The holidays are fast approaching, and you know what comes after that – the Sinulog Festival. You’ve seen it all on TV. You’ve probably heard people talking about it a couple of times before. You know all about the grand parade that happens every third Sunday of January, together with the revelers’ don Sinulog hats, face paint, and colorful Sinulog shirts that make the Sinulog Festival what it is.
A few months from now, the streets are once again going to be full of festive decors and colorful banners. People will still hear the great drum beat, which is a symbol of the good times that are about to come.
The Sinulog Festival is famous for its raves and parties, but its primary purpose is to celebrate the Santo Niño. Here in the Philippines, anything that has something to do with religious activities is a great excuse to leave town.
But before you begin packing your bags, I am sure that you will also be interested in reading our guide on how to go to the Temple of Leah as we discuss 8 Tips on the most natural ways that will help you.
So ready to read this whole Sinulog guide? You better equip yourself not only with the essentials but also with the necessary knowledge that will help you survive the entire event.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Sinulog Festival is Among the Biggest Event in Cebu City! Know Why
- 2 Sinulog Festival’s Brief History – Where it started
- 3 How to Take Part in the Sinulog Celebration
- 4 Tips for a Fun and Safe Festivity
- 5 An Important Travel Tips When Visiting Cebu City This Sinulog Festival
- 6 A 50 Actionable Tips from Experienced Sinulog People
- 6.1 From Yulie
- 6.2 From Nhagz Torrecampo
- 6.3 From Monica
- 6.4 From Christine Emilie Lim from
- 6.5 From Carlo
- 6.6 From Milos
- 6.7 From Lilliane Cobiao
- 6.8 From Melo Villareal
- 6.9 From Eliza Tan
- 6.10 From James Tubeo
- 6.11 From Jheanna Lou Torre
- 6.12 From Katarina Soderberg
- 6.13 From JC Echo
- 6.14 From Sonya Sison
- 6.15 Estan Cabigas
- 7 The Schedule of Activities
- 8 Conclusion
Sinulog Festival is Among the Biggest Event in Cebu City! Know Why
Considered to be the biggest event in the Philippines, the Sinulog Festival is held every January as a Thanksgiving event for the Santo Niño.
Sinulog is so popular that it attracts about 1 to 2 million Filipinos every year. There are so many famous events in the country, but finding one that people will actually go out of their way and travel to a faraway location for the sake of being part of a festival is one of a kind.
On the other hand, the thrill of people regarding the Sinulog Festival isn’t surprising because setting aside the religious component of the festival. There are also street rave parties that people from all around the country are crazy about.
The original Sinulog Festival takes place in the city of Cebu, but other areas have their own versions, too. Examples of other places that have different versions of the Sinulog Festival are Cagayan de Oro City, Maasin City, Kabankalan City, Butuan City, Balingasag Misamis Oriental, and Southern Leyte.
The most popular event in the entire Sinulog is the Grand Parade featuring candidates from the city of Cebu, as well as from across the country, which usually takes 9–12 hours.
You might have also heard of the Sinulog’s dance contest, which is done at the Grand Parade of the Sinulog Festival. You’ll see the dancers wearing costumes, gracefully dancing to the rhythms of the native gong, drums, and trumpets.
A week before the parade, there’s what’s popularly known as Sinulog sa Kabataan, which the youth performs.
It was only recently when the Sinulog Festival was a tourist area, and so a new event was added to the festival. The new event features a Sinulog contest held at the Sports Complex with candidates from all places in the country. The competition consists of different categories such as Free Interpretation, Street Dancing Category, and Sinulog-base categories.
Among all the categories, Free Interpretation seems to be the most popular, which might have something to do with the quick and easy dance steps, along with the fun storyline coming from mythical historical lines and folklore.
The Sinulog-base category is a more formal one since it focuses on dance worship and centers on a prayer dance. The participants are also expected to wear Hispanic-inspired and Filipiniana costumes. The winners of each of the categories will take home P1, 000,000.00 as a grand prize.
The Sinulog Festival starts on the first day of the Grand Sinulog Parade and goes on for nine days. Before the day of the Grand Parade, people flock at dawn for the Fluvial Procession when the Santo Niño statue is taken to a boat and then sails to Cebu City from Mandaue City.
The procession stops at Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, where people re-enact the formalization of Roman Catholicism. The parade is continued in the afternoon, but this time, held in the busy streets lasting for several hours.
Sinulog Festival’s Brief History – Where it started
The word “Sinulog” is derived from a Cebuano term, which means “like the movement of water,” which seems familiar because the action of the wave is precisely how dancers dance.
What do water movements have anything to do with the Sinulog Festival? The dance one step backward and two steps onward resembles Cebu’s Pahina River wave current, which means “sulog” in the Cebuano dialect. Thus, the Cebuanos began to call it “Sinulog.”
Historians believe that the Sinulog Festival is mere proof that the Filipinos were once pagans before they were reformed into being a Roman Catholic.
According to historical accounts, back before Ferdinand Magellan went to Cebu to claim the Philippines for Spain’s ruler on April 7, 1521, natives were already dancing the Sinulog, but instead of dancing it for the Santo Niño, they danced it to honor certain anitos and wooden idols.
When Magellan came to Cebu, he had given Hara Amihan a gift. He gave her a photo of Jesus. So, one question: who was Hara Amihan? She was Cebu’s Rajah Humabon’s wife, who later on was proclaimed Queen Juana.
