Philippine Festival Guide | January
Right after the longest celebration of Christmas in the world, Philippines immediately begins its new calendar with the feasts of the Black Nazarene & Sr. Santo Nino. They usher the beginning of nonstop fiestas across the nation through the year.
Revelries for Sr. Santo Nino usually fill the month of January, specially celebrated in the islands of Panay & Cebu.
But there are also other fiestas across the country that are worth starting your new year of journeys replete with colors, taste & beat of the Philippines.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene
Quiapo, one of Manila’s busiest commercial districts comes to an even tighter space during the feast of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. It is hailed as the biggest religious festival in the country gathering millions of devotees.
Every January 9, the miraculous Black Nazarene is paraded from his shrine in Basilica Minore de Jesus Nazareno in Quiapo. A sea of barefooted disciples, about 9 million, carries the statue in penance & prayer throughout the 7-kilometer parade route.
To know more about the Feast of the Black Nazarene, click here.
3rd Sunday of the January
Cebu City is home to the grandest celebration of the feast of Sr. Santo Nino held every 3rd Sunday of January. Sinulog, as it is popularly known is a prayer-dance ritual exalting the Child Jesus. This weeklong festivity is packed with events, the Grand Procession & Street Parade being the most anticipated galas.
The Queen City of the South also becomes the epicenter of massive merrymaking in the Philippines during the Sinulog. Maddening parties, concerts, trade fairs & shopping sprees are staged for the millions of tourists that flock to Cebu.
To know how to survive Sinulog Festival, click here.
3rd Sunday of January
Touted as the Mother of Philippine Festivals, the Ati-atihan in Kalibo is the longest running festival in the country. While it originated as a pagan celebration in the 13th century, it now honors Sr. Santo Nino.
Ati-atihan means “to look like Ati”, the dark, curly haired negritos who were the original inhabitants of the island. The parade shows the dancers painted in soot & clad in indigenous costumes that mimic the native Atis. Unique to this festival is the non-stop dancing & parades around town that last for days.
Find out more why many Philippine festivals were inspired by Ati-atihan. Click here.
4th Week of January
Just like Cebu & Kalibo, the prosperous province of Iloilo celebrates their acceptance of Christianity through the image of the Infant Jesus. In a grand mardi gras dubbed as Dinagyang, Ilonggos gather in Iloilo City to rejoice its faith & culture.
The Ilonggos are known for their artistry & grandiose pageantries. All of these come to life during the Dinagyang Festival. Most tourists make Iloilo their January-ender destination because everything here at this time is nothing short of the word spectacular.
Check out Dinagyang Festival here.
Vigan Fiesta & Longganisa Festival
Up north in the historic city of Vigan is a hodge-podge of celebrations all happening in a week of January 25. The city revels its reverence to St. Paul the Apostle & its widely adored delicacy, the longganisa. During this time, the cobblestone streets of Vigan are flooded with parading dancers, musicians, adorned calesas & huge floats.
Vigan is the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, one the strongest centers of religious powers during colonial Philippines. They are also popular for their indigenous version of Spanish sausages called longganisa.
Relive the opulence of Spanish-era Philippines. Click here to know more about Vigan Fiesta.
4th Week of January
Apribada Festival in Sorsogon celebrates the bounty of its seas with butanding or the whalesharks as its main attraction. Infused with their Bicolano traditions, street & fluvial parades are staged to express their culture & their most prized local charms.
Apribada also signals the beginning of the butanding-sighting season. These elusive marine mammals as huge as buses drive many tourists to the tip of the Bicol region in South Luzon.
Go underwater. Go large. Go to Sorsogon. Check out here for more details.
3rd Week of January
Midsayap in North Cotabato is the seat of the biggest Santo Nino fiesta in Mindanao. Unknown to many, this small town is the home of some of the country’s finest street dancers. They have won in prestigious festivals like Sinulog in Cebu & Aliwan in Manila.
4th Week of January
Pangasinan is known for it’s pretty hundred islands, the historic Mc. Arthur landing & the flavorful fish paste or bagoong. In Lingayen, Bagoong Festival is celebrated to showcase its unparalleled condiment, a favorite dipping sauce in many Filipino tables.
It also coincides with the city fiesta making it a double celebration every 4th week of January.
Truly, January kicks off the year with so many festivals to choose from. So wherever you go, there’s always a place for you shout Viva Senor, Pit Senor, Hala Bira! There’s always a party, a street parade & a grand chow time for everyone.
For more details about other festivals in January, refer here.