Every 4th Sunday of January, right after the celebration of Sinulog Festival in Cebu and Ati-atihan Festival of Aklan, the streets of Iloilo City are filled with colorful décor, joyous music and exhilarating dances. This marks the beginning of Dinagyang Festival, celebrated to honor the Santo Niño and commemorate the arrival of the Malays in Panay and the sale of the island to the settlers by the Aetas.
Dinagyang began in 1968 as feast to honor Santo Niño, it was only celebrated within the parish at first, but it was adopted and grew to what we know as one of the most beautiful festivals in the Philippines today. It was voted as the Best Tourism Event for 2006 to 2008 and one of the few festivals supported by the United Nations for its promotion of the Millennium Development Goals.
Although it was patterned to Ati-Atihan of Aklan, Dinagyang has a unique rhythm and beat. The performances showcase the lives of the native Ati people – alive and colorful portrayal of their rich history and culture.
- With a celebration as grand as Dinagyang, it is expected that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands will pour into the city. Accommodation is expected to be higher than usual during this peak period so it is advisable to book your hotel earlier. The same applies to your flight booking if coming outside of Iloilo.
- There are a lot of great hotels around Iloilo, but we all want to stay somewhere near all the action, but not too near that we will find ourselves stuck in the wave of people.
- Bring only the essentials especially to parades and events with expectedly huge audience to avoid any inconvenience.
What to Wear
“Let’s party, right here and now!” is the trend in Dinagyang. You are expected to walk, run, strut, hop, and dance so make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. You can smear some body paint in your face/body to fully get in to the festive vibe.
Other things to do in Iloilo City/Iloilo Province
Never leave Iloilo City without trying a bowl of their famous La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo at the La Paz Market. Savor fresh seafood delicacies in eateries that you can literally find anywhere in especially in coastal towns.
Go church hopping in their century-old churches, including the Jaro Cathedral, San Joaquin Church, or at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Miagao Church.
If you have more time and want more adventure, you can go island hopping to their beautiful islands with coastlines that could rival the white sand beach of Boracay. The Antonia Beach and Gabugaw Gamay Island in Gigantes Group of Islands are among the best you could visit.
Calendar of Activities and Events
The main events of the Festival runs from January 25 to 27, 2018.
January 25, 2019 (Friday)
8:00 AM – Tambor, Trumpa, Martsa, Musika
3:00 PM – Fluvial and Solemn Foot Procession
9:00 PM – Luces in the Sky (Fireworks Display)
January 26, 2019 (Saturday)
8:00 AM – Fiesta Pilipinas (Kasadyahan Cultural Competition)
2:00 PM – Sponsors Mardi Gras Parade
6:00 PM – Floats Parade of Lights
7:00 PM – Grand Religious Sadsad
9:00 PM – Glitters in the Sky (Fireworks Display)
January 27, 2019 (Sunday)
6:00 AM – Concelebrated High Mass
8:00 AM – Dinagyang Tribes Competition
Schedule above is subject to change without prior notice. Check Dinagyang Festival's FB Page for recent Dinagyang Festival news and updates.
How to Get There
Whether you come from Luzon or other provinces of Visayas or Mindanao, the easiest way to get to Iloilo City is by plane.
Take an airplane ride going to Iloilo City. All local airlines has direct flight from Manila to Iloilo City. Iloilo is part of Panay Island. Aside from Iloilo City International Airport, Panay Island has 2 other airports namely – Caticlan and Roxas airports.
Other option, if you come from Luzon you can even go by land (and sea) via RORO buses from Metro Manila to Iloilo City through Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro Oriental-Panay Island nautical highway.
From Visayas provinces/islands
If there are no planes directly going to Iloilo City from where you are, you can travel to Cebu. From Cebu, you can choose to travel by air or sea going to Iloilo City.
Bacolod City (Negros Occidental) is very close to Iloilo. Just ride in a fastcraft or RORO ship from Bacolod Port going to Iloilo City - more or less 1 hour sea travel.
There are direct flights from Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayande Oro City going to and from Iloilo City.
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