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

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

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).”

Similar to Cebu’s Sinulog Festival, and Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival this event is celebrated to honor the Child Jesus, Santo Niño.

The Ati Atihan Festival celebration consists of multiple events that happen in various parts of Kalibo town. You’ll never run out of things to do because Ati-Atihan has all kinds of events—from solemn masses, loud marching bands to partying on the streets.

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So if you are planning to visit Boracay in January, you might as well watch the locals masquerading as Negritos in colorful costumes, chanting “Hala Bira!” while doing the Ati-Atihan Dance in Aklan.

Ati-Atihan Festival 2021 Guide: What’s inside this blog?

Ati atihan Festival is a festival dance that originated in Cebu and usually celebrated by the month of January. Learn more about this Aklan Festival by reading this guide.

Ati-Atihan Festival History

The Ati Arihan Festival history goes way back to the 1700s. In 1975, a Catholic priest named Msgr. Jose Iturralde wrote that the origin of the Ati-Atihan Festival started from an old couple who lives in the western part of Aklan.

Msgr. Iturralde said that in the early-1700s, a fisherman went fishing in a river but caught a piece of wood instead. He threw the wood away, but it repeatedly returned to his net. The fisherman was dismayed so he just went home and decided to bring the wood. He threw it in a pile to use as fuel to cook their meal. While sleeping, the fisherman and his wife heard a beating sound. When they search where it’s coming from, they found a carving of a child on the piece of wood from the river.

The fisherman placed it on their altar. Since then, the family received blessings, including good fish harvests. After a few weeks, the fisherman sought advice from a priest.

The priest asked the fisherman to place the wood at the Ibajay Parish but the wood was repeatedly disappearing and was always found at the roof of the fisherman’s house.

The Ibajay residents believed that the incident was a call for them to seek forgiveness of their sins. Part of their penance was to blacken their faces with coal and to dress in rags which later on became the Ati-Atihan Festival costume. After doing this, the piece of wood has remained and never disappeared in the church.

One day, a group of Spaniards known as the Moros from the Mindoro province tried to invade Ibajay. The residents fought back and dedicated their victory to the piece of wood

Until now, the fight between the natives against the Spaniards is being commemorated as part of the Ibajay Ati-Atihan.

In 1798 Padre Fernando de Legaspi, a priest based in Malinao town heard about the yearly celebration being held in Ibajay. Upon witnessing the revelry, he decided to do it, too, in the towns of Malinao and Kalibo in 1800.

And on June 11, 1871, a testament was signed by a Kalibo priest with businessmen in town to institutionalize the holding of the annual Ati-Atihan Festival.

On the other hand, there’s another legend connected to the Ati-Atihan Festival history. It was said that 10 Bornean datus sailed to Aklan to escape the dictatorship of their ruler. They accidentally landed on Panay Island and welcomed by the Aetas.

The 10 Bornean datus were believed to have bought the entire Panay Island from the Aetas with gold jewelry. This legend was, however, officially declared a myth by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).


Ati Atihan Festival Description

Ati-Atihan Festival means “to be like Atis or Aetas (Aklan Province’s natives).”


When is Ati-Atihan Festival celebrated?

Ati Atihan Festival is celebrated every January in Aklan Province in Visayas.


Ati-Atihan Festival 2021 Schedule of Activities

Because of the pandemic, the usual celebration of the Ati-Atihan Festival tagalog was done digitally. There were no public gatherings, Ati-Atihan Festival street dances, and other activities that require close contacts to follow the health and safety protocols. The local government didn’t let the pandemic ruin the Ati Atihan mood so they celebrated the yearly festival in Aklan virtually. You can watch the virtual Ati-atihan Festival tagalog here.

