Festivals In The Philippines: 15 Most Exciting Filipino Fiestas
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, make it more fun in the Philippines.
15 Philippine Festivals You Must Experience
The festivals in the Philippines are one of the main reasons travelers visit the country. Because of the colorful costumes, fun activities, and electrifying festival dances in the Philippines, travelers can’t help but join the party. Here are the top 15 festivals every traveler must experience at least once:
- Sinulog Festival – A religious festival in the Philippines celebrated in Cebu every January.
- Ati-Atihan Festival – One-of-a-kind festival in the Philippines held in Aklan.
- Dinagyang Festival – The religious festival in the Philippines that celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño and the pact between the Datus and locals in Iloilo City.
- Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon – One of the most colorful Philippines festivals held in Lucban, Quezon where tourists can enjoy FREE food!
- Panagbenga Festival – The popular Flower Festival in the Philippines.
- Lechon Festival – One of the most unique festivals in the Philippines where you’ll see crispy pork lechons dressed in cool outfits.
- Kadayawan Festival – The fiesta in the Philippines celebrated in Davao City.
- MassKara Festival – The Philippine festival of many faces held in Bacolod.
- Tuna Festival – One of the fun fish festivals in the Philippines.
- Higantes Festival – Where you can see giant paper mache do the festival dance.
- Mango Festival – A festivity held in Zambales to celebrate the bountiful harvest of mangoes.
- Bangus Festival – The festival that promotes bangus.
- Moriones Festival – A religious festival in the Philippines re-enacting Longinus’ life.
- Ibalong Festival – It is a celebration in recognition of the socio-historic-cultural heritage of Bicolanos as based on the Ibalong Epic.
- T’Nalak Festival – A way to promote and preserve South Cotabato’s cultural heritage
Plot your calendars now and plan that vacation for the Philippine Festivals 2020!
1. Sinulog Festival – Cebu
Date: January 10 – 20, 2020
- Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño (January 18, 6am)
- Sinulog Grand Parade (January 19, 9am)
Head down south to the Queen City and experience this fiesta in the Philippines that celebrates Cebu’s patron saint— Santo Niño. Sinulog is one of the 10 examples of religious festivals in the Philippines. 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.
Where to stay in Cebu
Rates start at P700/night
2. Ati-Atihan Festival – Aklan
Date: January 10 – 19, 2020
- Parade of Tribes and Floats (January 13, 1pm)
- Ati-Atihan Street Dancing (January 17, 8am)
- Religious Procession and torch Street Dancing (January 19, 2pm)
Witness a crazy but the good kind of crazy festival dances in the Philippines when you attend the Ati-Atihan Festival. 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.
Where to stay in Aklan
Rates start at P2,400/night
3. Dinagyang Festival – Iloilo City
Date: January 18 – 26, 2020
- Floats Parade of Lights
- Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
- Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition
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 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.
Suggested article: Dinagyang Festival: A Gorgeous Celebration of Faith and Trade
Where to stay in Iloilo
Rate starts at P600/night
4. Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon
Date: May 15, 2020
- Early Morning Procession in honor of San Isidro Labrador
- Free food for everyone and the colorful houses decorated with Kiping
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 history way back in the 15th century. Farmers then used to offer their harvests at the foot of Mount Banahaw. The Pahiyas festival place of origin is Quezon Province.
This is an annual celebration to pay homage to San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a bountiful harvest in town so it’s one of the 10 examples of religious festivals in the Philippines. 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.
5. Panagbenga Festival – Baguio City
Date: February 1 – March 8, 2020
- Grand Street Dance Parade
- Grand Float Parade
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 to 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 this, Panagbenga has become a famous festival in the Philippines.
Where to stay in Baguio
Rates start at P2,000/night
6. Lechon Festival – Batangas
Date: June 24, 2020
- Parades of Lechon
- Water Splashing Activity
Parada ng Lechon for the Lechon Festival is held every 24th of June in honor of St. John the Baptist.
Lechon (roasted pig) is always present on 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.
Where to stay in Batangas
Rates start at P2,000/night
7. Kadayawan Festival – Davao City
Photo by RaksyBH via Shutterstock
Date: August 2020
- Indak Indak sa Kadalanan Street Dancing
- Kadayawan Floral Parade
- Parada sa Dagat
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 Philippines festival is usually held every 3rd week of August.
