From January 6 through February 2, 2019, the city of Cebu will be full of colorful decorations and events for the Philippines most famous festival—Sinulog. You’ll hear the famous drum beat repeatedly played inside the malls, a sign that the festivities have just commenced.
Popular for its raves and parties, the Sinulog Festival attracts plenty of local and foreign tourists every year. But despite the grand festivity, Sinulog stays true to its purpose and that is to celebrate the Sto Niño.
What is the Sinulog Festival?
Deemed as the biggest event in the Philippines, the Sinulog Festival attracts about 1 to 2 million people every year. It is held on the third Sunday of January as a Thanksgiving event for the patron saint, the Sto Niño. It is so popular that many people will go out of their way to travel to Cebu to witness the event and will book hotels as early as December.
Apart from the religious aspect of the festival, there are street parties that many people get crazy about. There’s also the grand parade which showcases performers from the city as well as participants from across the country. You’ll witness dancers in creative costumes who move skillfully to the beat of the drums, trumpets and gongs.
How to Enjoy the Festivities
Since Sinulog is the biggest event in the country, you can just imagine massive crowds, traffic, road closures and long queues at the malls. With this, it’ll be a bit difficult to navigate your way around the city especially if it’s your first time. Now here are tips to help you enjoy and have fun on the day of the event.
Have a Concrete Plan
Taking part in the celebrations is all about having fun but don’t forget to have a plan. Prepare a simple itinerary that will guide you as explore the city. With a concrete plan, you will know what you’re supposed to do first, where to go and where to eat.
Walk Around Town
Sinulog is best experienced in the streets! Before the big day, try visiting the the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño — the highlight of the entire festival. You can offer prayers, light some candles or attend the daily Catholic mass. Then proceed to Colon street, the oldest street in Cebu. Enjoy the night market, buy some local stuff and put your negotiating skills to the test. Lastly, don’t forget to drop by Osmeña Boulevard where you will see beautiful tourist attractions that are randomly installed.
Taste Exotic Food
As a growing tourist destination, Cebu has plenty of culinary delights in every corner. From European inspired dishes to local treats, you can find many street vendors offering different cuisines. Be it sweet, spicy or exotic, Cebu has everything you need to captivate your taste buds and satisfy your gastronomic urges.
Shop for Sinulog Items and Souvenirs
Do some Sinulog shopping but do it a few days before the grand event. This is to make sure that you won’t have to keep up with the throng of people during the big day. Additionally, prices are a bit higher during Sinulog day so be sure to shop earlier and take advantage of local goods sold at a reasonable price.
Watch the Grand Parade
The grand parade is one that you should not miss! If want to skip the street parties, then watch the performers during the parade. This is where you’ll see participants from across the country do their ritual dance. As they dance, they shout out the very familiar expression “Viva! Pit Señor, Santo Niño!’” which means Hail to the Child King! Marvel at the graceful dance steps along with the intricate costumes and the overall creativity of the performance.
Enjoy the Street Party
Bring out the wild child in you and take part in street parties! Don’t miss out on the chance to drink, have your face painted and be showered with beer. The locals will not only greet you a big “Pit Señor!” but will also hand you a shot of beer, give you a hug or high five and even spray paint on your face.
Comfortable Clothes, Bottled Water and Enough Cash
The day can get pretty hot so ditch the trendy clothes and go for the most comfortable ones. Since the event is quite long, carry a bottled water so you can stay hydrated. And lastly, bring enough money as Sinulog is the time when you can find a variety of goodies on the streets. You certainly don’t want to miss out on the simple joys found on the sidewalk!
Here’s hoping you have already equipped yourself with the necessary information that will help you learn and enjoy the Sinulog festivities. At the end of the day, Sinulog is not just about witnessing the grand parade. Nor is it about going wild and crazy in the streets, drinking lots of beer and getting sprayed with paint on your face. It is truly about immersing yourself in the culture of the Cebuanos. Viva! Pit Señor, Santo Niño!
For more ideas for fun things to do in the Philippines, click here.