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Sinulog Festival | © George Parilla / Flickr
Sinulog Festival | © George Parilla / Flickr

Top Things to See and Do During Sinulog, Philippines

Picture of Ronica Valdeavilla
Updated: 12 January 2018

Held on the third Sunday of January every year, the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City is a must-see festival. Each year, at least three million devotees and revelers head to the Queen City of the South to don their Sinulog hats, put on face paints, watch the parade, and wear colorful shirts – all part of experiencing the grand celebration in honor of the Santo Niño, or the Child Jesus. Here are the top things to see and do during the Sinulog Festival of the Philippines.

Join the Fluvial Parade and Solemn Procession

Usually held a day before the Sinulog Grand Parade, thousands of devotees participate in the Fluvial Parade and Solemn Procession of the image of Santo Niño. The Fluvial Parade starts at 6 am, whereas the Solemn Procession happens in the afternoon, around 2. It’s usually followed by the “kaplag”, where students, actors, and actresses re-enact the Baptism of Queen Juana and Rajah Humabon as Catholics, including the moment when Magellan gave the image of the Santo Niño as a baptismal gift to the Queen.

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Sinulog Fluvial Parade | © dbgg1979 / Flickr

Take a tour around Cebu

Arriving a day before the Grand Parade is a must for visitors. This gives you the chance to take a tour, a day trip or even visit one of the beaches in the island of Cebu. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Magellan’s Cross, Lapu-Lapu Shrine, and the Basilica Minor Del Santo Niño.

If you’re more of an adventure-seeker, take a trip to one of Cebu’s spectacular beaches, such as the Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island, and Oslob.

Magellan’s Cross, Cebu City

Lapu-Lapu Shrine, Cebu City

Basilica Minor Del Santo Niño

Go on a food trip

No festival is complete without filling your tummy! And the best way to enjoy a place is to immerse yourself in its cuisine. First-time visitors should definitely try the Puso, or hanging rice (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves), which is found in almost all food stalls in the city. Of course, the world famous Cebu Lechon (roasted pig) shouldn’t be missed.

Watch the Grand Parade kick-off and finale

The Sinulog Grand Parade starts as early as 8:30 in the morning, shortly after the Mañanita and Pontifical mass at the Basilica Minor Del Santo Niño, and the Holy Mass at the Cebu City Sports Center. This parade is one of the most grand festivities in the Philippines, as all participants showcase their graceful dance steps to their ritual dances while donning colorful and very detailed costumes. Join the fun and see the lively parade of the Cebuanos as they honor the Santo Niño. 

By 4 pm, catch the Grand Parade finale, where organizers will announce the winners of the competitions held during the festival.

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Sinulog Grand Parade | © Francisco M. Pajares Jr. / Flickr

Sinulog Festival in Cebu City Sports Center

Enjoy street parties and live bands

Cebuanos are known for their beautiful singing voices. During the Sinulog Festival there are many street parties and live concerts in the city. Cebu’s finest talents will also impress you with their amazing voices. Plus, dance music events and street parties (where locals party all night) will surely bring you epic, unforgettable moments.

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Tourists at Sinulog Festival | © Carlo Villarica / Flickr

Go for a night walk

Joining the Sinulog Festival will require you to walk most of the time, as the main streets are flooded with thousands of people at all hours of the day. Enjoy the night by walking between nearby tourist spots, offering a prayer or lighting a candle, or meeting fellow tourists along the way.

Catch the pyro spectacular shows

Complete the Sinulog experience by witnessing another highlight of the Sinulog Festival – the pyro spectacular shows! The Sinulog Fireworks Competition is held annually to cap off the Grand Parade with multi-colored pyrotechnics that leave locals and tourists in delight.

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Fireworks at SM City Cebu | © Carlo Villarica / Flickr