There’s a certain magical feeling that comes as the season of Christmas in the Philippines fast approaches. Everyone is looking forward to the season mainly because of the number of non-working holidays, gift-giving sessions, parties, and get-togethers.
Every year, people are excited to reunite and enjoy the company of their loved ones, and parties, events, and social gatherings get bigger and brighter.
Although you can opt to celebrate in unlikely Christmas destinations, Christmas in the Philippines isn’t complete with the colorful and notable events happening around the city and country. Check out some of the most noteworthy Christmas events and traditions happening this December near and around the metro.
1. Ayala Triangle Lights & Sounds Show
Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder via Pexels
Held every year at Ayala Triangle Gardens, in the heart of Makati City, the Lights & Sounds spectacle has become a staple event and is one of the most attended events during the Christmas season. With its magical and musical feel, this event is definitely a feast for the eyes and definitely a show fit for your coworkers, significant others, families, and friends. It runs every day from 6 pm to 10 pm.
Apart from this annual light show initiative of Ayala, they also showcase another visual exhibit called Carol of Lights which would be projected on the Tower One and Exchange Plaza dome. Underneath the dome projects 3D photos of the Vatican Church ceilings, which is truly a visually appealing experience worth visiting! The show runs every 30 minutes from 8 pm-10 pm at Ayala Triangle Gardens.
2. Giant Lantern Festival
If you want to see something truly festive while adding a little bit of adventure, how about heading out of town to San Fernando, Pampanga? This place is known as the Christmas capital of the Philippines with its annual Giant Lantern Festival which runs from December 14 to January 3 of the following year.
What started as a religious tradition became an annual competition that showcases the creativity of each town. The competition features a display of beautiful giant parols that light up at night. Christmas lanterns in the Philippines known as parols are a Christmas staple that is usually displayed outside houses.
Plan a trip to see these colorful stars with the whole family or maybe a road trip to Pampanga with your friends. It would be great if you could spend the night there to see the lanterns shine bright at night.
3. UP Lantern Parade
Photo courtesy of Min An via Pexels
If you want to witness a lantern parade nearby, you’re in luck because this one is also held in Metro Manila. The University of the Philippines in Diliman will hold its annual Lantern Parade on December 13, 2019. What some of the outsiders don’t know is that the Lantern Parade is a graded project of the students. Each college prepares afloat and lanterns in line with the theme. Although it is a school project, the event is able to showcase the ingenuity and creativity of the “Iskolars ng Bayan.” It has also been one of the highlighted events of the University of the Philippines.
The parade starts at the University Avenue then goes around the Academic Oval and ends at the UP Amphitheater. After the parade, there’s a small ceremony and a couple of performances then comes the awarding ceremony where they announce the winners with the best float.
This event is free and it is perfect if you live in Quezon City especially near the Diliman area. People flock to this event to marvel at floats of various designs and the messages students are sending through their float.
4. World Bazaar Festival
If you still haven’t decided on what you are giving to your friends and family this Christmas then maybe this event is for you. Happening on December 14 to 23 is the World Bazaar Festival, which would take place at The World Trade Center in Pasay, Metro Manila.
This is the “longest-running annual charity bazaar in the Philippines.” It houses a huge selection of shopping finds fit for those with varying budgets and those who are in the mood for some last-minute gift shopping. Truly a sight to behold as the number of booth consignees grows each year.
A good tip is to bring a giant empty tote bag to help you carry all your shopping items. The World Trade Center is a big venue so be prepared for a lot of walking. Expect that these bazaars are packed so it is important to plan ahead in terms of how you will get to the venue. If you won’t be commuting, it is best to strategize ahead of time in terms of parking so that you could make the most out of your time at the World Bazaar Festival.
5. Noel Bazaar
Another great bazaar happening in Metro Manila would be the Noel Bazaar. This annual bazaar takes place in three different venues but the one that’s about to happen would be at the SMX Convention Center on December 19 to 22, 2019.
If you haven’t gotten that the perfect gift for your beach-head friends and family members then have no fear. If your budget is a bit looser then this bazaar is fit for you as it offers premium items. It has more than 500 booths that sell various products related to home decor, furnishings, skincare, cosmetics, clothes, and other novelty items. The bazaar even has media partners so expect to see some celebrity sightings while shopping.
Just like the World Bazaar Festival, the place will be packed so its best to assess how you will get there. Also, wear comfortable clothes and shoes as you will literally “Shop ‘til you drop!”
6. Simbang Gabi
Photo courtesy of Walter Chávez via Unsplash
A Filipino Christmas tradition starting from December 16, this activity started during the Spanish Era. The origin of Simbang Gabi started as a compromise between Spanish priests and Filipino farmworkers. Usually, masses are done at the end of the day, but the priests found that the workers would still attend the mass while battling fatigue and exhaustion from the long day’s work. They decided to have the mass early in the morning before work. After mass, the workers would gather to eat together at the plaza.
In the modern-day Philippines, Simbang Gabi is a nine-day pre-dawn Mass leading up to Christmas. Rumor has it that if you complete all the nine-day mass celebration you are given one wish and it will be granted by the end of the year.
7. Field of Lights
If you are a fan of colorful installations, then take a road trip to Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where you can take snapshots of dandelion-like stems that change in different colors. The light show installation runs every 30 minutes from 6 pm until 10 pm and will be viewable until January 13.
One of the main attractions of the light installation is the tunnel filled with glittering lights where you can take dreamy photos for that magical Christmas feel. If you happen to be there on a weekend, you can also catch the first interactive water show in the Philippines that is also happening around the area. It’s also a 30-minute show that starts from 6 pm to 9 pm.
8. Christmas Village
Photo courtesy of Winston Chen via Unsplash
If you want to experience the Christmas breeze, head over to Baguio City and be sure to visit the Christmas Village at the Baguio Country Club. The Christmas Village is one of the main attractions in Baguio this holiday season. It runs from October 23 to January 5. The event is open daily from 2 pm until 10 pm every Monday through Thursday, and 10 am to 11 pm from Friday through Sunday, and it’s open even during the holidays.
This year, the Christmas village features a fantasy-themed attraction. If you’re a fan of superhero movies then this is definitely a must-see. Visitors of different ages will get to enjoy the whole Christmas village attraction. This event is perfect for family outings. One tip is to bring a power bank so that your phones won’t die and you’ll have more opportunities to take pictures.
Overall, these popular Filipino Christmas events are a true testament to how Filipinos enjoy the Christmas season and are definitely something worth visiting with your loved ones to create special memories this season.
If you are not keen to attend such events, go for the unconventional and have a Boracay staycation. This is perfect for families who are always on-the-go and who just want to enjoy the vacation. Book at Alta Vista de Boracay for holiday cheer while providing you a good staycation experience.
Wherever, you choose to celebrate this season, choose to spend it with the people you love the most. Happy holidays!