Ati Atihan Festival 2021 Activities

  • Ati Atihan Festival Vibrant the New Normal (Pre-filmed)
  • Ati Atihan Festival Face Mask Making Contest
  • Ati Atihan-Themed PPE Making Contest
  • Miss Kalibo Ati Atihan 2021 (Virtual)
  • Ati Atihan Room Contest
  • Encounter with Sr. Sto. Nino
  • Color My Ati
  • Ati-Atihan Festival Costume Making Contest
  • Ati Atihan Binaeaybay: Talento ng Inisyatibo it Kalibo
  • Throwback Kalibo Sr. Sto. Nino
  • Ati-Atihan Festival Photo Contest
  • Ati-Atihan Food Competiton

Main Highlights of Ati-Atihan Festival

Before the pandemic, these were the main highlights of the Ati-Atihan Aklan Festival:

  • Parade of Tribes and Floats
  • Ati-Atihan Street Dancing
  • Religious Procession and Torch Street Dancing

Ati-Atihan Festival 2021 Guide

Just like any other festival, Ati-Atihan will be so much fun and tiring! Don’t let the heat and crowd spoil your trip. But because of the pandemic, the mother of all festival this year is celebrated online. And in case this Kalibo Aklan festival is back to normal next year, here are some tips to make the most out of your Ati-Atihan Festival 2021.

1. Mind your valuables
The Ati Atihan mood will definitely be fun and electrifying because of all the fun Kalibo Aklan Festival activities. Though there will be security personnel around the areas of the celebration, they can’t keep an eye on each and everyone in the crowd. So keep your belongings at your sight and hold them carefully. 

2. Bring water
Always bring water with you to keep yourself hydrated when celebrating the Aklan festival. Because most of the time, you’ll be outdoors and with the many fun activities waiting for you, for sure, you’ll get tired at some point so stay hydrated.

3. Wear appropriate clothes
Sure, style is a plus when going on a trip especially for the Instagrammable OOTDs but never compromise comfort for it. Wear anything comfortable and you’re willing to soil to enjoy the Ati Atihan mood and message.

4. Wear sunscreen
Protect your skin from harmful UV rays of the sun by putting on sunblock. Don’t leave the hotel and lose yourself in the festive mood of Ati Atihan without sunblock if you don’t want to have burnt skin at the end of the day. Trust us, it hurts!

5. Book your accommodations in Aklan early
It is expected that Aklan will be full of tourists during the Ati-Atihan Festival so we suggest that you book your accommodations in Aklan as early as today.


Aklan Tourist Spots

Here’s a list of the best places to visit in Aklan once you’re done celebrating Ati-Atihan Festival.

  1. Boracay
  2. Kalibo Cathedral
  3. Museo It Akean
  4. Hinugtan Beach, Buruanga
  5. Ariel’s Point
  6. Jawili Beach
  7. Tangalan Church
  8. Bulabog Beach
  9. Diniwid Beach
  10. Ilig-Iligan Beach

Must-read: 10 Boracay Tourist Spots That’ll Convince You It’s One of the World’s Best Islands


Aklan Tourism Guidelines 2021 | COVID-19 Updates

As of April 23, 2021, only domestic tourists coming from GCQ and MGCQ areas are allowed to enter Aklan according to the Aklan Government.

Before you plan to attend Ati Atihan Festival, make sure to take note of the following:

  1. Access https://www.touristboracay.com/ and choose Aklan Mainland.
  2. Fill out required fields and click submit. Make sure that the correct visitor type is selected (Traveller).
  3. Take a screenshot of the OHDC confirmation page.
  4. Send the following documents to [email protected], using the email subject OHDC-FamilyName, FirstName:

FOR TRAVELLERS COMING FROM OUTSIDE WESTERN VISAYAS

  1. Screenshot of the OHDC confirmation
  2. Philippine government-issued ID
  3. Negative RT-PCR Result Certificate (saliva or nasopharengeal or oropharengeal) with date of extraction within seventy-two (72) hours to date of travel
  4. Travel details (Only Kalibo International Airport can be used by those travelling via air.)

FOR PASSING THROUGH PASSENGERS

  1. Screenshot of the OHDC confirmation page
  2. Philippine government-issued ID
  3. S-Pass TCP/TPP with other Provinces as point of destination (can be obtained from https://s-pass.ph/)
  4. Travel details (Only Kalibo International Airport can be used by those travelling via air.)

