9 Most Crowd-Drawing Festivals in the Philippines

1 December 2022
9 Most Crowd Drawing Festivals in the Philippines

Filipinos love celebrating something, whether it's to pay tribute and respect to a patron saint, a historical commemoration, or simply showcase a town or a city's native products. Lumina Homes acknowledges this penchant for celebration among Filipinos, which is exhibited at every festival in the country, where town and city propers are expected to be adorned with colorful banderitas to manifest the ongoing celebration.


There is a festival in every nook of the country. But there are those which draw the most crowds for reasons we will explain below. Let's tour the country through its festivals and prepare to declare that it's really more fun in the Philippines.



Philippine Festivals with the Most Crowds

The plethora of colorful festivals in the Philippines consist of grand street parades with street dancers clad in bright, lively costumes, which is mostly the source of crowds who want to bear witness to the colorful display of costumes, passionate dancers, creatively crafted floats, and a loud band of musicians to add an effect to the festive atmosphere.


Below is a list of the grandest festivals in the Philippines that consequently draw the most crowds, boosting tourism and the economy at large.


Masskara Festival

First off on our list is the recently concluded Masskara Festival in the City of Smiles, Bacolod, in Negros Occidental. Celebrated month-long during October, the festival traces its history during the 80s under the Marcos dictatorship when the province suffered economically. To put back smiles on the faces of Negrenses, the MassKara Festival was born to epitomize the signature Filipino resilience in the face of hardships.


Since its inception, MassKara Festival has become a massive celebration gathering tourists for its food festivals, fantastic street dance competitions, live band music, and a lot more. This year, the month of October was filled with a series of competitions, from a pageant for Mister and Miss Bacolod, tattoo making, sports fest, the inaugural run of drag fest for car racing enthusiasts, an inter-Barangay Giant Mask contest, a digital art exhibit, a talent search, and a lot more.


MassKara Festival location: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Western Visayas


Sinulog Festival

Without a doubt, Sinulog Festival in Cebu City is a massive crowd grabber every year. The most anticipated highlight of the festival transpires on the third Sunday of January, with an iridescent display of parades and street dancers decked out in colorful attire.


It all started in 1980, with the Sinulog word meaning "graceful dance," and "sulog" meaning the "current" of a Cebu river. It has since evolved as a month-long Cebuano tradition to celebrate. During every celebration, passionately loud cheers of "Pit Señor," which is a plea to the Holy Child, would echo around the city to pay respects and tribute to the Santo Niño, a religious icon present in nearly every Filipino household in the country.


Sinulog Festival location: Cebu City, Cebu Province, Western Visayas


Dinagyang Festival

Dinagyang in Iloilo City is a twin celebration of devout religion and rich culture. Annually held and observed every fourth Sunday of January, Dinagyang Festival gathers more than a million visitors annually to bear witness to its spectacle of cultural events. Dinagyang derives from the term dágyang, which means "merrymaking." Its religious function is found through its tribute of the merrymaking to the Santo Niño, whilst its cultural connotation is the ancient pact between the datus and locals after Malay settlers arrived in the area.


Interestingly, it is also the only festival in the country to have been extolled and awarded for three consecutive years as a top tourism event by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. For these reasons, Dinagyang also earned the recognition of being the Queen of Philippine Festivals.


Dinagyang Festival location: Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Western Visayas


Kadayawan Festival

Representing the culturally rich island of Mindanao is Kidayawan in Davao City. The festival’s official name traces its origin from the Mandaya term “madayaw,” which means something valuable and treasured. This "valuable" refers to the ample harvests of the locals. In years gone by, ethnic Davao tribes would gather together to celebrate the abundance of their crops, and would then perform ethnic rituals to pay respects to the gods of nature for the bounty of crop provisions.


This thanksgiving festival of Kadayawan annually garners an influx of local and international guests for the fun-filled festivities involving a grand street parade called "Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan," which will highlight the festival as a celebration of rich cultural heritage, indigenous peoples, and the gesture of thanksgiving.


