Colourful costumes and headdresses, amazing dancers, drumbeats, grand fireworks display, giant puppets… No, I’m not talking about The Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. I am talking about the Sinulog festival in Cebu. Although a lot similar to the famous festival in Brazil, Sinulog is actually a very unique event on its own. If you don’t know this festival yet, now is the best time to.
A brief background
Sinulog is actually from the Cebuano term “sulog” which refers to the movement of the water. The term describes the forward-backward movement of the dancers. The event is both religious and cultural and was originally organised to honour the Holy Child Jesus through a dance ritual.
The majority of the Filipinos are devout Catholics, however, you do not have to be one to partake in the celebration. In fact, millions of people—not just believers— flock to the island of Cebu to witness and join the citywide party.
The Grandest Party of the Year
Every third Sunday of January (15 January 2017), the city of Cebu bursts with millions of people from all over the world.
The first major event, however, happens on Saturday, as millions of devotees join a solemn procession from and to the 451-year old Basilica Menore del Santo Niño.
On Sunday, the city wakes up to early mass and alluring drumbeats. More than 30 contingents from different provinces in the Philippines don their colourful costumes and dance to the Sinulog beat on the streets. Colourful floats and giant puppets also join the 6.1-kilometer street dance right at the heart of the city.
To watch the grand parade, tourists can hit the bricks and follow the street dance route. However, if they want to witness the rituals, they can purchase tickets to the grandstand. Most spectators prefer to be on the streets, as it’s more festive and they can even join the street dancers.
Aside from the street dance, local products and delicacies will also be on display. You can dine in booths along the streets and even party with people right on the streets! To cap the street dancing, people can watch the spectacular fireworks.
The celebration continues after that, as at night, partygoers in celebratory spirits overflow and continue the fun on the streets. Although the event is a religious and cultural one, booze and street parties have been allowed (plans to prohibit drinking and smoking are being discussed by the local government, though).
Preparing for the event
If you plan to be part of the event, book your airline tickets and hotel rooms months ahead. The rates for both will not only dramatically increase as the dates get closer to the event, but it is very possible for hotels and airlines to run out of rooms and seats quickly.
The Philippines is a tropical country. Although the month of January belongs to its “rainy season”, it’s actually still warm and sunny most of the time. Pack light clothing, comfortable shoes, sunblock and hats and leave your designer clothing and jewellery at home. It’s a very simple and laid-back place, so you do not need to deck up in your finest.
Do not forget to bring your camera and safety bag. You’ll be roaming around the city the whole day and you do not want to miss the colourful sights. Stuff your bag with your own water bottles, extra shirts and sanitizers as it can get really crowded it’s impossible for you to go back to your hotel.
Lastly, do not forget to have fun. Let lose and shout Pit Senyor!
Come and join Mish and our writers in the whirlwind of adventures as we bring you closer to the local’s heartlands. We cater to help likeminded adventurers to plan their local experience for a lifetime memories.
Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.