FOR RETURNING AKLANONS WHOSE POINT OF ORIGIN IS AKLAN

  1. Screenshot of the OHDC confirmation page (destination should be in format “AKLAN DESTINATION AKLAN” and date of travel should be the date of return or 7 days after departure date from Aklan)
  2. Philippine government-issued ID
  3. Travel details – include Roundtrip Ticket or ticket with departure date from Aklan (Only Kalibo International Airport can be used by those travelling via air.)

Multiple Traveller documents can be sent in one email. Just include a listing of the names. Note: Please submit your documents at least 12 hours or more before your travel to Aklan to avoid delays. RTPCR results are verified with the laboratories. Travellers with falsified results shall be criminally prosecuted.

  1. Wait for the email response (successful or unsuccessful) of the Final Validator. The validation team processes the QR Code within several minutes from receipt of email and usually responds within an hour. If you have not received any response within two hours, please send another follow up email.
  2. If processing is unsuccessful, an email will be sent to you requesting for additional requirements or clarification. Please immediately comply with this to avoid delays in the QR Code release. 7. If processing is successful, a copy of HDC with QR Code will be sent back through email. Have a printed or digital copy. The QR Code will be used in the ports of entry (land, air, sea).

For more travel updates, visit the Aklan Local Government website.


Frequently Asked Questions About Ati-Atihan Festival

Q: What is the purpose of Ati Atihan Festival?
A: Ati-Atihan Festival meaning is “to be like Atis or Aetas (Aklan Province’s natives).” Similar to Cebu’s Sinulog Festival, and Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival this event is celebrated to honor the Child Jesus, Santo Niño. The Aklan Festival celebration consists of multiple events that happen in various parts of Kalibo town.

Q: How is Ati Atihan Festival celebrated?
A: Dubbed as the mother of all Philippine festivals, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo is among the biggest, colorful, and festive celebrations in honor of Santo Niño. It is also celebrated by the rhythmic beating of drums and traditional street dancing in January. Because of this, any tourists from around the world visit the province to experience this festival in Kalibo Aklan.

Q: What does Hala Bira mean?
A: Hala Bira is derived from the Aklanon language meaning “dispense all means”. Locals and street performers chant Hala Bira at the festival.

Q: Who is the patron saint of Ati Atihan Festival?
A: Ati-atihan Festival is a week-long celebration in honor of the Patron Saint Sto. Niño, which culminates on the third Sunday of January.

Q: Where is Ati Atihan Festival celebrated?
A: To answer your question where is Ati Atihan Festival celebrated, it’s in Kalibo, Aklan.

Q: What is the Ati-Atihan Festival place of origin?
A: According to history, the Ati-Atihan Festival place of origin is in Ibajay in Aklan. But a priest based in Malinao town heard about the yearly celebration and decided to bring the Ati Atihan festival description in Malinao and Kalibo.

Q: What festival is celebrated in January in Kalibo Aklan?
A: Ati Atihan Festival is celebrated in Kalibo, Aklan every January.

Q: Where is the Ati-Atihan Festival place of origin?
A: The Ati-Atihan Festival place of origin is in the province of Aklan in Visayas.

Q: What is the Mother of all Festivals?
A: The Mother of all Festivals in the Philippines is the Ati-Atihan Festival held in Aklan Province. 

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

For years, millions of devotees of the miraculous image of the Child Jesus, Santo Niño, have been coming to Cebu City from all over the world to show their gratitude to the Holy Child in the week-long Sinulog festival.

Apart from being a religious festival, Sinulog has also served as a venue to showcase the unique Cebuano artistry and creativity as participants offer stunning performances and a remarkable celebration that continues to capture the hearts of local and foreign tourists.

Sinulog Festival Activities Every Traveler Must Experience

Many travelers all over the world visit Cebu to experience the grand Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Make sure you wouldn’t miss these fun activities for an amazing festival experience!

