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Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

There are spectacular places and jaw-dropping beaches in the Philippines that make tourists want to extend their vacations. But the real beauty of the country does not only lie on the turquoise blue water and other famous places. It is, in fact in the culture embraced in history and religion. Until these days, this remains relevant due to the celebration of festivals. It is not surprising to know that the majority of the festival is religious. Aside from the religious themes of the festival, there are also some festivities that uphold the unique culture of a certain place. In this article, you will know some of the famous festivals in the philippines that you must definitely see. If you have not seen any of these, then you are missing a lot.

Famous Festivals in the Philippines: Introduction

Plenty of provinces and cities in the Philippines have festivals or fiestas (for barangays) celebrated yearly. For most of the Filipinos, this is a celebration where they get to showcase what their hometown is known for. These festivities have been implanted in the Filipino tradition even prior to the coming of Spaniards.

There are different kinds of famous festivals in the Philippines. Most of the themes are religious, cultural, seasonal, and national. The considerable amount festivals being celebrated in the country is about their religion. Also, for religious festivals, it is a way to honor the patron saint of a certain province or city.

It takes a grandiose preparation in order to successfully pull off a Philippine festival. There are masses, processions, parade, beauty contests, and several other activities are conducted for this special occasion. Apparently Filipinos take this seriously give all they got as it reunites the community together and shows their appreciation to God. You can clearly see how important serious this is to Filipinos as there are even balikbayans who return to the country just to see and participate to the festivals.

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

History of Festivals in the Philippines

Filipinos used to practice animism. This is the method of worshipping the spirits in order to alleviate the spirits that bring bad luck. These spirits are known to take control of aspects of human life, like health, wealth, loved ones, career, and subsistence. In order to get rid of bad luck and appease these spirits, custom offerings are normally conducted by the locals.  Catholic missionaries who came together with the Spaniards initiated the fiestas to moderately convince the whole community to shift to the Roman Catholic faith.

In present times, Christian is the well-known religion of the Philippines in Asia. One thing that magnifies this is how the practices taught by the Spaniards aligned greatly with that of the indigenous rituals conducted by Filipinos. Famous festivals in the Philippines are celebrations to show appreciation for a positive yield in honor of a certain town’s patron saint. Filipinos, especially those who live in provincial areas allot their time just to participate in such festivals to make attract good luck in the succeeding year. In addition to that, some locals believe that the bigger they give or contribute, the more gains they will receive.

Importance of Festivals/Fiestas

For a lot of Filipinos, festivities are necessary because of the amazing power of the saints. It is known that the saints are capable of providing all the good luck and favor one embraces. Aside from that, it is also during this celebration that the locals get to commemorate their culture and traditions that are given on to the future generation. Fiestas portray the religion and faith of the Filipinos. In fact, this is the most part of society. In the present times, on the other hand, a unique cultural aspect that is distinct to the community is favored as the main subject for a lot of celebrations.

Other Reasons Why You Should Visit the Philippines During Festival Season

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

1.A creative feast for your eyes

During festivals, you will that almost all the houses are filled with colorful decorations. This will amaze you because it is proof of how creative Filipinos ca be. Also, if you will take a close gander at each house, you will see that there are flags, especially during National Day. In fact, there are small details that represent the theme of the festivity. Even though you are not fond of decorating the outside of your house, if you are living in the Philippines you would want to put at least minimal decors. This is to show your support to your hometown.

I once saw the Pahiyas Festival in Quezon Province, Philippines. It was my first time to witness a festival and I was really amazed by how Filipinos unleash their creativity by simply decorating their houses. I saw several varieties of string beans and vegetables displayed in the windows and balcony. Apart from that, there are life-sized dolls, beautiful flowers, and paper lanterns on the street.

2.Marvel at the Procession

Aside from the creative decorations, cities, and towns conduct procession regardless of the theme. During the procession, you will be amazed by the bands, performers, giant floats, and the cheerful crowd.

In addition to that, you will see that despite the hot weather in the Philippines, the people always has a smile on their face while practicing on the procession or just watching the procession. Actually it is what the Filipinos are known for, they are always positive and see the brighter side of things. Also, once the crowd saw the procession approaching they will beautifully split to make a way no matter how crowded the area is.

3. Grab all the Food that You Can!

Very few towns practice this “grab all you can during procession”. And yes, it is actually what you think it is. The Araña’t Baluarte festival held at Gumaca had this hanging baskets filled with fruits and even live chicken in an open large moving vehicle. Once the procession moves and it passes by you, you can jump and grab everything that you can.

What people do so that they can get plenty of freebies is they bring other family members or friends and each individual focuses on one area only.

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

4. Filipinos are Fun

“Filipinos are fun” I often hear this from friends who came to visit the Philippines from other countries. Nothing really beats the energy of the Filipinos. According to him, when he was just inside the Philippine airplane, the crews challenge the passengers to do the tongue twister. Also, he stated that even though the game was short, it is a reflection of the Filipino culture – hospitable and fun.

