Bacolod City, known as the “City of Smiles” in the Philippines, comes alive with color, creativity, and celebration during the Mascara Festival. This world-renowned event captures the spirit of the Negrenses, showcasing their talent, culture, and joie de vivre. Let us explore the history, significance, and enchanting festivities that make the Mascara Festival a beloved and eagerly anticipated event in Bacolod City.

1. A Celebration of Smiles:

Bacolod City is known as the “City of Smiles” because of Mascara festival.
Photo from Facebook Page | KAMM Media Network

For over four decades, Bacolod City has hosted the annual Mascara Festival, a unique celebration that centers around elaborately designed masks or “mascaras.” The festival serves as an avenue for locals to express their joy, resilience, and indomitable spirit in the face of challenges.

2. Origins and Legacy:

The Mascara Festival emerged in the 1980s as a response to the sugar crisis that greatly affected the region. Seeking to uplift the community’s spirit, the festival evolved into a grand showcase of creativity, artistry, and cultural pride. Today, it remains a symbol of Bacolod City’s resilience, emphasizing the beauty and smiles that endure despite life’s hardships.

3. Mask Parades and Street Dances:

Participants show off their colorful costumes and unique dance movements during street dance.
Photo by Lindsay Balitaon from Facebook

Central to the Mascara Festival are the vibrant street parades and dances, where participants don elaborate and ornate masks adorned with vibrant colors and intricate designs. Dancers, clad in colorful costumes, fill the streets, stomping to the rhythm of joyful music. The performances reflect the Negrenses’ deep-rooted love for joyous revelry and artistic expression.

4. Mascara Design Competitions:

The Mascara Festival is also renowned for its competitions highlighting the craftsmanship and creativity of the participants. Local artisans and students take part in mask-making contests, showcasing their skills and imagination. The masks range from traditional tribal designs to contemporary and avant-garde interpretations, each telling its unique story.

5. Electric Nights and Street Parties:

As the sun goes down, Bacolod City comes alive with vibrant evening celebrations. The streets are filled with colorful lights, lively music, and a sense of excitement. Citizens and tourists alike gather for street parties, all sharing in the infectious joy of the Mascara Festival.

6. Cultural Exhibits and Art Displays:

The festival offers various cultural exhibits and art displays where visitors can immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Bacolod City and the Negros region. Museums and galleries showcase local crafts, artworks, and historical artifacts, providing a deeper insight into the city’s cultural tapestry.

7. The Grand Culmination:

The grand culmination of the Mascara Festival is the highly anticipated street dance competition. Dance troupes from different schools, organizations, and barangays (neighborhoods) meticulously prepare awe-inspiring performances that combine traditional and contemporary elements. These performances are infused with the infectious energy and enthusiasm that symbolize the spirit of the festival.

The Mascara Festival In Bacolod City is an exuberant and captivating celebration that showcases the creativity, cultural heritage, and resilience of the Negrenses. This annual event, held in October, draws thousands of locals and tourists who flock to Bacolod City to witness the vibrant parades, dazzling performances, and the enchanting masks or “mascaras” that take center stage.