Dinagyang Festival (4th Sunday January)
Dinagyang means "Merry Making" and its a celebration held in honor of the Santo Niño. Dinagyang is believed to be one of the BEST Festivals in the Philippines.
Dinagyang is the best time to go to Iloilo!
Sinulog Festival (3rd Sunday January)
Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. The name pertains to the strong current movement of the Cebu River which is re-enacted in the dance.
Sinulog in Cebu is the biggest festival in the Philippines, celebrating the feast of the Child Jesus, Santo Niño de Cebú, with a dance ritual to the beat of the drums. Held every third Sunday of January, it is the largest and most attended fiesta in the country with an all-day-long parade and party.
Ati-Atihan Festival (3rd Sunday January)
Kalibo's Ati-Atihan is the mother of all the big Sto. Niño festivals of Sinulog in Cebu and Dinagyang in Iloilo. It's the biggest fiesta that is "non-commercialized" and stays true to its Filipino Fiesta vibe. It's a "participative fiesta" where you dance with the performers vs. a "spectator fiesta" where you just watch in the sidelines. They say you have not experienced a Filipino fiesta unless you've been to Ati-Atihan.
Ati-Atihan means "to become like Aetas" or in modern terms an "Ati Cosplay". It was originally a pagan animist festival that the Spaniards adapted in honor of the Sto. Niño celebrated every third sunday of January.
It started when 10 Bornean Datus escaped from the island of Borneo and migrated to the Island of Panay in the 13th century (c.1200 A.D.). They bought the Panay Island plains from the Ati's who were the original settlers in Maharlika (former name of the Philippines before the Spaniards) with gifts of golden salakot, brass basins, bales of cloth and a very long necklace for the Ati chieftain.
The Aetas celebrated the occasion with eating, dancing, and merry making that became the inspiration of what we now call as the Filipino Fiesta.
Panagbenga Festival (February)
Anagbenga is a local Kankana-ey term in Cordillera, which means “a season for blossoming or a time for blooming", coined by Ike Picpican, curator of the Saint Louis University Museum in 1997.It is a month-long celebration in February/March during the business-lean months to attract tourists to the City of Baguio after the holidays and before the peak Summer Season.It culminates with a Grand Flower Float Parade, held usually on the last Sunday of February. The Flower festival symbolizes the rise of Baguio from the city's devastating earthquake disaster on July 16, 1990.
Hot-Air Balloon Festival (February)
The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is one of the passion festivals in the country that I absolutely enjoy. It celebrates the passion for flying and highlights the love for Hot Air Balloons.
It was started after the US Military left Clark Air Base to boost tourism and the morale of the community around Clarkfield, Pampanga.
Pahiyas Festival (15th, May )
Pahiyas is one of the most awesome fiestas in the country. It falls on the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers to show gratitude for a good and abundant harvest. It is celebrated in Lucban (most popular and commercialized), Sariaya, Tayabas and other towns in Quezon.
Kadayawan Festival (August)
Kadayawan Sa Dabaw is an annual thanksgiving harvest festival in Davao. It is held every 3rd Weekend of August to celebrate the harvest of Davao's fruits, flowers, and farm produce.
Masskara Festival (October)
A Masquerade Party to lift up the spirits of the Bacolod people after the Sugar Crisis in 1980's. It's name comes from English word "mass" meaning "multitude of people", and Spanish word "kara" meaning "face".
Ligligan Parul (December)
Another awesome festival is the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando Pampanga, which is locally known as Ligligan Parul. Ivan Henares previously hosted us the first time we attended and even gave us free guest passes in the reserved seating section. Ivan has a very popular post about Pampanga's pride. He was the chairman of the Giant Lantern Festival in 2003 so he was able to give us all the juicy details about this fiesta. If you haven't seen this, this is one of those moments where you will be proud of the Filipino's creativity and hard work.