  1. Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño
  2. Sinulog Grand Parade
  3. Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan
  4. Sinulog sa Barangay (Dakbayan)
  5. Search for Sinulog Festival Queen

What’s inside this blog?

Sinulog Festival Description

If you’re asking about the Sinulog Festival description, here’s the answer.

Sinulog means “like water current” and is actually the name of the dance ritual in honor of the Santo Niño. The dance moves to the beat of the drums and this resembles the current of a river in Cebu. Thus, calling it the Sinulog Dance. 

Now that you know the Sinulog Festival description, let’s now trace back the Sinulog festival history.


Sinulog Festival History

sinulog festival cebu

Historians say that Sinulog is the link between the Philippines’ pagan past and its Christian present.

Sinulog was already danced by the natives in honor of their wooden idols and anitos even before Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan came to Cebu on April 7, 1521 to plant the cross on its shore and claim the country for the King of Spain. Then Magellan came and introduced Christianity. He gave the image of Santo Niño as a baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, who was later named Queen Juana, wife of Cebu’s Rajah Humabon. At that time, more than 800 were baptized including the rulers and their subjects. But shortly after the religious conversion, Magellan was killed into a reckless fight with the reigning ruler of Mactan, Lapu-Lapu, on April 27, 1521.

sinulog festival cebu

It took 44 years before a new group came and started the formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on April 28, 1565, and his ships bombarded the village. Then Spanish soldier Juan Camus found the image of the Santo Niño inside a wooden box in the burned ruins of a pre-Spanish settlement in Cebu.

During the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. Every Santo Niño fiesta which falls on the third Sunday of January, children dressed in moro-moro costumes danced the Sinulog. This was not really a big event for Cebu City then.

sinulog festival cebu

In 1980, then Regional Director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development (MYSD) David S. Odilao Jr., organized the first-ever Sinulog parade.

The Sinulog steps were analyzed and further enhanced. With the help of the teachers from several schools and universities, the first Sinulog Street Dance Parade was spearheaded. The street dance parade was the start of the idea of making the Sinulog a festival.

Under the direction of then Cebu City Mayor Florentino S. Solon together with the influential names in town, a committee was formed to officially organize the first Sinulog Festival in 1981.

sinulog festival cebu

With the background of the Spanish encounters, the Sinulog committee used a native warrior’s shield on whose face is imprinted the coat of arms of the House of Hapsburg (which then ruled most of the known world from 15th-20th century) that now represents the Sinulog logo. The native shield figure symbolizes the country’s continued resistance to colonization. It represents the Filipinos’ readiness to defend the country from all forms of foreign attack and to resist any move that may endanger the country. The coat of arms of the Santo Niño on the face of the shield on the other hand, traditionally symbolizes the country’s acceptance of Christianity as European rulers brought it to the settlements.

And year after year, the Sinulog festival gets bigger and better. 


When is Sinulog Festival celebrated?

Sinulog Festival is celebrated every third Sunday of January. For Sinulog 2021, it falls on January 17.  However, due to the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic, the Sinulog Festival 2021 physical and virtual celebrations are postponed. 


What to Expect

Sinulog is one of the most-awaited events in the Philippines so expect to see a lot of people in the streets who will participate in the celebration. The Grand Street Parade which is the biggest event during Sinulog, normally starts at around 8 or 9 in the morning. There are also pyromusical shows, and a series of fun events that you should look forward to.


Sinulog Festival 2021 Schedule of Activities

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, Sinulog Festival 2021 will be done virtually.

