Do you know one of the reasons we hate COVID-19? Aside from pretty much shutting down the world and changing the way we live? It’s that it’s preventing us from doing any form of social gathering. That means a lot of Philippine famous festivals didn’t push through this year. And holding festivals in the country are important to Filipinos. Celebrating festivals is a way to honor our culture and traditions so we don’t forget our roots. And of course, festivals are a good excuse to have fun and enjoy moments with friends and families. They’re also great for the tourism industry of the country – each festival serves as a tourist attraction.
But we are optimistic that maybe next year, these famous festivals will push through. We are hoping for the best so that Philippine travel will be more regular. But in the meantime here’s a list of some famous Philippine festivals we miss attending… and we hope to attend in 2022. Think of the list as a traveler’s guide for celebrating festivals – and what you should catch!
Philippine Famous Festivals in Luzon
Pahiyas Festival – Lucban Quezon Festival
The Pahiyas Festival is a colorful celebration and religious festivity done in Lucban, Quezon Province. It’s also one of the more famous harvest festivals in the Philippines. It is an annual homage to San Isidro Labrador for a good harvest. He is the patron saint of farmers. Lucban residents hold the festival every May, with thousands of Philippine travelers coming over to celebrate.
During this harvest festival, residents decorate their houses with their best agricultural products, mostly vegetables, and fruits. “Kiping” – a leaf-shaped wafer made from glutinous rice – is the dominant decoration.
Aside from the colors and vibrancy, the major attraction is the “Kalas” procession. Basically, it’s a free, grab-all-you-can of the house decors! House owners will try to stop it from happening, but it’s all part of the fun.
Panagbenga Festival – Philippine Famous Festival in Baguio
The Panagbenga Festival is a flower festival that Baguio city residents celebrate every February in Baguio City. “Panagbenga” comes from a Kankanaey term that means “season of blooming”. Residents celebrate this festival to reflect the history, traditions, and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras. It’s a fun, month-long celebration.
Do you plan to come over next year for this Philippine festival? Make sure to prepare yourself for really bad traffic! You won’t be the only one who would want to see this colorful and fresh fiesta. But it’s definitely worth the journey and the watch. There’s street dancing, and a beautiful float parade, featuring different floats of characters made of flowers.
Lechon Festival – a delicious Philippine Famous Festival
If you’re a lechon lover, this should be a popular festival for you. The Lechon Festival or “Parada ng Lechon” in Tagalog is a festival held to honor St. John the Baptist. It takes place every June 24 in Luzon – in Balayan, Batangas, to be exact. Participants take a roasted pig and dress it up however they want to. So imagine coming over and seeing a bunch of lechons as colorful as can be!
And because the festival is to honor St. John the Baptist, you know what else happens? A whole bunch of splashing! Be prepared to get wet, because the festival is to signify the baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist. So what happens is while residents are parading lechons around town, other people will be splashing people. Including you, if they see you! Sounds fun, right? Feel free to splash people right back. When the parade is over, it’s time to eat lechon, plus more drinking and feasting.
Higantes Festival – an artistic affair
Angono residents hold the Higantes Festival every Sunday before November 23. It’s also another of the well-known festivals in the Philippines, thanks to the higantes. A “higante” in the Philippines means giant. So yes, you will see plenty of giants in this festival. Don’t worry, they’re all made of paper-mache. And since people know Angono, Rizal as the “Art Capital of the Philippines,” you can expect creative and colorful paper-mache giants!
People used giants, which are based on Angono folklore, as a symbol of protest during Spanish times. Nowadays, people from Angono consider the giants as a symbolism of people’s aspirations to be great in their respective fields. People also use the festival to express gratitude to Saint Clement, Angono’s patron saint.
Moriones Festival – one of the solemn Philippine famous festivals
The Moriones Festival is one of the oldest and famous religious festivals in the Philippines. People observe it every Holy Week in Marinduque. Moriones comes from the word “morion” which means mask or visor. It’s a reference to the mask in the Moriones Festival costume.
The festival is a dedication to Longinus, the half-blind Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with a lance. The legend goes that when Longinus did that, some of Jesus’ blood went into his eye, and his sight returned. That convinced Longinus that Jesus was really the Son of God and converted to Christianity. Of course, that’s a mortal sin for Romans, so he ends up on the run.
