Super friendly locals, amazing eats, and a host of lively festivals are just a few of the many delights that await in the Philippines!
Indeed, Filipino festivals offer locals a chance to pay their respects to their patron saints while displaying their rich culture and history. While the Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia, the culture includes a blend of traditional Spanish-Catholic, Filipino, and Asian traditions.
It should therefore come as no surprise that such a diverse culture is home to lavish festivals, with some events spanning across an entire month!
And if you ask me, there’s nothing quite like attending a local event to completely immerse yourself in a country’s customs and traditions. If you’re there for a quick break or planning a more extended stay, here are some of the most important festivals of the Philippines that you can check out during your trip.
Festivals in the Philippines
Filipino fiestas are grand, colorful, and super lively!
This list will take you through the most important events in the Philippines, from rave parties to cultural ceremonies and even religious festivals filled with pomp, splendor, and ancient history.
- When: January
- Where: Iloilo City
Both a religious and cultural festival, Dinagyang takes street parties to a whole new level! To commemorate this festival, the people of Iloilo City all spill into the street in a colorful display of dancing and singing.
Don’t hesitate to bust a move since tourists are encouraged to join in the dancing and cheering!
Celebrated on the last Sunday of January, the Dinagyang Festival attracts over a million locals and tourists yearly. No wonder it’s often referred to as the ‘Queen of All Philippine Festivals!’
This festival traces its origins back to the 1960s when the San Jose Parish Priest started worshipping Santo Niño in the parish, a practice that gradually steeped through the rest of the city.
With street parties on every corner, Iloilo City is overflowing with various drinks and local delicacies that you can munch on while soaking up the lively vibe. Keep your eyes peeled for the street dancing contests that are often organized by various Filipino schools.
In addition to the parties, the festival also hosts friendly competitions such as Miss Iloilo Dinagyang and the Ati Tribe Competition. Plenty of concerts and shows are organized during Dinagyang, with tickets ranging from $25 to $37.
Where to Stay:
Ah, that glorious feeling of retreating to air-conditioned comfort where a cozy bed awaits! That’s precisely what Tely’s Bed & Breakfast offers. You’ll even be treated to a complimentary breakfast in the morning.
Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
- When: February
- Where: Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
Are you looking for fun festivals in the Philippines? I bet you are!
Well, be sure to check out the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which usually takes place in the second week of February.
Because it’s the country’s longest-running and biggest aviation sport, this event draws over 300 balloon pilots from various countries. Contrary to popular belief, the festival isn’t just about hot air balloons: you can also expect helicopter exhibitions, freestyle aerobatics, flag jumps, choreographed kite flying, and even skydiving, among a host of other thrilling activities!
Owing to its popularity, I would recommend that you get your tickets well in advance. Economy tickets cost $8.50 per person/day, and business tickets will set you back $60. If you want to go all out, you can always grab a first-class ticket with priority entry for $110. This includes access to a designated parking spot, an air-conditioned lounge, afternoon High Tea and breakfast, and lunch buffets.
With a first-class ticket, you’ll also be treated to a prime viewing spot in the Balloon Launch Zone as well as access to a private viewing deck.
Where to Stay:
If you’re traveling on a budget, fret not: this super affordable townhouse offers all the comforts of home, including a modern, well-equipped kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms in Clark.
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Wanderland Music and Arts Festival
- When: March
- Where: Manila
I sure hope you’re ready to party because this annual outdoor event is hailed as the ‘Coachella of the Philippines!’
One of the best-known events in the country, the Wanderland Music and Arts Festival puts the spotlight on the best local and international performers. In fact, this event is said to be one of the most popular music festivals in the Philippines – and for good reason! Not only will you get to dance to live performances, but the whole venue morphs into a mini carnival, complete with stalls offering drinks and local delicacies.
This festival gathered quite a massive social media following over the past few years, with fans dubbing themselves ‘Wanderers’.
Along with a host of vibrant performances, Wanderland also showcases Filipino artwork through exhibitions, installations, and even workshops. Festivalgoers can watch the artists in full action in the live art corner. If you want to unleash your creative side, you can get hands-on at the art jamming walls.
Entry tickets cost around $118 for a regular two-day pass and $203 for a premium one.
