The Philippines is renowned for its vibrant and colorful festivals, each reflecting the rich cultural heritage and traditions of various regions.
To make your vacation exciting, fund and extra-memorable, here are the list of Philippine festivals. I’ve included events from Luzon to Mindanao so there’s an event you can join at any time of the year.
Philippines is composed of three major Islands, the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. We commonly called it, Luzviminda. lets start the list of festivals from Luzon.
Festivals in the Island of Luzon:
1. Panagbenga Festival (Baguio City)
The Panagbenga Festival, an annual floral extravaganza in Baguio City during February, coincides with the peak bloom of vibrant flowers. Recognized as “Pista ng mga Bulaklak ng Baguio” in Tagalog, it symbolizes an abundance of beautifully-colored flowers. In Kankanaey, it denotes the season of blooming, reflecting the spirit and values of the Cordillera highlands. The festival serves as a testament to Dangwa’s most exquisite flowers thriving in Baguio’s cool fog, making it an ideal retirement destination in the Philippines.
Originally named the ‘Baguio Flower Festival’ in 1995, it was rebranded as ‘Panagbenga’ in 1997. A highlight is the Grand Street Parade, where locals and revelers don vibrant costumes and traditional tribal attire. The Street Dancing and Grand Float Parade, usually held on the last weekend of February, generate excitement. Since 1995, Panagbenga has paid homage to Baguio’s renowned flowers, celebrating its resurgence as a premier tourist destination post the 1990 earthquake.
Panagbenga Festival 2019 / Video credit: Baguio City Guide
Featuring the Bendian dance, an Ibaloi celebration, showcased during the parade. Villagers circle and dance around the ulul leader, executing various arm movements. Lasting into the night, the Bendian ritual concludes with the loudest oway or war cry. This version spotlights the maiden’s role in the circle, enriching the festival’s cultural significance and contributing to Baguio’s SEO prominence as a top tourist destination in the Philippines.
2. Pahiyas Festival (Quezon City)
Town of Lucban, renowned for hosting one of the Philippines’ grandest harvest festivals on May 15, joins hands with Tayabas, Sariaya, Gumaca, Tiaong, and Lucena City to honor San Isidro Labrador, the patron of farmers. “Pahiyas,” deeply rooted in traditional thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, is a highlight among the Philippines’ best-known harvest celebrations. The term ‘pahiyas’ originates from ‘payas,’ meaning decoration. This tradition dates back to the 15th century when farmers offered their harvests at Mount Banahaw’s base. Today, they adorn homes with leaf-shaped, multicolored rice paste wafers called “Kiping,” alongside fruits and flowers.
Pahiyas Festival in 2022. / Video credit: Island Times – PH
The visual and culinary spectacle has gained national and international acclaim. Lucban’s town center serves as a permanent venue for showcasing crafts, delicacies, and special events reflecting the local lifestyle. The Pahiyas Dance features dancers joyfully passing symbolic harvests, followed by lively hand movements and footwork, exuding a sense of celebration and abundance. Experience the vibrancy of Pahiyas and the rich cultural tapestry of Lucban, a testament to the Philippines’ thriving traditions and agricultural heritage.
3. Obando Festival (Obando, Bulacan)
In the coastal town of Obando, renowned for its unique fertility dance, the San Pascual Baylon Church hosts an annual feast from May 17-19. This extraordinary celebration, drawing attendees nationwide, intertwines Masses, vibrant street processions, and fervent devotions. The focal point is the fertility dance, a distinctive form of prayer believed to aid couples in conceiving.
Couples from across the country visit Obando, inspired by stories of those who, after years of struggle, found success in having children following participation in the feast’s rituals. Seeking similar blessings or fulfilling vows made in gratitude for children believed to be born through the intercession, couples join the festivities with hope and anticipation.
The fertility dance, a Christianized adaptation of the pre-Christian kasilonawan fertility celebration, resonates with the local tradition where babaylans (dancers) once performed as an offering to nature deities. Explore the cultural richness of Obando and partake in this unique celebration, a harmonious blend of Christian and indigenous traditions that continues to attract devotees in search of fertility blessings.
4. Bangus Festival (Dagupan City)
In the Philippines, Dagupan City, famously recognized as the “Bangus Capital,” hosts its annual Bangus Festival, spanning from April 18 to April 30. The festival, a vibrant celebration of the city’s primary industry, the bangus or milkfish, encompasses a myriad of activities, including bangus cuisine, street dancing, Bangus grill, deboning demonstrations, day and night variety shows, trade fairs, beauty contests, sports festivals, cookfest, medical missions, visual arts, band concerts, sports activities, dog shows, fluvial parades, drum and lyre parades, and street parties.