Kadayawan Festival location: Davao City, Davao Del Sur, Davao Region


Ati-Atihan Festival

Nicknamed as the “Mother of all Philippine Festivals,” Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan is world-famous and world-class that draws massive crowds. The celebration is highly anticipated for the grand display of colorful costumes and a loud, cheerful crowd that testifies to the overall culture of positivity, resilience, and hospitality of Filipinos.


Ati-Atihan is an annual Aklan festival celebrated for a week whose main highlight transpires on the third Saturday of January. Historically, it began as a pagan festival that paid respects to the anitos or deities in Philippine folk religions. Several years later, the festival became a celebration in honor of the Baby Jesus or the Santo Niño. Ati-Atihan is a showcase of tribal traditions performed through folk dances with folk dancers clad in vibrant costumes.


Ati-Atihan Festival location: Kalibo Town, Aklan Province, Western Visayas


Pahiyas Festival

While most of the crowd-drawing festivals in this list feature street dancing as festival highlights, Pahiyas Festival in Quezon province puts a premium on houses in Lucban, which are colorfully decorated with handicrafts and food items. It's a festival of food — a superb showcase of vegetables, fruits, crops, and kiping, a Filipino leaf-shaped wafer made out of glutinous rice found in the province.


Traditionally celebrated in the month of May, Pahiyas Festival is annually observed in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of the country's symbols of hard work — farmers, peasants, and laborers. The creatively designed houses are definitely perfect as a colorful backdrop in a selfie (or groufie, for that matter). What is more, residents and visitors can bring with them a basket to pick some products from the house walls. In the end, Lucban officials will adjudge which among the participants have the best houses dressed in edible decorations.


Pahiyas Festival location: Lucban City, Quezon Province, CALABARZON


Moriones Festival

The Holy Week is one of the longest legal holidays in the Philippines, which is meant to be spent in spiritual meditation. In the province of Marinduque, the Holy Week is celebrated as a lenten festival where the "Moriones" don garbs and masks replicating the Imperial Roman soldiers from the Bible. This folk-religious festival makes Marinduque a crowd-grabber during the Lenten season.


The Moriones festival showcases the story of Saint Longinus, a Roman Centurion blind in one eye and who must hide from the masked Morions. The helmet-clad Morions will then search for Longinus for the entire Holy Week and roam around the town, scaring children to draw attention. Townsfolk get to become "actors in the play," with the entire town as one massive theater venue, either to help locate Longinus or hide him in their homes.


Moriones Festival location: Mogpog, Marinduque, MIMAROPA


Panagbenga Festival

If you want to experience firsthand the cool climate in the City of Pines, arguably the best occasion to relish its weather is attending the crowd-drawing Panagbenga Festival in Baguio. It is the epitome of "crowd-drawing," with tourists from around the country and even international guests coming to the Philippines' summer capital for the Panagbenga Festival, which is translated as the "Season of Blossoming."


The flower festival is especially a crowd drawer for its float parades featuring creatively crafted floats made of flowers, street dancers decked out in radiant costumes, bazaars, trade fairs, and a series of contests that will surely entertain its influx of tourist traffic. The festival's inauguration, moreover, was done after a powerful 1990 earthquake struck Luzon. The festival then had the well-meaning attempt to lift the spirits of locals who were left devastated by the catastrophic incident.


Panagbenga Festival location: Baguio City, Benguet Province, CAR


Giant Lantern Festival

Lastly, the Giant Lantern Festival in the prosperous City of San Fernando, Pampanga province. The annual event is celebrated just in time for the most anticipated holiday of the year, which is Christmas. Nicknamed the Christmas Capital of the Philippines, the Giant Lantern Festival is a spectacular sight to behold come December, where giant parols creatively crafted by locals are magnificently displayed.


Originally, the locally known Ligligan Parul is a religious ceremony or a novena, which also coincides with the nine-day (or night) church attendance from December 16 to 24, just before the advent of Christmas Eve. The original Ligligan Parul also featured lanterns, but not as massive as it is now, and definitely gathering more crowds and tourists.


Giant Lantern Festival location: City of San Fernando, Pampanga Province, Central Luzon


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