Where to Stay:
Manila has no shortage of great places to crash for the night, but I can totally vouch for Ola! Hostel. With comfortable dormitories, this hostel also boasts private rooms for budget travelers who want their personal space!
Chroma Music Festival
- When: April
- Where: Metro Manilla
A one-day show filled with an eclectic medley of genres from both local and international EDM artists, the Chroma Music Festival takes place in April.
Described as the most spectacular color music festival, Chroma is primarily known for its captivating visuals. Along with some pretty intense performances, the festival offers plenty of good food and drinks, including local specialties.
What makes this event unique is that festival goers will get to sway to live performances whilst getting blasted by flying colors and paint – so leave your fineries behind and dress down in outfits that you don’t mind wrecking because it’s going to be an absolute color fest!
Regular tickets cost $20 per person, and these include a free drink, access to side activities, and one bag of colored powder. For $25, you can snag a VIP ticket offering 2 bags of powder, access to side activities, two premium drinks, and 1 Chroma souvenir shirt.
A quick heads-up though, this is easily one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines that draws loads of locals, ex-pats, and tourists from all over. Finding last-minute accommodation when visiting Manilla can be tricky. As such, we would absolutely recommend that you book a place well in advance to benefit from the best deals.
Where to Stay:
Backpacking through the Philippines and wondering where to drop anchor for the night? Check out Lourdes Inn, offering daily complimentary Asian breakfast and comfortable, air-conditioned rooms with seating areas.
Flores De Mayo
- When: May
- Where: All over the country
If you’re going to be in the Philippines in May, chances are you’ll see quite a few street processions all over the country. This is because the month of May is usually dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
During Flores de Mayo (Spanish for ‘Flowers of May’), locals also honor Constantine the Great and Helena of Constantinople.
While this event is usually celebrated with great pomp, there’s also plenty of emphasis on the religious aspect of the festival. Locals typically start by reciting the rosary, and the last day of the festival is marked by a procession of the Virgin Mary after mass.
During the ceremony, the Litany of Loreto and the Salve Regina are recited in Spanish whilst local cakes are distributed to the children. After the service, everyone takes a final walk around town with bands playing religious music.
During the month of May, locals also offer daily flowers to their respective churches as a tribute to the Virgin Mary.
The highlight of Flores de Mayo is undoubtedly the Santacruzan ceremony. This refers to a historic beauty pageant dedicated to the discovery of the Holy Cross by Saint Helena and Constantine.
Where to Stay:
In my opinion, one of the best places to celebrate Flores de Mayo is in Bulacan. This light and airy hotel has just about everything you need for a comfy stay, including a pool and a restaurant.
- When: May
- Where: Lucban, Quezon
If you’re going to be in the country on May 15th, be sure to head over to Lucban where you can attend Pahiyas – one of the most colorful Philippine festivals!
Dedicated to San Isidro de Labrador, the Patron Saint of Farmers, this festival is held to honor the land and give thanks for agricultural harvests. It’s safe to say that you can expect plenty of scrumptious food!
And it’s not just about eating either: locals decorate their homes in fresh and colorful produce like fruits, vegetables, and brightly colored Kipings, which are leaf-shaped wafers made from glutinous rice. Some decorations even consist of the Longganisa, a pork-based product that’s especially popular in Lucban.
Over 100,000 tourists attended the festivities in 2022, making it one of the biggest events in the Philippines. Along with the striking decorations, this festival is known for its traditional dance and agricultural trade fairs. Keep your eyes peeled for the early-morning processions dedicated to San Isidro Labrador.
Locals dress up in brightly-hued costumes during this procession. Cakes and various other local delicacies are distributed for free.
Where to Stay:
Families and friends may wish to check out this cozy two-bedroom apartment that easily sleeps 6. It comes with all the comforts of home, including a well-equipped kitchen and living room with a Smart TV.
- When: June
- Where: Batangas
Vegetarians, look away now!
It won’t take you long to realize that Lechon (pork roasted in different spices) has a massive fan base in the Philippines – so much so that a whole festival is dedicated to this local delicacy.
