January Is Fiesta Time

January in the Philippines means a cavalcade of colorful festivals that mix religious devotion, ethnic pride and just plain fun.

Feast of the Black Nazarene, January 9th, Quiapo, Manila. Source: Wikimedia Commons. (Photo by Denvie Balidoy)

After the explosive celebrations of the New Year, the Quiapo district of Manila takes a solemn respite for the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9th. A statue depicting Jesus Christ carrying the cross on his way to Mount Calvary is carried on shoulders of devotees in a procession marking the image’s transfer to its present location in Quiapo Church. Celebrants reach out to touch the image, believing they would be blessed with a favor or granted a miracle.

The Ati-atihan Festival of Aklan, third Sunday of January (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Department of Tourism)

On the third week, many localities all over the country honor the feast of the Santo Niño (Holy Child), a major religious patron. In Aklan, the Ati-atihan was originally a pagan thanksgiving festival celebrating the friendship between the Malay and Ati tribes on Panay Island. When the Spaniards arrived, the missionaries made it a Christian celebration by honoring the Santo Niño. The Sinulog of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo also had similar ethnic beginnings but were converted into Christian festivals to foster strong devotion among the locals.

The Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo, fourth Sunday of January (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Department of Tourism)

The Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo, fourth Sunday of January (Photo by Encino Dee)


Ati-atihan was originally a pagan thanksgiving festival celebrating the friendship between the Malay and Ati tribes on Panay Island.

The Sinulog Festival of Cebu, third Sunday of January (Photo by Marcelino Rapayla, Jr.)

The Sinulog Festival of Cebu, third Sunday of January (Photo by Marcelino Rapayla, Jr.)

For more information on the Philippine festivals in January, click on this link to the Department of Tourism at www.dotpcvc.gov.ph.