  • January 3-10, 2021: Sinulog Festival Kick-Off – Fun Ride – Virtual Bike Challenge
  • January 4-6, 2021: Virtual Sinulog Workshop
  • January 8, 2021: Holy Mass @ Basilica del Sto. Nino | Opening Salvo Rewind
  • January 8, 2021: See Cebu in Carousel Launch
  • January 9, 2021: Sinulog sa Lalawigan Rewind @ Sinulog Facebook Page & Website
  • January 10, 2021: Sinulog sa Dakbayan Rewind @ Sinulog Facebook Page & Website
  • January 12, 2021: Festival Queen Rewind | Dollie Suzara Tribute
  • January 13, 2021: Highlands Blooms and Eco-Tourism Launching
  • January 14, 2021: Sinulog Idol Battle of the Champions | Balik Cebu: Padayun Ta
  • January 15, 2021: Festival Queen Grand Showdown @ SM Seaside Open Space Parking
  • January 16, 2021: Holy Mass c/o Basilica del Sto. Nino
  • January 17, 2021: Grand Ritual Showdown @ SRP (No audience; Virtual streaming available via Sinulog Festival Facebook Page & Website)
  • January 1-31, 2021: Cebu City Sinulog One-Stop Shop at Ayala Center Cebu
  • January 1-31, 2021: Cebuano Kini – Balik Cebu Native Exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu
  • January 8-31, 2021: The Sto. Nino – Gasa sa Ika Lima Ka Gatos Ka Tuig (500 Years Of Christianity) Exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu
  • January 8-31, 2021: Sinulog Festival Queen Costume Exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu
  • January 18, 2021 (Monday): Awarding Ceremonies
  • January 24, 2021 (Friday): “HUBO” c/o Basilica del Sto. Nino
  • January 27, 2021: Judging Sinulog 2021 Photo Contest at Robinsons Galleria Cebu
  • January 28, 2021: Judging of Finalists in Short Film/Video Documentary and Music Video Contest at Robinsons Galleria Cebu
  • February 2, 2021:
    • 1:00PM – Screening of Finalist Sinulog Short Film Festival at Robinsons Galleria Cebu
    • 6:00PM – Awarding Ceremonies Photo Contest, Short Film and Video Documentary Contest at Robinsons Galleria Cebu
  • February 1-10, 2021: Photo Exhibit Winning Photos Sinulog 2021 at Robinsons Galleria Cebu

Source: Sinulog Festival Facebook Page

Main Highlights

  • Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño
  • Sinulog Festival Grand Parade

Sinulog Festival 2021 Guide: Tips for Attending the Festival

sinulog festival cebu

From heart-pounding tribal beats and crazy bar parties to the amazing Cebuano spirit, Sinulog Festival is an absolute feast for the senses. Here are some tips to make your Sinulog experience safe and more fun:

1. Bring water
The walking, dancing, and partying during Sinulog Festival will surely tire you so be sure to bring water. This will keep you hydrated throughout the day. 

2. Wear appropriate clothes
By appropriate clothes, we mean light and comfortable clothing. This is to keep you at ease while moving around because 99% of the time, you’ll be walking and dancing with the crowd. Wear also a comfortable but tough pair of shoes to keep your feet clean and safe.

3. Wear sunscreen
Expect the weather to be hot during the day so wear sunblock to protect your skin from the scorching heat of the sun. 

4. Go with the flow
Sinulog’s massive crowd can be overwhelming. Be ready to get your face smeared with paint or water for the umpteenth time! Don’t take everything too seriously, just good vibes, have fun, and enjoy.

5. Find a Cebu hotel near the parade route
Public transportation in Cebu during Sinulog might be limited or slow to a standstill. You may also find yourself stranded in the middle of the party zone. We suggest you find a hotel within walking distance of the places where the main events will happen. Check out the Cebu budget hotels here.

6. Book your accommodations in Cebu early
Sinulog is one of the country’s biggest festivals. That means it draws millions of visitors from across the world. So the hotels in Cebu will most likely be fully booked on Sinulog season. That’s why we strongly suggest that you book your accommodations in Cebu as early as today.

What began as a revival of an old dance, brought everyone— the government, business establishments, schools, pilgrims, artists, and private individuals— together. The Sinulog festival surely gave the Cebuanos a shared passion, an identity, a culture, and a name.


Cebu Tourist Spots

And since you’re in Cebu already, the Sinulog Festival place of origin, make the most of your trip by exploring the best of the province. Here are some of the top attractions in Cebu.

