Philippines Festivals, as they say the show must go on!
Come and sneak a peak!

Philippines Festivals and Philippine Fiestas are what Filipinos live for and when it comes round to “living it up”, Filipinos are up there with the best of them. You really have not experienced the rich diversity of the Philippines until you have experienced Philippines festivals. I must admit I have know idea how they can afford to put on such extravagance with the warmth and generosity they show to all. The fun and celebration does not stop until everyone is gorged full of good food.

When I say extravagance, I mean just that, with a lechon or pig, roasting away on a rotisserie, not to mention the odd bottle of San Miguel all washed down with a nip or two of Tanduay Rum, you get the idea that fun is accomplished. During the feasting there is dancing in the streets, parades with floats and in some instances beauty pageants.

Philippines Festivals mostly evolve around a common theme of religion. The devotion they show to there religious faith is truly phenomenal. The legacy of Spanish rule brought Roman Catholicism, which is represented by some 80% of the population, 15% are Muslim with the remainder being smaller Christian denominations. So whenever the towns celebrate the feast of their patron Saint, the Philippines Festivals and Philippine Fiestas start and finish with gusto.

Here is a list of some of the larger and more well know Philippines Festivals, if you think I have left any out or not explained one properly please contact me here.

1. Quiapo Fiesta or Black Nazarene – 9th January
The Black Nazarene or Quiapo Festival starts at the Quiapo Church in Quiapo, Manila. It then continues through out the Quiapo area. In the 17th Century a life size statue of the Nazarene was carved from blackwood in Mexico, it was then brought to the Philippines in a Spanish Galleon. The Black Nazarene Festival honours the death and affliction of Christ.

Thousands upon thousands of Catholics surge into the streets following probably the largest procession in the Philippines. All the devotees try to touch the Black Nazarene in the hope that good fortune will fall on them.

2. Ati-Atihan – Third Sunday in January (Three days)
This festival in Kalibo on the island of Panay gets its origins from the Malay settles from Borneo in the 13th Century and the local indigenous tribe on Panay, the Ati, the festival was a giving of thanks by the Malay to the Ati for letting them settle on there lands. Latter the opportunistic Spanish, used the festival to keep the Muslim faith out of the area and once they were rejected, the Spanish quickly used the victory to give thanks Santo Nino or the child Jesus. It was from this point onwards that the Ati-Atihan Festival became religious.

The Ati-Atihan Festival is the closest the Philippines will get to Mardi Gras. The revelery is intoxicating, drums, whistles, horns all blaring in unison provide an atmosphere that gets the pulse surging. The dress code is colourful and bright, just about anything goes.

3. Sinulog – Third Sunday in January
This festival is held on the island of Cebu in Cebu City. The Sinulog Festival is now a street parade with excitable dancing in colourful and outlandish costumes.

The Sinulog is a dance that was said to date back to the time of Magellan, apparently at the time Santo Nino was presented, the natives become transfixed with the occasion and were stamping and shuffling two and fro during the presentation. This dance is seen outside the San Augustin Church not only during the Sinulog Festival but on any occasion by extreme followers.

4. Dinagyang – Last weekend in January
The Dinagyang Festival is said to be the true Ati-Atihan. The festival occurs in Iloilo City on Panay. Not nearly as robust as the counterpart in Kalibo but more somber without much fan fare.

5. Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival – Last week in February
This festival has it all, from beautiful flower masterpieces to beauty pageants. It is a huge parade through the centre of town with floats adorned with flowers and colourful costumes, not to mention garden exhibits and shows.

For information on Baguio have a look here.

6. Moriones Festival
This festival occurs on the island of Marinduque during Holy Week. The Moriones Festival would have to be one of the most famous in the Philippines. Have a look for more information on Marinduque and Moriones Festival.

7. Turumba Festival – Good Friday
Also during Holy Week the Turumba Festival in Pakil, Laguna Province, dates back centuries where animal sacrifices were performed. The actual Turumba is a dance whereby the participants jump and leap and skip all in a motion of dance.

8. Flores de Mayo, Santacruzan – The whole of May
This festival celebrates the Virgin Mary, young girls all dressed in white cover statutes of the Virgin Mary with flowers in her honour. The Flore de Mayo is quite literally the flower festival of May, it culminates in the Santacruzan procession. The whole of the Philippines give tribute to the Flores de Mayo.

9. Carabao Festival – 14th & 15th May
The Carabao Festival honours the patron saint of San Isidro. The local Carabao (Water Buffalo) is decorated with bright and colourful costume. The carabao is then blessed in the town square by he town priest. A race is then conducted and at the end the farmers kneel and are blessed by the town priest once again.

The Carabao festival occurs in the towns of San Isidro, Pulilan and Angono in the respective provinces of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Rizal

10. Pahiyas sa Quezon - 15th May
Held on the afternoon of the 15th May in the towns of Lucban, Tayabas and Sariaya in Quezon province. This is a harvest festival with the village houses adorned in local produce and agricultural products.

11. Obando Fertility Rites – 17th to 19th May
Childless couples from all over the Philippines make the long pilgrimage to Obando on Bulacan, which is about an hour and a half from Manila.

The childless couples perform the unique fertility dance, where they move back and forth, arms held above there heads to the song. This three day festival is celebrated in honour of Santa Clara, San Pascual Baylon and Virgen de Salambao.

12. Philippines Independence Day – June 12
A national holiday in the Philippines, with ceremonies and military parades showing Philippine nationalism.

13. Pintados Festival – June 29
The Pintados Festival celebrates the bravery of there warrior ancestors. This festival occurs in Tacloban City on the island of Leyte. The actual festival centres on the body painting and in some instances tattooing.

14. Kadayawan sa Davao – Third week in August
Another harvest celebration, giving thanks with a parade of floats, dancing and general merriment, for a bountiful harvest of orchids, fruits and flowers. Occurs in Davao, Mindanao.

15. Penafrancia Festival – 3rd Saturday in September
This is a huge festival and the largest in Bicol Region. The Penafrancia Festival is a celebration in honour of the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia. There are parades, markets, beauty pageants, sporting competitions and ending with the river parade on Naga River.

16. Masskara Festival- Around 19th October
Held in Bacolod City in Negros, the festival entices people to wear masks and dance to music on the streets while enjoying the beauty pageants and sports competitions.

17. Lanzones Festival – 25th October
I had to include this festival as the Lanzones are my favourite fruit in the Philippines.

The Lanzones Festival celebrates a bountiful harvest of this luscious fruit with a wild dancing street parade in Camiguin.

18. Higantes Festival – 23rd November
The fishing village gives thanks to there patron saint, San Clemente. With huge paper mache puppets this water parade has general fun with water fights with much revelry.

19. Giant Lantern Festival – 24th December
This is a huge competition with massive lanterns being paraded in San Fernando, Pampanga. These gigantic Lanterns are quite spectacular and you should try and see them if you get a chance.

20. Misa de Gallo
Misa de Gallo starts on the 16th December and runs for 9 nights which lead into Christmas. They are predawn masses and occur all over the Philippines.

Have you been to a Philippine Festival?

Which Philippine Festival did you see? What did you think of the Festival? Did you Enjoy it?

Where did you see the Festival? Do you have a great story about it? Share it!

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