5. Try the Street Food

The Philippines is also known for having the best tasting street foods. During festivals, you will see several vendors along the street selling different kinds of street foods. What is great about this is that they come at very cheap prices. That being said, a small amount of money will go a long way!

On the other hand, if it is your first time to taste Filipino street foods, you should be extra careful. This is because some foods contain ingredients that might give negative reactions to your body especially if you are not used to eating street foods. To make sure, bring anti-diarrhea medicine! Although your chance of getting an upset stomach is very low.

6. The Best Atmosphere

One of the most famous festivals in the philippines is the Pahiyas festival. The locals even start decorating their homes a week before the event proper. Aside from that, people living in Manila go all the way to the town just to have fun. People do not mind the heat as long as they get to witness the festivity. Believe it or not, no one will complain and people will just continuously take photos of the gigantic sunflower.

Famous Festivals in the Philippines

Now that you know the history of festivals in the Philippines, let us see these famous festivals. You should see at least once in your lifetime and I assure you it is going to be one of the best trips of your life.

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

1.Sinulog Festival

When: Third Sunday of January

The Sinulog festival of Cebu is a religious festival held every third Sunday of January. Yearly, approximately 1-2 million people participate in the said festival. That being said, this is believed to be the most popular festival in the Philippines. Moreover, this is the center of commemorations for Santo Nino Catholics.

As mentioned in the previous part of the article, the Philippines is known as a Roman Catholic country. With that, the majority of festivals in the country are about religion. On the other hand, Sinulog festival does not only showcase their appreciation to their Santo Nino, there are also street parades that showcase the creativity of the locals. Aside from this, there are performances from Cebuanos.

While you are either joining or witnessing the parade, expect that you will hear someone from the crowd saying  “Pit Señor!” which comes from the Cebuano expression“Panangpit sa Señor” or “to plead to the Santo Niño”.

2. Ati-Atihan Festival

When: Third Sunday of January

Another popular festival in the Philippines is the Ati-Atihan Festival. While other people are enjoying the Sinulog Festival, another festival is happening on the same day.

This festival is known as the “The Mother of All Philippine Festivals”. Also, this one is more popular than the Sinulog Festival and it is the widely adapted festivity in the entire archipelago.

In the term “Ati-Atihan” the term “ati” means Aeta and the term “Ati-Atihan” means to be an ati. They stayed on the island of Panay several years ago. So if you want to be an ‘ati’ and show that you support and respect them, you can simply put charcoal in your face.

Personally, I think that others may interpret this as somehow blackface appropriation. However, locals do this to give respect to their Sto. Nino.

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

3. Dinagyang Festival

When: Fourth Sunday of February

The following month after the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan festival is the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. As you can see, we are only in the month of February but there are already three festivals!

This festival has the same purpose as the two previous festivals. It is to commemorate the feast of Sto. Nino. In addition to that, it is also a held to celebrate the time when the Aetas sold the island of Panay to the Malays.

The Dinagyang festival is also a huge festival. Thousand of people gather on the day to celebrate such a special day. Also, there are processions, parades, and competitions to showcase what the town has to offer.

4. Panagbenga Festival

A lot of Filipinos say that this is their most favorite festival in the Philippines. Actually there is a good reason why.

The Panagbenge festival in Lucban, Quezon is also called as the “flower festival”. Also, this is not your typical festival where you will see life-sized dolls, street foods, parades, beauty competitions, etc. It is because the reason behind the flower festival is not to give honor to Sto. Nino. In fact, it is cultural.

Aside from that, unlike the previously mentioned festival that only lasts for a day or two, this festival lasts for a whole month! Yes, you read that right. Which is why it takes a lot of months just for the preparation of the festival.

Luzon experienced a deadly earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 in the year 1990. Several establishments were reduced to rubble and the number of deaths was devastating.

Panagbenga festival was celebrated yearly to symbolize the city’s growth from this disastrous event, as well as a tribute to the blossoming flowers during February in the place. Instead of the regular street parade, locals accessorize their houses with fruits, vegetables, symbolic thigns, agricultural items, and others.

Top 5 Famous Festivals in the Philippines You Should See

5. Flores de Mayo

When: Whole Month of May

The Flores de Mayo or the “Flowers of May” is held in the whole country for the month of May just like the Panagbenga Festival.

It is held yearly as a devotion to the Holy Virgin Mary. Also, it includes different beauty pageants. On the last day of the month, Santacruzan is held. There are few women who are chosen to wear ball-gowns and spectacular dresses on the parade.

Above each woman is an embellished arc transported by two people on each side of her. If the individual is superb enough, instead of an arc, she can be carried on afloat. Even people living in the US celebrate Santacruzan. It is somehow similar to a prom but it is held in May!


Included in this article are only a few of the most popular festivals in the Philippines. So it is just the tip of the iceberg. The country has plenty of enjoyable festivities to offer to both local and international tourists. Everyone must experience these festivals as it showcases the lavish Filipino culture.

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