Top 10 Philippine Festivals that Filipinos Love

A Sinulog Reveler Holding an Icon of Sto. Niño
A Sinulog Reveler Holding an Icon of Sto. Niño | Source
A Lady in Panagbenga Festival Clothed in Tribal Ifugao Costume
A Lady in Panagbenga Festival Clothed in Tribal Ifugao Costume | Source

Why Filipinos Celebrate Festivals

Sociable and cheerful, we Filipinos love holding Philippine festivals, celebrations that are fun, colorful, exciting and also very meaningful.

Called fiesta or pista in the Filipino language, these festivals are held all year round in many islands of the Philippines for different reasons:

  • to give thanks for good harvest or catch
  • to mark special events in local history
  • to venerate Catholic saints

Whatever the reasons for staging them might be, Philippine festivals are deep-rooted in our culture.

They have been celebrated by many generations of Filipinos.

They have helped us form and seal friendships and camaraderie with one another.

They have also lifted our sometimes battered spirits. They are such a great let-up from our otherwise hardy life in the country.

There are so many festivals in the Philippines and the list definitely goes beyond 10.

Still, below is a short list of the top 10 most colorful, exciting, and fun fiestas in the Philippines.

Top 10 Philippines Festivals

1. Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

Considered as the mother of Philippine festivals, Ati-Atihan Festival is held yearly in Kalibo, Aklan in Panay Island, Philippines.

It is said to be the precursor of other grand festivals in the Philippines, including the Sinulog Festival of Cebu City and the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City.

In this festival, townsfolk dress themselves in aboriginal clothes and deck their bodies with weapons used by the island’s earliest settlers – the Aetas.

Then, they perform tribal dances, moving to the upbeat tune of traditional music as they wind through Kalibo’s streets that are then jampacked with spectators.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

third weekend of January each year

2. Sinulog Festival of Cebu City

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

A festival that marks the local people’s transition from paganism to Catholicism, Sinulog Festival of Cebu City is celebrated in a grand way for nine days in January each year.

It is held in honor of Santo Niño, whose icon is carried by many of the festivals elegantly dressed revelers.

It kicks off with a fluvial procession – where an icon of Santo Niño is hosted in a boat adorned with flowers and candles – and ends with the festive Sinulog Grand Parade – a parade of costumed townsfolk gracefully dancing while cleaving to icons of Santo Niño.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

third weekend of January each year

3. Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

A festival that exhibits the local people’s excellent choreography, Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo is a religious-cultural event famous for its Ati-Atihan and Kasadyahan.

Ati-Atihan is a parade of about twenty groups of local people dressed as tribesmen.

Their bodies are covered in soot and they dance to the beat of drums and gongs.

Kasadyahan is a cultural presentation of the province’s early history and the people’s conversion to Catholicism.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

fourth weekend of January each year

4. Panagbenga Festival of Baguio City

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

A festival meant to inspire the local people to “bloom” and move forward after a 1990 earthquake left their city shattered, Panagbenga Festival or Flower Festival of Baguio City is also homage to the beautiful flowers that bloom in Baguio, the Philippines’ summer capital.

During this festival, local folks create floats that are ornately decorated with flowers grown in Baguio and its surrounding provinces.

They also dress themselves in flower-inspired costumes, perform traditional dances to the sounds of drums, and parade down the city’s main roads.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

whole month of February / parade on the last Sunday of February or first Sunday of March

5. Moriones Festival of Marinduque

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

A Lenten Season celebration that fuses folk history and religious events, Moriones Festival of Marinduque has the local people wearing masks to appear like the Roman soldiers of the biblical times.

This festival pays tribute to Saint Longinus, a commander of a century in the Roman army, who was blind in one eye.

This centurion’s story is reenacted in an elaborate theatrical play staged by the locals.

Many Moriones Festival’s revelers also wear masks during the festival season, roaming the streets and jolting people for good-spirited fun.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

Good Friday of the Lenten Season of each year

6. Carabao Festival of Pulilan

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

The Carabao Festival of Pulilan in Bulacan is a day of respect for Saint Isidore the Worker – the patron saint of the farmers – and the Filipino farmers’ work companions – the carabaos or water buffalos.