Where to stay in Davao
Rate starts at P1,000/night
8. MassKara Festival – Bacolod
Date: October 2020
- Electric MassKara (Bacolod’s biggest street party)
- MassKara Street Dance and Arena Competition
MassKara Festival is a very popular festival in the Philippines. 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.
Where to stay in Bacolod
Rates start at P500/night
9. Tuna Festival – General Santos City
Date: September 2020
- Tuna Festival Float Parade
- Sugbahan sa Dalan
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 festival in the Philippines is, everything’s FREE.
10. Higantes Festival – Angono, Rizal
Date: November 23 – 23, 2020
- Higantes Festival Parade
- Water Splashing Activity
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.
11. Mango Festival – Zambales
- Mango eating challenge
- Street dancing
Zambales is known for its beautiful islands and beaches that have become the go-to destination of weekend travelers. But aside from these, Zambales is home to the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines and across the globe, that even the Guinness World Records recognized.
Mango Festival in the Philippines is the celebration of the bountiful harvest. It aims not only for the locals to have a great time but also to promote what Zambales has to offer.
12. Bangus Festival – Dagupan City
Photo credits to Christina Estrada via Flickr
- Street party
- Street dancing
- Trade fairs
- Bangus cook off
Held in Dagupan City in Pangasinan, Bangus Festival is celebrated to give thanks to the city’s thriving aquaculture, especially in bangus or milkfish. Bangus Festival started in 2002 to promote the bangus industry. Among the highlights of this non religious festival are the bangus cook off, street party, trade fairs and of course, the electrifying festival dance in the streets.
13. Moriones Festival – Marinduque
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
Date: It depends on the month when the Holy Week is observed
- The Parade of Morions
- Moriones Festival dance
- Short acts re-enacting what happened during the time of Longinus
Unlike other festivals in the Philippines, Moriones Festival is, according to religious sectors, not a festive occasion. This religious festival is a traditional activity held every Holy Week in the island province of Marinduque in the Philippines.
Moriones is derived from the word “Morion” which means mask or visor hence, the mask in the Moriones Festival costume. This religious festival is a re-enactment of the biblical story of a Roman soldier whose one eye was blind named Longinus.
Suggested article: Moriones Festival: Every Traveler’s Guide to this Solemn Tradition
14. Ibalong Festival – Bicol
Photo by albay.gov.ph
Date: August 10 to 19
- Street dancing
- Giant floats
- Re-enactment of Ibalong Epic
Ibalong Festival, far from the other festivals in the Philippines, is a non religious festival about harvests. It is a celebration in recognition of the socio-historic-cultural heritage of Bicolanos as based on the Ibalong Epic showcasing the bravery and strength of three heroes—Baltog, Handyong and Bantong—who got to battle against the elements, one-eyed monsters, giant flying sharks, crocodiles as big as boats, and other such fearful creatures.
15. T’Nalak Festival – South Cotabato
Photo by Constantine Agustin via Flickr
Date: Every second week of July
- Street dancing
- Mutya ng South Cotabato
- Tri-People Grand Parade
T’Nalak Festival in the Philippines is a way to promote and preserve South Cotabato’s cultural heritage. It is an annual celebration that commemorates the Foundation Anniversary of South Cotabato.This non religious festival has two primary objectives: first is to celebrate the founding anniversary of the province, and the second is to honor the rich cultural heritage of T’nalak.
Suggested article: T’Nalak Festival: Everything You Must Know About South Cotabato’s Colorful Event
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. From Pahiyas Festival and Tuna Festival to the Higantes Festival, we got you covered. Here are some of the biggest Philippine festivals you must experience:
- Sinulog Festival – Cebu
- Ati-Atihan Festival – Aklan
- Dinagyang Festival – Iloilo City
- Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Quezon
- Panagbenga Festival – Baguio City
- Lechon Festival – Batangas
- Kadayawan Festival – Davao City
- MassKara Festival – Bacolod
- Tuna Festival – General Santos City
- 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: Is MassKara festival religious or nonreligious?
A: MassKara Festival is nonreligious.
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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