Santo Nino Fiestas | Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang
Every January, Santo Nino fiestas mostly fill the list of festivals in the Philippines. It opens the country’s a million-and-one fiestas happening everyday from the farthest north to the deepest south.
But three of the biggest celebrations happen in the Visayas region: Cebu, Kalibo & Iloilo.
Cebu City hosts the Sinulog Festival, touted as one, if not the grandest festivals in the country. In Panay Island, Kalibo City is home to the world-famous Ati-Atihan. While on the other side of it is Iloilo City, where the magic of the Dinagyang happens.
So which among the Santo Nino fiestas is best to go?
With each one happening a week apart, choosing which festival to pick can be tedious especially when you don’t have the luxury of time. But if you have what it takes to experience it all in one go, prepare for an overload of fun!
Here are insights about these Santo Nino fiestas to help you decide which destination to book. And if it’s not too much of a steal, we also included the right catchword for each festival. For more information, kindly check out the links too.
SINULOG FESTIVAL: PIT SEÑOR!
Undeniably, everyone looks up to Sinulog in Cebu City when you talk about festivals. It is so big that its name, music & movements, even its costumery are copied by many. In fact, Sinulog has become synonymous to the word “festival”.
The street dancing, procession & the fluvial parade are among the most anticipated events. For first-timers, it can surely be an overwhelming experience. So make sure you know where to go because too many events happen during the festival season.
Okay, the truth is, many partyphiles flock to Cebu City for its sure-slug & maddening parties! It happens every day, in every possible venue drowning everyone in booze & unforgettable fun.
Tip: If you think you can handle the crowd, this one’s for you.
ATI-ATIHAN FESTIVAL: HALA BIRA!
Running for more than 800 years, Ati-Atihan Festival is the Mother of All Philippine Festivals. It’s the oldest festival & remains one the best celebrations across the archipelago drawing massive devotees each year.
Unlike other Santo Nino fiestas, Ati-Atihan’s mardi gras enjoins everyone in the street dancing. Seemingly, there’s neither a beginning nor an end — everyone just goes with flow. There are no locals or tourists, no strangers — everyone is welcome to dance. This makes the Ati-Atihan beautifully unique & a heartily inclusive experience.
There are many parties too. Since the town is small, you can easily hop from one venue to the next. Sadly, hotels rates in Kalibo also skyrocket during this season. And you need to buy a 3-night promo —take it or leave it.
Tip: if you’re a newbie to the Santo Nino fiesta scene, choose this first.
DINAGYANG FESTIVAL: VIVA SEÑOR!
Absolutely, nothing comes close to the spectacle of Dinagyang Festival. The movements, music, costumes & all other elements of production design are excellent. Their dancers are just so breathtaking that you don’t even want to blink during their performance.
Parties happen here-and-there too. In fact, the Ilonggos really know how to do it in style. Dinagyang is wonderfully not too overwhelming, giving you the pace & grace to enjoy the moment.
However, among all the Santo Nino fiestas, this one the most spectactor-only experience. All you need to do is to sit and watch like in a movie. And you have to buy your seat! Otherwise you won’t see any of the dancing because they do not dance outside the designated performance areas.
Although it looks very organized, it surely feels so “sanitized” slightly missing on that euphoric feeling of being in a casually cool festival.
Tip: If you like top-of-the-line show, come to Dinagyang.