Sinulog Festival, Philippines

Solemn, yet festive. That is how most people would describe the Sinulog Festival in the Philippines. Sinulog, also known as the Sinulog-Santo Nino Festival, is a traditional celebration that happens every year on the third Sunday of January.

Photo by Rodney Ee

Celebrated in Cebu City, situated in the Visayas region, catholic devotees come together to honour the city’s patron saint – Santo Niño. Sometimes, other devout Catholics from around the Philippines come down to Cebu to join the festivities as well. 

What Happens at Sinulog 

Essentially, Catholicism and Christianity is an integral part of Philippine history and culture. Each year, devotees of the Santo Niño, or Child Jesus, travel to Cebu to take part in the religious activities. 

Photo by Rodney Ee

The word ‘sinulog’ means ‘graceful dance’, which is exactly how this festival is celebrated. They showcase a dance ritual, depicting the story of the Filipino people’s earlier Pagan past as well as their acceptance of Christianity in the Philippines. Cebuanos in their incredible local costumes fill the streets, exuding high spirits with every move. 

As the festival has evolved, more and more activities have been included apart from the parade such as contests, beauty pageants, and even art exhibits. The festival is a display of vibrant colours and the unity that is shared amongst the Catholics. 

Strength in Numbers

Photo by Hams Nocete

Dubbed as the ‘Mother of all Festivals’, some say that Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. From the number of attendees alone, you will start to understand why. What started as a small festive gathering amongst the Cebuanos grew into what it is now – the number of people who come to celebrate goes up to a million every year. 

Photo by Rodney Ee

Photo by Rodney Ee

If you happen to be in Cebu City in January, do not miss the chance to celebrate the Mother of All Festivals! Sinulog is truly a festival rich in culture and history that everyone should experience in their lifetime. 

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