Various Filipino cities celebrate this festival, but Batangas takes the cake for honoring this dish! Coinciding with the St. John the Baptist Feast, the Lechon Festival sees a parade of roasted pork on a spit being carried to church. There’s a church service in honor of St. John, and then the crowd spills out into the street for a mass party during which people douse each other in water.
And yes – tourists are also targeted, so be on the lookout for anyone heading toward you holding a bucket! Be sure to stow your devices in waterproof bags and bring a poncho. Of course, it’s all done in good fun. During the dousing portion of the festival, the Lechon is covered in funny costumes to prevent them from getting all soggy.
This event ends with everyone finally digging into the Lechon. Because this is one of the most exhilarating Philippine festivals, locals pour in from all over the country, but rest assured that there’s always plenty of Lechon for everyone!
Where to Stay:
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Sinadya Sa Halaran
- When: December
- Where: Province of Capiz and Roxas City
Celebrated in December, Sinadya Sa Halaran joins what used to be two separate festivals: the Province of Capiz’s Sinadya and the city of Roxas’ Halaran. Over time, however, these two festivals merged to become one of the country’s most celebrated social and religious events.
Celebrated in honor of the Feast of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, Sinadya Sa Halaran spans over five days.
This festival starts with a church service followed by the official opening ceremony, complete with flag-raising.
One of this festival’s highlights is undoubtedly the Fluvial Parade which is quite a sight to behold with boats decked in twinkling fairy lights. During this procession, devotees release river floaters and candles into the water to express their devotion to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
Seafood is also celebrated during Sinadya Sa Halaran, with freshly prepared snacks and meals served on just about every corner. Like most festivals in the Philippines, this event is also marked by spontaneous street dancing and if you’d like to show off your moves, rest assured that tourists are always encouraged to join in.
At the end of the day, Sinadya Sa Halaran is concluded with a dazzling display of fireworks.
Where to Stay:
After a day of fun, you can retreat to Mecaja Beach House, a charming property with complimentary breakfast, on-site restaurant, airport shuttle, and bar. Family rooms are also available.
Giant Lantern Festival
- When: December
- Where: San Fernando, Pampanga
If you’re wondering why the city of San Fernando is known as the country’s Christmas Capital, that’s because it plays host to one of the most important festivals of the Philippines each year.
The Giant Lantern Festival is usually held from December 17th to January 2nd, so you can always check it out after the New Year’s festivities if you want to avoid the crowds.
One of the main activities is a giant lantern contest – something that’s steeped in local history. Indeed, lanterns (and light in general) are essential for Filipinos since they usually represent unflinching hope. Over the years, they’ve also become synonymous with Christmas and the festive season in general.
Made from paper attached to bamboo frames with thick rice paste, traditional lanterns sport various designs with prizes awarded to the most original ones. You’ll also see modern electric lanterns crafted by local engineers.
This festival originates from ‘Lubenas’, a religious activity during which locals would make smaller lanterns to bring to the town church on Christmas Eve. Over time, the lanterns became bigger and more majestic, but their message of hope and light still lives on today.
Where to Stay:
Here’s a gorgeous condo that ticks all the boxes! Not only is this affordable place fitted with a bedroom for two, but guests can also take advantage of the private kitchenette and shared swimming pool.
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What To Pack For Your Philippines Trip
Packing for the Philippines is kinda easy. If were you I’d prepare for any situation with these extra essentials.
Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
Sea To Summit Micro Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
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Grayl Geopress Water Bottle
Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
The Philippines is not the safest place in the world. Get some good travel insurance and stay prepared.
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Final Thoughts on Festivals in the Philippines
With street dances, electrifying music festivals, and colorful costumes, Filipino events often see travelers flying in from all over to join the festivities. The good news is that the locals are super welcoming and eager to share their rich culture with tourists.
Whether you would like to check out a music gathering with paintballs flying in all directions, attend parades and pageants, or tuck into a massive feast right on the street, the country has plenty of choices for travelers who want to experience the top festivals in the Philippines!
For me, the Giant Lantern Festival is one of the country’s most dazzling (not to mention historically significant) events. The whole month of December is permeated by good-humored competition as everyone works on their lantern, displaying stunning craftsmanship and endless engineering possibilities.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!