Manila Travel Guides

January

Feast of the Black Nazarene: one of the major religious festivals in January centres on a life-sized wooden statue of Jesus with dark skin. This unique portrayal of Christ was brought to Manila from Mexico centuries ago and is now enshrined in Quiapo. On the day of the feast, devotees go to the basilica in this district and parade the image around town.

February

Bamboo Organ Festival: one of the most unique and prestigious events in Manila’s calendar is this international music festival focusing on organ music. The week-long festival takes place at St Joseph’s Church, with events centering on its famous Bamboo Organ. Performances of sacred music from all periods fill the air during the event.

April

Maundy Thursday: the Thursday of Holy Week is a big deal in Manila. Its Catholic majority puts on large processions and services at all the churches in the city, offering a chance to witness or partake in this important day.

May

Flores de Mayo: this Catholic festival lasts for the entire month, and is held in honor of the Virgin Mary. Numerous religious events and rituals take place during the festival, culminating with the Santa Cruzan parade in Rizal Park on the last day of May.

San Isidro Festival: often called the most flamboyant and colourful festival in the Philippines, this event in Quezon honors the local patron saint with little festivals held all over town. A main religious procession through the streets caps the event.

June

Araw ng Maynila (Manila Day): this city pride day is observed all over Manila. A four-day food festival runs along the seawall of Roxas boulevard, where cafés from around the city put up booths selling food. There is also a national talent contest, music concerts and other fun events.

Fête de la Musique: more than 150 bands covering every musical genre converge on Manila to play their music on seven different stages at one venue on a single night. This music extravaganza is one of the largest concerts on the planet, and regularly attracts a wealth of global talent.

Cinemanila International Film Festival: at various venues all over the city, new films are shown from around the world. This film festival is considered one of the biggest in Asia, and regularly attracts big names and plenty of great movies.

July

Subli-an sa Manila: what started out as a religious ritual for the Holy Cross has developed into a traditional dance form known as Subli. This indigenous Manila dance is accompanied by four choral voices, each with its own special meaning within the song. Catching a performance of this magical art form is well worth the effort.

September

Kalesa Festival: this festival has been established to help promote the traditional horse carriages that still ply the streets of some neighbourhoods in Manila. Traditional dancing and singing, as well as musical performances are highlights of this event.

Filipino Heritage Festival: Manila celebrates its cultural diversity with this fun and comprehensive festival. Food, handicrafts, music and dance are all on display at venues such as Rizal Park and other main sites. This is the perfect time to learn more about the local culture in a festive atmosphere.

October

La Naval Festival: one of the more important religious festivals in the city happens each year in Quezon. St Domingo Church holds a nine-day novena to honor Our Lady of the Rosary with a long and impressive procession through the city. This is one of the most attended events in Manila, making it a real spectacle worth seeing.

November

Feast of Nuestra Senora Delos: Malate Remedios is the site of this religious festival honouring one of the city’s patron saints. A number of interesting rituals culminate in a major procession of the saint’s image through the streets of the city.

December

Christmas: the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, and subsequently Christmas is one of the main events of the year. Churches all over Manila put on impressive displays of pageantry and the population gets festive in spirit. Expect plenty of goodwill and kindness from the residents of the city during the Christmas season.