The festival re-enacts the search for Longinus by Roman soldiers. So if you have figured it out, unlike the other festivals on this list, this is not a festive occasion. Penitents who participate in this wear costumes similar to Roman soldiers during the time of Jesus. This is their way of atonement for sins they have committed.
Giant Lantern Festival – an early Christmas celebration
The Giant Lantern Festival is held in San Fernando City in Pampanga. It’s one of the more joyful festivals people celebrate since it involves Christmas elements! Every second Sunday in December, people go over to San Fernando to spot the festive giant lanterns. This festival has made San Fernando world-famous! In fact, the city has earned the title “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
The giant lanterns are usually star-shaped – easily an iconic symbol of Christmas in the Philippines. Each lantern is easily 20 feet in diameter and features intricate lighting set to classic Christmas carols. The festival makes for a fun holiday experience for friends and families alike. And the best part? We personally know that Pampanga has some of the best food in the Philippines. So make sure to try out the food during or after the show!
Philippine Famous Festivals in Visayas
Ati-atihan Festival – Mother of all Festivals
People associate Kalibo with Boracay, but Kalibo is also the home of the Ati-atihan Festival. It is one of the most famous festivals in the Philippines. In fact, Ati-atihan is known as “the mother of all festivals.” It literally means “to be like Atis or Aetas”, who are Aklan Province’s natives. It is to celebrate Santo Niño, making it similar to Sinulog (more on that later). Visit Kalibo, Aklan during this festival and see locals sporting face and body paints in honor of the native Aetas. Travel guides may not mention it, but if you’re willing, you can join in the festivities! Paint yourself up and dress in your own costume.
The Ati-Atihan consists of multiple events happening in different parts of Kalibo. From solemn masses to partying on the streets, you’ll have your pick of activities! The activities include religious processions, street parades, themed floats, and dancing groups wearing colorful costumes. marching bands, and people
Sinulog Festival – arguably THE most famous of all the Philippine famous festivals
Sinulog is a famous religious and cultural festival celebrated in Cebu. Specifically, it is celebrated in Cebu City, which is also called the Queen City. Sinulog actually comes from the Cebuano term “sulog,” which means “like water current movement”. It describes the movement of the Sinulog street dance.
This festival celebrates the Santo Niño de Cebú, the statue handed to Rajah Humabon by Ferdinand Magellan. Sinulog can also be the answer to the question, “What is the most popular festival in the Philippines?” Of course, we’re sure a lot of other festivals would beg to disagree. But we can’t deny that Sinulog is very popular! It attracts about a million visitors from all over the Philippines.
The festival itself is a week-long event filled with processions, parties, concerts, street dancing, and even concerts. You should not forget to indulge in lechon, which Cebu is known for!
Dinagyang Festival – an Iloilo, Philippines famous festival
The Dinagyang Festival is a religious festival slash cultural festival held in Iloilo City. It’s one of the Philippine festivals celebrated in January. It can also compete for the most famous festival in the Philippines. Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word that means “merrymaking.” Just like Ati-atihan and Sinulog, Dinagyang celebrates the devotion to the Santo Niño. It also commemorates when Malay settlers arrived and the barter of Panay Island from the natives.
During Dinagyang, Iloilo City becomes a huge street party. You can expect overflowing food and drinks all over! There will also be dancing from participants with colorful tribal costumes.
MassKara Festival – a mask-wearing festival in the country
It’s October. Are you in the Philippines? Travel to Bacolod City and participate in its MassKara Festival! It’s one of the very popular festivals in the Philippines. Bacolod City is known as the City of Smiles, and October is just the time for Bacolod to show that title.
During the festival, locals wear masks during parades. MassKara is a combination of the words “mass” meaning “many” and “kara” meaning “faces. “Maskara” is the Filipino word for mask. It can literally mean “many faces” and is a reference to the Filipino word at the same time. Isn’t that just some cool wordplay?
For such a happy celebration, can you believe that this festival was because of two major tragedies back in 1980? After thoe two happened, peoples’ spirits were down. But the mayor at the time, Jose “Digoy” Montalvo, suggested having a mask festival in Bacolod. The smiling masks become a declaration of the people of Bacolod that they can pull through all challenges and tragedies.
The colorful costumes of the people, street dancing, and more would attract anyone to participate in such a lively celebration. Wouldn’t you agree?