  1. Oslob – For swimming with whale sharks
  2. Bantayan Island – The paradise of the North Cebu
  3. Malapascua Island – Magnificent marine life
  4. Kawasan Falls – For canyoneering
  5. Simala Shrine – A castle-like shrine
  6. Pescador Island – For swimming with millions of sardines
  7. Sirao Flower Garden – The Netherlands of Cebu

For the complete list, read this blog: 15 Amazingly Beautiful Cebu Tourist Spots to Include in Your Itinerary


Cebu Tourism Guidelines 2021 | COVID-19 Updates

As of writing, Cebu has reopened its doors to local tourists. The province has set new guidelines for entering Cebu. See the details below:

  • All passengers and personnel should wear face masks and face shields when accessing Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal premises and during their flight.
  • Persons with incomplete documents shall not be allowed to board the aircraft.
  • Confirmed Round Trip Plane Ticket must also be presented (except for LSI and ROF)
  • Fill-out Province of Cebu Public Health Passenger Locator Form

For Tourists

  1. Authority To Enter (ATE)
  2. Negative RT-PCR Test  taken within 3 days prior to the travel date
  3. Round trip flight booking  
  4. Confirmed accredited hotel reservation
  5. Travel itinerary
  6. Travel Authority issued by PNP JTF COVID Shield

For Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFS)

  1. Negative RT-PCR swab test result
  2. Valid Identification Card
  3. Quarantine certificate (proof of completion of the 14-day quarantine)

For Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIS)

  1. Authority to enter
  2. Valid I.D.
  3. Letter of Coordination (LOC) from the Barangay residence in Cebu City
  4. Medical Certificate, issued within 48 hours before departure

Authorized Persons Outside Of Residence (APORS)

  1. Authority to enter
  2. Company ID / Valid Identification Card
  3. Certificate of Employment or proof of business or profession
  4. Proof of reason for travel or intent to visit (or Appointment of visit in Cebu City)
  5. Letter of Coordination (LOC) from the Barangay residence in Cebu City
  6. Medical clearance certificate
  7. Travel clearance from the Office of the Cebu City Mayor

Frequently Asked Questions About Sinulog Festival

Q: What is the Sinulog Festival description?
A: The description of Sinulog Festival is “like water current” and is actually the name of the dance ritual in honor of the Santo Niño. The dance moves to the beat of the drums and this resembles the current of a river in Cebu. Thus, calling it the Sinulog Dance. Now let’s trace back and revive the Sinulog festival history.

Q: Is Sinulog Festival a religious festival?
A: Yes Sinulog is a religious festival. Apart from being a religious festival, Sinulog has also served as a venue to showcase the unique Cebuano artistry and creativity as participants offer stunning performances and a remarkable celebration that continues to capture the hearts of local and foreign tourists.

Q: What can I expect at the Sinulog Festival?
A: Many travelers all over the world visit Cebu to experience the grand Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Make sure you wouldn’t miss these fun activities for an amazing festival experience!

  1. Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Santo Niño
  2. Sinulog Grand Parade
  3. Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan
  4. Sinulog sa Barangay (Dakbayan)
  5. Search for Sinulog Festival Queen

Q: What does Pit Senyor mean?
A: “Pit Señor” is the short form of “Sangpit sa Señor,” a Cebuano phrase that means “to call, ask, and plead to the king.” 

Q: Where is Sinulog Festival celebrated?
A: It is celebrated in Cebu because it is the Sinulog Festival place of origin.

Q: When is Sinulog Festival celebrated?
A: Sinulog Festival in Cebu is celebrated every January.

Q: Where is Sinulog Festival place of origin?
A: The Sinulog Festival place of origin is Cebu province.

Q: Who is the Patron Saint celebrated in the Sinulog Festival?  
A: Santo Niño is the patron saint celebrated in the Sinulog Festival. For years, millions of devotees of the miraculous image of the Child Jesus, Santo Niño, have been coming to Cebu City from all over the world to show their gratitude to the Holy Child in the week-long Sinulog festival.

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