Every year, on the third Sunday of September, the miraculous image of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia also known as Our Lady of Penafrancia or Ina, as lovingly called by devotees, is taken out of her shrine and brought in a procession along the Naga River. This annual festivity is called the Peñafrancia Festival.

During this time, Naga becomes much like a pool of people who attend the more than 300-year-old festivity in the hopes of having an answered prayer, for healing, or simply to give thanks. Learn more about this sacred festival as we tell you everything you need to know, from history and date to the activities to experience.

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About Peñafrancia Festival

penafrancia festival fluvial procession

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Peñafrancia Festival is a religious festival honoring Our Lady of Penafrancia, Patroness of the Bicol Region. The main highlight of the event is the fluvial procession along the Naga River where the Our Lady of Peñafrancia original image is transferred from its official home at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and vice versa. This festival is the biggest religious event in Bicol and is considered to be the biggest Marian event in Asia where it draws millions of tourists, pilgrims, and devotees every year.

Related article: Festivals in the Philippines

Penafrancia Festival Date and Location 

The celebration of the feast at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine is held every 3rd Sunday of September in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Bicol. 

Peñafrancia Festival History

The Peñafrancia Festival History can be traced back to 300 years ago when Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias commissioned a small chapel at the foot of Mt. Isarog, and a small Our Lady of Penafrancia image to be enshrined in it in 1710. 

Originally, he has pledged to build a stone at Our Lady of Peñafrancia Church in Manila near the Pasig River as he has received many miracles of healing through his devotion to the Our Lady of Penafrancia. Under Most Rev. Ysidro de Arevalo, the stone Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia was erected, not in Manila but in Naga. Many people since then are flocking to the Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia to show their devotion and has since grown to become the largest Marian Devotion in Asia.

Then on August 17, 1981, the Our Lady of Peñafrancia original image was stolen. Many Bicolanos were in disbelief. More than a year after the image was stolen, Msgr. Florencio Yllana, a former rector of the old shrine, received a box containing an image in pieces said to be of Ina (what locals lovingly call the Lady of Penafrancia). It was later confirmed that it is the Our Lady of Penafrancia image.

The love and devotion that many people have for Ina gave birth to the most-awaited and biggest Marian event in Asia: The Penafrancia Fiesta.

Activities on Penafrancia Festival 2022

penafrancia festival parade

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The theme for Penafrancia Festival 2022 is “Rising Above the Challenge Together with Our Loving Mother”, which aptly represents how people are moving forward despite the struggles and challenges of these unprecedented times, and how our faith to Ina strengthens our resolve. 

Last year, the activities surrounding the Penafrancia Festival were cancelled due to Covid-19. But this year, the City Government of Naga announced that “activities will push through and that there will be no situation that will compel the LGU and the Archdiocese of Caceres to cancel the biggest Marian festival in Southeast Asia.” 

Here are the activities that will happen for the whole month of September 2022 in relation to the Penafrancia Festival: 

  • September 7, 2022 – Miss Bicolandia 
  • September 9, 2022 – Penafrancia Traslacion Procession 
  • September 14, 2022 – Regional Scouts Parade, Drum and Bugle Crops/Drum Xylophone and Majorettes Corps Competition 
  • September 15, 2022 – Civic Parade and Float Competition 
  • September 16, 2022 – Bicol Regional Military Parade Bands/Majorettes Exhibition 
  • September 17, 2022 – Penafrancia Fluvial Procession 

How to Get to Naga City

By bus

From Cubao, Pasay, or Alabang, ride a bus going to Naga City. The good thing about traveling to Naga is that you can find buses that will bring you straight there. This is the most affordable option, too. Travel time is about 8 hours.

By plane

If you don’t have much time to spare, you can also travel by air. There are two main airports in Bicol: one in Naga, and one in Legazpi City. The travel time is around 1 hour only.

Bicol Tourist Spots 

Bicol is largely known for Mayon Volcano, but this province is also filled with many other destinations perfect for travelers who enjoy the great outdoors. Read below to know the best Bicol tourist spots for a memorable vacation. 

Related article: 15 Must-Visit Bicol Tourist Spots That Will Unleash The Adventurer in You

1. Mayon Volcano 

The world’s most perfect volcanic cone and the most active volcano in the Philippines 

2. Bulusan Lake 

Located in Sorsogon, this lake sits at the foot of Mount Bulusan, surrounded by a lush rainforest and graced with beautiful flora and fauna 

3. Binurong Point 

Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org 

Binurong Point is located in the island of Catanduanes. This makes a great spot for photography, especially at the early morning or sunset! 

4. Daraga Church 

Known for its Baroque architecture, the facade and walls of Daraga Church are made out of volcanic rocks. This church was built by the Franciscans back in 1772. 

5. Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia 

Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org 

Another popular Roman Catholic church, Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia is one of the largest pilgrimage sites in Asia that houses an image of the Virgin Mary that was sculpted in 1710. It is located on the outskirts of Naga City. 

6. CamSur Water Sports Complex

Photo source: CWC Facebook

If you are into wakeboarding, CamSur Water Sports Complex is must-visit when in Naga City. You can also enjoy other adrenaline-pumping water activities here such as water volleyball, paddle surfing, giant water slides, and more.  

7. Calaguas Island 

Photo source: philpar.com 

A group of islands located in Camarines Norte known for its pristine white beaches. The most popular beach in the island is Mahabang Buhangin beach. 

Must-read: Calaguas Island Travel Guide 2022 

8. Caramoan Island 

Photo source: philippinetourismusa.com 

Located in Camarines Sur, Caramoan Island is known for its white and pink sand beaches. It’s a paradise filled with enthralling flora and fauna, and endowed with a 4,000 hectare forest. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Peñafrancia Festival

What are the best hotels in Naga City? 

There are many hotels in Naga City, but some of the best ones are: 

  • Villa Caceres Hotel 
  • Avenue Plaza Hotel 
  • CBD Plaza Hotel 
  • Robertson Hotel 
  • Naga Regent Hotel 

Where is Naga City?  

Naga City is located in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. 

What are the best Naga tourist spots? 

 The top attractions in Naga City are:

  1. Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia 
  2. Naga Metropolitan Cathedral 
  3. Our Lady of Penafrancia Shine 
  4. Aguirangan Island 
  5. Panicuason Hot Spring Resort and Adventure Park 
  6. Malabsay Falls 
  7. Caramoan Island
  8. Mt Isarog National Park 
  9. Naga Ecological Park 
  10. Lake Buhi 

What are the best Bicol tourist spots? 

The must-visit tourist spots in Bicol are: 

  1. Mayon Volcano 
  2. Bulusan Lake 
  3. Binurong Point 
  4. Daraga Church
  5.  Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
  6. CamSur Water Sports Complex 
  7. Calaguas ISland 
  8. Caramoan Island

What is the Penafrancia Festival about?

The Penafrancia Festival description is a religious festival honoring Our Lady of Penafrancia, Patroness of the Bicol Region. The main highlight of the event is the fluvial procession along the Naga River where the Our Lady of Peñafrancia original image is transferred from its official home at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and vice versa. This festival is the biggest religious event in Bicol and is considered to be the biggest Marian event in Asia where it draws millions of tourists, pilgrims, and devotees every year.

When is Peñafrancia Festival celebrated?

Peñafrancia Festival is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of September.

Where is Peñafrancia Festival celebrated?

Peñafrancia Festival is celebrated in Naga City, Camarines Sur in Bicol Region, Philippines. Millions of people go to Naga to witness this Marian event yearly.

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