In this festival, carabaos are paraded on the streets and made to kneel at the end of the parade.

The act of kneeling is supposed to replicate a man who knelt before Saint Isidore after finding out by surprise that an angel would help the saint plow the fields.

In the Philippines, carabaos help farmers toil the soil.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

May 14 and May 15 of each year

7. Pahiyas Festival of Lucban

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

Another festival held in honor of Saint Isidore, who Filipinos ask for intercession when praying for a bountiful harvest, is the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban in the province of Quezon.

This festival is very famous for its decorations, as households try to top one another in decking their houses’ facades with fruits, vegetables and handicrafts, creating an explosion of colors in Lucban’s streets.

Also during this festival, people share foods with one another.

These foods include pancit Lucban, triangulo biscuits, fruits, vegetables, and other local treats.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

May 15 of each year

8. Peñafrancia Festival of Naga City

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

The Peñafrancia Festival is a religious festival that honors Naga City’s patron saint – the Our Lady of Peñafrancia – whose wooden icon was brought to the province by its devotees all the way from Salamanca, Spain.

It is a nine-day novena that is capped with a fluvial procession, where the image of the Our Lady Peñafrancia is carried in a pagoda down the Naga River and accompanied by hundreds of flower- and candle-bearing faithful Catholics who chant "Viva La Virgen!"

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

third Saturday of September each year

9. Higantes of Festival of Angono

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

Fishermen and townsfolk in Angono, Rizal in the Philippines honor the city’s patron saint – San Clemente – on November 23 of each year during the Higantes Festival.

The saint’s gigantic images, made of recycled and painted paper, are paraded by fishermen wearing colorful clothing and bearing fishnets, boat paddles, and other tools they use for fishing.

These images are as high as 12 feet and as wide as five feet.

The parade navigates the streets of Angono until it reaches the banks of Laguna de Bay.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

November 23 of each year

10. Giant Lantern Festival of San Fernando

Why Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

Christmas is such a big event for the Filipinos but for the people of San Fernando, it is enormous.

In fact, they like their Christmas lanterns not big but gigantic.

The local people stage the annual Giant Lantern Festival, an awe-inspiring display of oversized lanterns handcrafted by the locals and made to light up to the tune of lively music and breathtaking fireworks.

So popular is this local festival that San Fernando has earned the title of the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.

When Filipinos Celebrate this Festival

the Saturday before Christmas Eve of each year

Copyright © 2012 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

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Comments 8 comments

Pravinsinh Chavda 3 years ago

Really it's a great effort from you

Its really helpful site for those who want to celebrate and enjoy Festival of philippine like me

I again Thank you for helping like us visitors


Rolan Palquiran 3 years ago

Try Buyogan Festival ... I hope you see world-class performance....

But those festivals are great :)


tastiger04 profile image

tastiger04 3 years ago

Very interesting hub!! I have only heard of the Carabao Festival, it was fascinating to read about the rest. Thank you for writing this and sharing! Voted up and interesting :)


tattuwurn 3 years ago

Like other festivals in many Catholic countries, the old pagan traditions and Christian rites are fused into one joyful celebration.

I live on the neighboring district (Binangonan) but I think I haven't missed the Higantes Festival every year. My friends and old high school classmates live there. It's a lot of fun. And even if I'm not a resident of Angono, I also shout "Viva San Clemente!" with the crowd and parade with them (who are carrying the image of the patron saint) until we get to "wawa' (Laguna de Bay). Thanks for posting!

Voted up and awesome. :)


jga 3 years ago

what about masskara?


Jocy 3 years ago

Nice, how can I download this, its a great help to me...


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very informative about great Philippine Festival. I can't wait to see one of these festival one day. Of course, If I have a chance to visit Philippine. Thank you very much. Rated up and take care!

Prasetio


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

Nice list Kerlynb. I myself have only seen 3 of the 10 you have listed and they are all crowded and fun. :)

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