A Guide to the Philippines’ Most Amazing Fiestas

Dinagyang in Iloilo
Dinagyang in Iloilo | © DHY27 / Flickr
Esther de la Cruz

Every town in the Philippines, no matter how big or small, holds a fiesta. Traditionally, the fiesta is a time of joyful celebration for Filipinos, who cook heaps of hearty food, throw open their doors to visitors, and parade in the streets. Some Filipino fiestas have evolved into elaborate, multi-day festivals, while others have kept their community roots. Here, we list the best fiestas across the Philippines.

Panagbenga

Panagbenga means ‘season of blooming’. This annual flower festival is held in February in the mountain-top city of Baguio, on the island of Luzon. Visitors flock to Baguio to watch the Sunday parade that works its way along Session Road. Dancers wear flower-themed costumes, and huge floats decorated with hundreds of blooms are pushed through the streets. The festival is especially significant for Baguio, as it symbolizes the city’s recovery from a devastating earthquake that took place in 1990.

Panagbenga

Sinulog

You haven’t really seen a Filipino fiesta until you’ve seen Sinulog. Held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Sinulog celebrates the Christ Child, the ‘Santo Niño’ with three days of street parades, a procession of boats on the Mactan Strait, and early morning masses in the historic Basilica del Santo Niño. From a simple street dance (the word ‘sinulog’ describes the movement of water) Cebu now takes its annual fiesta to new heights. Visitors from all over come to celebrate with the Cebuanos in all-night raves, and to watch the parades and floats as they pass through the city.

Sinulog parade

Kadayawan

One of the best Philippine fiestas for culture lovers to attend, Kadayawan showcases the gorgeous island of Mindanao. The word ‘kadayawan’ comes from ‘madayaw’, meaning ‘valuable’ or ‘beautiful’. The festival, held in the third week of August, brings together all that is beautiful in Davao City, with a week-long food fiesta, trade fairs and exhibits, ethnic dances, and a famous floral float parade. Kadayawan is the best time to see the unique tribal costumes and experience the rich culture of Mindanao.

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