Pintados Festival – honoring the inked warriors
The Pintados Festival is another one of the religious and cultural festivals in the Philippines. This time, it originates in Tacloban City. It’s celebrated in view of body-painting practices of the old inked warriors, known as the “pintados”. Locals of Tacloban go around the city with their bodies and faces painted with vibrant colors. People use the festival also to celebrate Santo Niño.
Philippine Famous Festivals in Mindanao
Kadayawan Festival – one of Philippine famous festivals in Davao
The Kadayawan Festival is a cultural celebration in Davao City. Davanoenos celebrate it every third week of August. Both locals and tourists highly anticipate this festival celebration, making it a popular festival in Philippines! Kadayawan is an expression of Dabawenyos, derived from the word “madayaw”, meaning good, valuable, and superior.
The festival serves two purposes. The first is to give honor to its indigenous people. Davao has 11 tribes: Iranun, Ata, Kagan, Bagobo Klata, Maguindanaon, Bagobo Tagabawa, Maranao, Matigsalug, Sama, Obu Manuvu, and Taosug. The second reason is to give thanks for a good harvest. It’s a celebration of nature, which is why people decorate the streets with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The festivities include colorful, costumed performers doing lively street dances and the Kadayawan floral parade. You’ll see the various ethnic groups represented. Aside from the parade, there are also horse fights, boat races, and even beauty pageants.
Tuna Festival – a tribute to tuna
If Luzon has a tribute to lechon, Mindanao has a tribute to tuna in General Santos City! You see, General Santos City is the premier fish fish producer of the Philippines. It has the country’s seven tuna canning plants! So in honor of that, the Tuna Festival was born.
During this festival, residents hold activities to honor the fishing industry. One of those are the showcasing of colorful, ocean-themed floats. People also look forward to Sugbahan sa Dalan. Residents set up long lines of grills on the streets and grill a whole lot of tuna – all which are free to eat! Now this festival is indeed for the foodies! No wonder the Tuna Festival is a famous festival in Mindanao!
T’nalak Festival – a preservation of cultural heritage
The T’Nalak Festival is a famous festival held in South Cotabato, in Mindanao. It’s a yearly celebration commemorating the founding anniversary of South Cotabato and honoring the cultural heritage of T’nalak.
The festival is named after T’nalak, a colorful woven cloth made from abaca fibers with geometric designs. It is intricately crafted by the T’bolis of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The patterns of the fabric are symbolic of diversity, resilience, and whatever the weavers dream of. It is said that for one to make a T’nalak, one has to dream of it. It’s the reason why South Cotabato is known as The Land of Dreamweavers.
The festival is also a victory for the people of South Cotabato. See, if you were looking for popular festivals in the Philippines, you wouldn’t think of South Cotabato. Why? Because the place has always been associated with armed conflict. But in 1989, Lang Dulay, a famous dreamweaver, was proclaimed a National Living Treasure. T’nalak essentially became a tourist attraction, thus, the festival was born.
Like the other festivals on the list, T’nalak has dancing, a grand parade, and even a beauty contest.
Philippine Famous Festivals means lots of Filipino food!
Do you know one more thing we missed about attending Philippine famous festivals? We didn’t get to eat a lot of our favorite Filipino food. You see, during any fiesta in the Philippines, houses are open for everybody, complete with delicious food! A celebrated festival always means happy tummies. Even if you don’t know anyone in the house, you can just go inside and eat to your heart’s content.
But hey, you know something? You don’t have to wait for festivals in the Philippines to eat your favorite Pinoy food. You can enroll in our Classic Pinoy Favorites class instead!
Chef Chona is your instructor here. From recipes from her Kakanin class, she now brings you her kitchen-tested recipes! You’ll learn how to cook classic Filipino dishes from scratch, using ingredients that are available in supermarkets. Not only will these dishes meet your Filipino food cravings, but they’re also great to serve for a food business!
You’ll learn to make the following:
- Special Kare Kare with Ginisang Bagoong Recipe
- Street BBQ
- Fresh Lumpia
- Special Pancit Palabok
- Pork Pata Hamonado
And like with all her other classes, Chef Chona will give you the procedures in easy-to-follow steps! You’ll easily recreate her dishes in the comfort of your own home.
So if you’re craving your favorite, delicious Filipino food, what are you waiting for? Enroll in Classic Pinoy Favorites now!