Stay updated on Covid-19 in Southeast Asia. For more information, click here.

Sinulog festival queen. Jeshurun Flores/Creative Commons

Cebu, reigning “Queen City of the South,” is ground zero for the Feast of Sto. Niño the Christ Child. Albeit celebrated in many parts of the country, the feast day takes on epic proportions in Cebu City, where it is known as Sinulog.

Set every year on the third Sunday of January, Sinulog heralds a day chock-full of dance, worship, and merrymaking. A grand parade lasts almost half of the day. Hundreds of street dancers corseted in extravagant renditions of native, Filipiniana, and colonial-Hispanic costumes turn the streets into a teeming river of color. Marching bands keep the thoroughfares thrumming with beat and melody.

Millions participate in the festival, locals and tourists alike. Latest estimates have pegged the crowds at four million at least. Some dive head-long into the revelry while others yet pay their respects to the Sto. Nino, an image of which is paraded on a boat that sails from Madaue City to Metro Cebu. A procession ushers it into the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, where a reenactment of Cebu’s baptism into the Roman Catholic faith takes place.

While the grand parade takes place on Sunday, the rest of the month is also devoted to related events. Visitors are advised to book flights to Cebu and accommodations well in advance, especially if they’re staying on the weekend of Sinulog itself.

Parade participants taking a break. Mike Aquino, used with permission.
Sinulog merrymakers. Mike Aquino, used with permission.

You Might Also Like…

For other, similarly evocative religious festivals, check out Laos’ Boun Vat Phou Champasak; Sinulog Festival in the Philippines; Phaung Daw Oo Festival in Myanmar; Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festival in Thailand; and Kate Festival in Vietnam. For other festivals in the month of January, check out Cambodia’s Paddy Art Festival and Myanmar’s Kachin Manaw and Naga New Year Festivals.