro Labrador

Free food for everyone and the colorful houses decorated with Kiping

5. Panagbenga Festival – Baguio City

Date: February 1 – March 8, 2020

Panagbenga is a local Kankana-ey term in Cordillera, which means “a season for blossoming.” Panagbenga Festival is a month-long festival in Baguio. Tourists flock the city during this time to watch the Grand Float Parade which features giant floats in different characters made of flowers. Many celebrities also perform here. Because of these, Panagbenga has become a famous festival in the Philippines.

Main Highlights

Grand Street Dance Parade (February 29)

Grand Float Parade (March 1)

Where to stay in Baguio

(Rates start at P2,000/night)

ZEN Rooms Basic Camp Allen Rd Baguio

ZEN Rooms Mountain Lodge Baguio

ZEN Rooms South Drive Baguio

6. Lechon Festival – Batangas

Date: June 24, 2020

Parada ng Lechon is held every 24th of June in honor of St. John the Baptist.

Lechon (roasted pig) is always present in special Filipino occasions, especially on fiestas. During this festival, lechons are paraded dressed in fun characters, while the whole town is participating in a water splashing tradition. After the whole activity, everyone can already feast on the lechons in the festival.

Main Highlights

Parades of Lechon

Water Splashing Activity

Where to stay in Batangas

(Rates start at P2,000/night)

ZEN Rooms Park B&B Batangas

ZEN Rooms Yellowbell Batangas

ZEN Rooms Rosario Resort Batangas

7. Kadayawan Festival – Davao City

Date: August 2020

Kadayawan is a native expression in the Dabawnon tongue. It’s derived from the word “madayaw” which means good, valuable and superior. Dabaweños celebrate the annual Kadayawan as a thanksgiving festival and a tribute to its indigenous people. This is usually held every 3rd week of August.

Main Highlights

Indak Indak sa Kadalanan Street Dancing

Kadayawan Floral Parade

Parada sa Dagat

Where to stay in Davao

(Rate starts at P1,000/night)

ZEN Rooms Roxas Avenue

8. MassKara Festival – Bacolod

Date: October 2020

MassKara is derived from the words “mass” meaning “many” and “kara” meaning “faces,” thus, calling it the Festival of Many Faces. Many tourists visit Bacolod in October to witness this grand Filipino cultural festival. Being known as the City of Smiles, Bacolod parades many smiling masks worn by the locals during this festival in the Philippines. 

Main Highlights

Electric MassKara (Bacolod’s biggest street party)

MassKara Street Dance and Arena Competition

Where to stay in Bacolod

(Rates start at P500/night)

ZEN Rooms Basic Mercenary Inn

ZEN Rooms Middle Town Inn Bacolod

ZEN Rooms Check Inn Bacolod

9. Tuna Festival – General Santos City

Date: September 2020

Aside from being the hometown of the world boxing champion, a.k.a. Pambansang Kamao, Manny Pacquiao, General Santos City is also the premier fish producer of the Philippines. It houses the country’s 7 tuna canning plants, thus, making it the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.

During the Tuna Festival, locals showcase the province’s bountiful catch with colorful, ocean-themed floats. Another activity that everyone’s looking forward to is the Sugbahan sa Dalan where a long line of grills is set up on the street and hundreds of kilos of tuna are grilled on the spot. And the best thing about this is, everything’s FREE.

Main Highlights

Tuna Float Parade

Sugbahan sa Dalan

10. Higantes Festival – Angono, Rizal

Date: November 23 – 23, 2020

Angono, Rizal is known as the “Art Capital of the Philippines.” Aside from this, the town is also famous for its Higantes Festival.

Based on the Angono folklore, the “Higantes” or paper-mache giants were done by locals as a form of protest during the Spanish colonization. Now, these paper-mache giants now play the part of one of the most unique festivals in the Philippines.

Higantes Festival is celebrated every 4th week of November in Angono, Rizal to honor San Clemente, the town’s patron saint.

Main Highlights

Higantes Parade

Water Splashing Activity

Frequently Asked Questions About Festivals in the Philippines

Q: What are the biggest festivals in the Philippines?

A: Philippines is popular not just for its pristine beaches but also for its colorful and fun festivals. Here are some of the biggest Philippine festivals you must experience:

  1. Sinulog Festival – Cebu
  2. Ati-Atihan Festival – Aklan
  3. Dinagyang Festival – Iloilo City
  4. Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon
  5. Panagbenga Festival – Baguio City
  6. Lechon Festival – Batangas
  7. Kadayawan Festival – Davao City
  8. MassKara Festival – Bacolod
  9. Tuna Festival – General Santos City
  10. Higantes Festival – Angono, Rizal

Q: Why festivals are celebrated in the Philippines?

A: Philippine festivals are way to promote each province’s patron saint or most known products. For religious festival in the Philippines, Filipinos express their gratitude to the patron saints for bountiful blessings. While for other fiesta like festivals in Luzon, mostly are celebrations about their well-known products that serve as their identifiers.

Q: What is the mother of all festival in the Philippines?

A: Dubbed as the Mother of All Philippine Festivals, the Ati-Atihan Festival is widely known not just in the Philippines but across the world. Ati-Atihan Festival meaning is “to be like Atis or Aetas (Aklan Province’s natives).”

Q: What is the biggest festival in the Philippines?

A: Many people consider Sinulog in Cebu as the biggest festival in the Philippines. Local and foreign tourists travel to Cebu in January just to experience Sinulog Festival.

Q: As a Filipino how do you feel about celebrating festivals?

A: Fiesta celebration is already part of our tradition. And celebrating yearly does not only let them say thanks for the blessings they receive but also gives Filipinos hope for a much better tomorrow.

Q: Why is it important for many Filipinos to celebrate festivals?

A: In the Philippines celebrating fiestas is still common because it’s already part of their tradition. Festivals are their way to give thanks to the patron saint for the abundant blessings or to celebrate the start of something.

Q: How do festivals in general represent the cultural and ethnic diversity in the Philippines?

A: A Filipino Fiesta is an expressive way to celebrate rich heritage, culture and traditions and play an important role to add structure to our social lives, and connect us with our families and people with different race or backgrounds.

Q: How will you promote festival dances in your province?

A: Nowadays where technology is always upgrading, promoting a fiesta is easier through the help of social media. Many provinces air their fiesta celebration online via Facebook live usually. And after the event, they post photos and videos of the religious festival or any other kind of festival. Apart from social media, we can still use the traditional media where we can tap local media agencies to feature the fiesta.

Q: How how do you think festival reflect the culture and tradition of Filipino?

A: Every festival is a representation of one’s culture may it be a religious festival, arts festival, food festival, film festival, or other different kinds of festivals in the Philippines with pictures. Through a Filipino fiesta drawing or folk dances, festivals show the traditions of the ancestors to preserve their beliefs and culture. Not only that, because festivals also help boost local culture and economy.

Q: What are the two types of festival dances and its difference?

A: Religious and Secular. Festival dances portray the people’s culture and the people’s ways of life through movements, costumes, and accessories related to their place of origin.

Q: What is festival dance?

A: Festival dances are cultural dances performed to the beats of instruments, usually percussion, by a community sharing the same culture. These are usually done in honor of a Patron Saint or in the thanksgiving of a bountiful harvest.

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