As the holiday season approaches, many of us yearn for memorable experiences to share with our families. While malls are a common choice, those seeking a unique adventure this season should explore the Philippines’ most festive places. Here are some extraordinary recommendations for you and your family to create unforgettable memories.
1. Marikina’s Enchanting Riverbanks Center
Nestled along the serene Marikina River, the Riverbanks Center has become an annual Christmas haven. Each year, visitors eagerly anticipate its Christmas bazaar, where vendors offer incredible deals. For the little ones, there are exhilarating carnival rides to enjoy. After indulging in some retail therapy, unwind by the riverside and bask in the mesmerizing view, making your holiday truly magical.
2. Baguio City’s Snowy Christmas Village
Baguio City has long been a favorite destination during the ‘ber months due to its refreshing cool temperatures. Some even playfully claim it’s cold enough to see snowflakes. One must-visit spot in Baguio during the holiday season is the Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village. Here, you’ll be immersed in a wonderland of Christmas trees and festive decorations, perfect for your Instagram feed. The highlight is the enchanting snow show, making you momentarily believe in a snowy Philippines.
3. Misamis Occidental’s Christmas Symbols Festival
In 1992, a simple request from the mayor’s wife to illuminate a Christmas tree at the city plaza ignited a beloved tradition. Families soon flocked to witness the brightly adorned tree, and it has since become an annual spectacle. Throughout the holiday season, expect to be captivated by beautifully illuminated buildings and lanterns that adorn the area, creating a captivating Christmas ambiance.
4. Tagaytay’s Tranquil Highlands Resort
For those who prefer a shorter journey from Manila, Tagaytay offers an equally enchanting experience. With its cool ‘ber months weather, Tagaytay is renowned for its sumptuous bulalo, a savory beef soup. An ideal holiday retreat is Tagaytay Highlands, an urban escape offering a wide array of activities. Consider a relaxing round of golf to unwind amid the natural beauty of the region.
5. San Fernando, Pampanga: The Christmas Capital of the Philippines
No list of Christmas destinations is complete without mentioning San Fernando, known as the “Christmas capital of the Philippines.” Its love for Christmas even gained global recognition on Jeopardy. The highlight is the Giant Lantern Festival, featuring parades showcasing enormous handmade lanterns. A contest for the best-designed lantern adds an element of competition, making each lantern a unique spectacle to behold—a grand experience for the entire family.
6. UST’s Paskuhan: A Grand Thomasian Tradition
For students and alumni of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Christmas holds a special place in their hearts. UST’s Paskuhan, a grand year-end celebration, marks the conclusion of the school year. Savor delectable treats from numerous food stalls while enjoying live performances by popular OPM artists. The evening culminates with a breathtaking pyro-musical display that leaves everyone in awe.
7. Quezon City’s Iconic UP Lantern Parade
Another festive gem among the Big Four universities is the UP Lantern Parade. Dating back to 1922, this century-old tradition sees participants from the school’s various colleges and offices competing to create the most eye-catching floats. Inspired by the Spanish practice of carrying lanterns during the misa de gallo, this parade offers a glimpse into the rich history and creativity of the university.
8. Bailes de Luces Festival in Negros Occidental
To express gratitude for the year’s blessings, residents of La Castellana in Negros Occidental celebrate the Bailes de Luces Festival. Originating in 2000, this festival draws inspiration from the joyous gatherings of farmers after receiving their pay, symbolized by sharing drinks around a campfire. Anticipate vibrant costumes and dazzling LED displays that represent hope for a prosperous new year. It’s a delightful way to conclude the year and rejoice with the community.
In the Philippines, the holiday season is a time of unity, joy, and celebration. These diverse and unique destinations offer something for every family, making your holiday season truly exceptional. So, this year, venture beyond the usual and embrace the enchanting festivities the Philippines has to offer.