From deboning competitions to gastronomic delights, the festival showcases various records, from the longest to the heaviest bangus, and even the most aesthetically pleasing. “Gilon gilon ed Dalan,” translating to “catching fish,” headlines the festival with a lively and colorful street dancing competition. Rooted in a tradition of giving thanks for the previous year’s abundant fish harvest, each dance group’s choreography, costumes, props, and movements are centered around the theme of catching Bangus or milkfish in the streets. Accompanied by energetic drum and trumpet bands, these performances highlight elements like “pansilew” (lighting), “tabiog” (splashing), “depak” (stomping of feet), “kewet” (bending of hands), “kemel” (catching fish by the hands), and “sitsit” (catching leftover assorted fish from almost dry fishponds). Immerse yourself in the lively festivities of the Bangus Festival, a cultural extravaganza celebrating Dagupan City’s rich heritage in the bangus industry.
5. Bacao Festival (Isabela Province)
The Bacao Festival, an annual corn celebration in Echague Isabela, known as the Queen Town of the Isabela region, is a week-long extravaganza. Rooted in Yogad origin and emphasizing the significance of “corn,” the festival takes place in March (from the 15th to the 19th), coinciding with the corn harvesting season in the region. This vibrant event pays homage to the town’s corn industry and expresses gratitude for a bountiful harvest.
The festival features creatively adorned banners incorporating various parts of the corn plant, such as corn and corn leaves. Additionally, street dancing takes center stage, with dancers donning corn-inspired costumes representing different institutions under the governance of Echague. Beyond its economic impact on tourism, the Bacao Festival plays a crucial role in educating the younger generation about the importance of the Bayanihan tradition in Filipino culture. Moreover, it raises awareness globally about the existence of Yodag-speaking people. Immerse yourself in the cultural richness of the Bacao Festival, celebrating the essence of Echague’s corn heritage and fostering a deeper understanding of Filipino traditions.
6. The Bambanti Festival
The Bambanti Festival, derived from the Ilocano word for scarecrow, originated in 1997 under the leadership of Benjamin Dy, commemorating the founding of Isabela. Scarecrows, symbolic of Isabela’s agricultural prominence, serve as makeshift deterrents against birds in fields. Isabela, a leading producer of corn, rice, and mung beans, even secured a Guinness World Record in 2019 for the largest assembly of people dressed as scarecrows.
Initially held in May but later rescheduled to January under Faustino G. Dy III, the festival showcases Isabela’s rich agricultural heritage and favorable weather conditions. Join the festivities and witness the scarecrow’s significance in the Pahoy-Pahoy Festival of Calbiga, Samar.
7. Giant Lantern Festival – Christmas lantern competition
The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual festival held in mid-December in the City of San Fernando in the Philippines. The festival features a competition of giant parol lanterns. Because of the popularity of the festival, the city has been nicknamed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.
8. Higantes Festival – a parade of paper mache giants
On the 23rd of November each year, Angono, Rizal comes alive with a unique celebration.
Dating back to the Spanish era, locals initiated this festival as a satirical gesture against hacienderos (landlords) who restricted them from celebrating multiple festivals. The higantes, giant effigies shaped like these landlords with authoritative poses, became a symbolic representation.
Another focal point of the festival is the basaan, where participants engage in a water-dousing procession. This tradition pays homage to Saint Clement, the patron saint of fishermen.
9. Moriones Festival – lenten festival inspired by the Passion of Christ
In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, numerous festivals are rooted in Catholic traditions. However, these vibrant events are not exclusive to Catholic tourists and warmly welcome visitors of all faiths.
A notable religious festival is Moriones in Marinduque, celebrated during Holy Week and inspired by the Passion of Christ. Participants don costumes resembling Imperial Roman soldiers from the Bible, embarking on a procession from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday. The quest revolves around Longinus, a Roman soldier converted to Christianity after Christ healed him from blindness.
For the daring, witnessing the Via Crucis, a Lenten practice observed in various regions, is an option. This intense devotion involves men whipping themselves, bearing heavy crosses, and, in some instances, undergoing crucifixion as an expression of profound religious commitment.
10. Pagoda sa Wawa Festival
Festivals are synonymous with celebration, and in Bocaue, Bulacan, the Pagoda sa Wawa seamlessly combines both festivities and feasts.
Held annually in July, this river festival unfolds with the release of a barge adorned with a grand float along the Bocaue River. As the float glides down the river, it transforms into a vibrant celebration where numerous individuals, potentially hundreds, indulge in delectable food and groove to fantastic music. The floating feast holds significance as it commemorates Wawa’s Holy Cross, initially discovered drifting along the Bocaue River.
Why should you be there? It’s a chance to partake in a unique river feast. Following a tragic incident that claimed numerous lives a few years ago, the Wawa festival has undergone meticulous scrutiny to ensure the safety of future pagoda riders.