Best & Famous Festivals in the Philippines

a group of children dancing in white yellow and red costumes during a festival holding an infant Jesus

The Philippines is known as a country that regularly celebrates festivals of culture and religion all year round. The country is rich in various cultures and religions that harmoniously coexist despite their differences. To guide you, here are some of the most famous festivals in the Philippines to participate in as a foreigner or a local looking for a new adventure.

List of Festivals in the Philippines

Whether you’re looking for a religious miracle or just want to immerse yourself in the beautiful culture of the nation, there is certainly a festival for you. With thousands of islands, each embraces individuality, making them stand out. Continue reading the list to help you narrow down the celebrations you want to attend!

Sinulog

Over the years, the Sinulog festival has made a name for itself across the country and the world. It is a celebration commemorating Santo Niño during Spain’s colonization of the Philippines. Legend has it that it celebrates Baladhay’s healing from an illness by dancing to the Catholic symbol. Baladhay was Raja Humabon’s advisor, who significantly influenced the country’s conversion to Catholicism.

Sinulog is held every third Sunday of January. It boasts vivid street parties and dances, historical reenactments, parades, and more. Cebu gains a lot from this holiday, with millions of tourists flocking to the city to celebrate. The popular dance also has origins in Baladhay’s dance during his recovery. 

Feast of the Black Nazarene

a black and white photo of numerous devotees trying to wipe the Black Nazarene

Another famous festival in the Philippines is the Traslación, or Feast of the Black Nazarene. It is celebrated in the country’s capital, Metro Manila, every ninth of January. The celebration’s main highlight is the transport of the Black Nazarene from Luneta to Quiapo. The relic was brought to the Philippines by Spaniards on May 31, 1606.

Numerous pilgrims believe that wiping on the statue has healing capabilities. Additionally, it is believed to have miraculous capabilities, surviving multiple disasters. These tragedies include earthquakes, fires, and the bombing of the country’s capital in 1945. Traditions begin days before January 9 when many devotees line up to the displayed statue on Quirino Grandstand to kiss the religious emblem.

A record-breaking transfer of the Black Nazarene was set in 2012, taking twenty-two hours to arrive at its destination. During this procession, the statue’s base broke earlier.

See Also: Top Beautiful Churches In Metro Manila

Masskara

A relatively new festival to the list of these in the Philippines is Masskara. This takes place at Bacolod in the province of Negros Occidental. The province is known as the “Sugar Bowl of the Philippines” due to its thriving sugar production and industry. 

In the 1980s, other sweetening alternatives were introduced to the national market, leading to its decline. This year specifically was hard for the province, as it was struck by several tragedies, including the sinking of the MV Don Juan.

During these times, citizens of the province began to create papier mâché masks from coconut husks to sell to tourists for additional income. Due to unfortunate circumstances and taking inspiration from the people’s efforts, the local government created the “Festival of Smiles,” or Masskara as we know it today, on October 19, 1980. 

Panagbenga

Another popular festival in the Philippines is Panagbenga, which celebrates the blooming of flowers in Baguio. A big earthquake hit the province of Baguio in 1990, leaving its people quivered. In their local language, the festival’s name means “season of blooming, ” symbolizing their strength and resilience after a disaster. 

The Panagbenga event has lots to see, including staple festival dances in the Philippines. Other attractions include extravagant garden exhibits and parades, a parade of floats, delicious food at the Session Road street fair, and more.

The festival’s highlight is the “Grand Floral Float Parade.” Contestants can compete in three categories: small, medium, and large. During this, carts are decorated with vibrant flowers, natural materials, and other vegetation common in the city. The parade begins at the Upper Session and ends at the Melvin Jones Football Grounds.

See Also: Top 10 Baguio Tourist Destinations To Visit

Moriones

Another famous festival in the Philippines is the Moriones in Marinduque. It celebrates Longinus’ conversion to Christianity and lasts from the beginning of Palm Sunday to Easter. Like other religious celebrations in the country, this one has deep roots during the Spanish colonial era. 

The Moriones celebration began when Father Dionisio Santiago wanted to celebrate Holy Week in the Philippines in a unique manner. Through this, the church was able to come up with pilgrims dressing up in heavy armor and participating in a procession across the town.

Many locals serve in the procession for penance, walking the hot and humid streets in heavy and warm costumes. This festival celebrates Longinus’ conversion and showcases his life after that event. The celebration follows this order:

  • Paglalakbay
  • Way of the Cross
  • Longinus’ beheading
a group of Filipinos dancing during a festival wearing bright-colored outfits and using large fans as props

Final Thoughts

Many famous festivals in the Philippines attract national and international tourists. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of these events are celebrated at different levels, from village celebrations to national festivals. So if you want to visit a country where there seems to be an occasion regularly, add the Philippines to your list.

Related: Philippine Travel Itinerary to Check Out

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you want to know more about the famous festivals in the country, here are a few questions that may help you gain more information.

What is the most famous festival in the Philippines?

Among the celebrations in the country, the most prominent one is the Sinulog Festival. It is celebrated not only in Cebu but across the nation, too. Numerous Filipinos and foreigners celebrate this holiday with activities like processions and dancing.

What is the oldest festival in the Philippines?

The oldest religious occasion in the country is the Ati-Atihan Festival, which celebrates the infant Jesus. However, it was first celebrated by pagan Filipinos before the Spaniards colonized.

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