Magellan was pretty smart to have thought of persuading the rulers to convert before the subjects. Naturally, people would be hesitant to sway from the religion their rulers have set for them, but since the rulers have converted into Christianity, the rest followed suit. However, his wits didn’t save him from his death when it happened.
It appears that Magellan got into a squabble with Mactan’s ruler Rajah Lapu-Lapu. He underestimated the men there. He thought he could handle them. He’d gotten too confident, and that was what led him to his deathbed. Well, if you were the one in Magellan’s shoes, you’d be as satisfied as him. How do you think you’d feel if you were fighting with a gun while your enemies fight with a wooden sword?
Magellan thought that he could take on Lapu-Lapu’s subjects bringing only soldiers to count, but the natives overwhelmed him, and he ended up dead in battle.
The remaining men of Magellan were able to get back to his home country to report about the unfortunate incident, but it took them about years before they were able to send back a new group to Cebu so that the Filipinos can be Christianized.
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led the new group of explorers to Cebu on April 28, 1565. When Lopez and his men retreated to the island, Juan Camus, who was one of his wittiest soldiers, found something on one of the burning huts –the Santo Niño’s image.
According to historians, this meant that years before the Magellan’s death and the arrival of Lopez on the island, the natives were still dancing the Sinulog, but instead of dancing it in commemoration of idols, they did it to honor the Santo Niño, now transferred to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
Back during the days, the Sinulog wasn’t the big event we now know it to be. It used to be just a mini ritual danced by children and candle vendors. It was just no big deal back then.
Things started to change in the year 1890 when the previous Regional Director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development (MYSD), David S. Odilao, Jr., made the Sinulog parade happen. Together with P.E. teachers, he discussed with the group the street dance parade for the Sinulog.
He invited Nang Titang Diola of Mabolo to present how the dance was supposed to be performed at Cebu Doctor’s College. They used the dance steps that candle vendors were using when performing outside The Basilica del Santo Niño.
The P.E. teachers led the first-ever Sinulog parade together with 7 schools and universities. The Department of Education Culture and Sports and MYSD financed the schools and universities so that they can represent Cebu’s history from the past up to now.
The parade went from Plaza Independencia and then went across the imagination of Cebu. It wasn’t long before people decided to make the Sinulog an actual festival. Not long after that, the committee thought of another brilliant plan. They thought of a logo to use for the festival so that it can be institutionalized as a yearly event. They weren’t about to utilize the image of Santo Niño as a logo since that would be considered as sacrilege. They had to think of something different.
Santo Niño’s coat of arms became the logo, which is often seen in banners of the old San Agustin Church, benches, and architecture. The emblem bears the mark of the House of Habsburg, which is a two-headed hawk.
The House of Habsburg used to rule the major countries in the world during the 15th century up to the 20th century.
Even Spain was being ruled by them. Do you remember when Spain set out to spread Christianity to the Philippines? They were under the ruling of the House of Habsburg as well.
The ruling of the Habsburg went way back to Austria in 1276 and went on up until the 20th century. They were the ones who established the Holy Roman Empire in 1452, and it proved to be powerful, especially under the ruling of Charles I of Spain.
So, the House of Habsburg that was embellished in the Santo Niño proved to be pretty influential during that time. The sign of the two-headed hawk can be seen in the banners that Magellan and his men brought to the Philippines, and the exact symbol was brought by Legazpi and other countries that went to the Philippines.
There’s a reason why the two-headed hawk had two heads. It was because it represented the house’s purpose: “Champion of Catholicism and Defender of the Faith.”
The committee had other things in mind for the Santo Niño’s logo. Given the background of the Philippines, they also embellished a sword in the two-headed hawk and coat of arms emblem, which represented our resistance to colonialism. It represents the Filipinos determination to defend their country at all costs, even if it cost them their lives.
How to Take Part in the Sinulog Celebration
Now that you’ve learned about how the Sinulog Festival all started, you feel like you’re one of the Cebuanos. You can already feel the spirit of the Sinulog before it even started. Before reading this article, there was a tiny desire in you to become part of the celebration, but now that you were given a complete background, you feel like you just have to be part of it.
So, what do you have to do to celebrate the Sinulog?
#1 Take a Night Walk From Downtown to Midtown (The Best Sinulog Festival Experience)
If you’re someone who loves the streets, then I suggest you don’t let the opportunity slip you by. You can start the walk by visiting Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, which by the way, is the main highlight of the entire festival. Then you can offer prayers and candles by walking to the Magellan’s Cross.
It’s always a pleasure to visit old or ancient cities. So, don’t forget to pass by Colon and get some pieces from the night market. Also, after all, these, don’t ever forget that you’re a tourist, and you should feel like it.
It will be a mortal sin not to visit the Osmeña Boulevard, where photos of beautiful tourist attractions are installed randomly. The last but not the least is the Fuente Osmeña Circle. Not only will you get to take a selfie with the famous huge Christmas tree, but you’ll also get to witness a concert performed by local artists at the rotunda. Trust me. After this night’s exercise, your body will thank you for it. The cultural experience that goes with it is only a plus.
#2 Sinulog Festival’s Grand Stand!
The Sinulog can be quite overwhelming, seeing as it is the biggest event in the entire country. You can be easily carried away by other events going on inside the festival, but I’m telling you, if you’re planning to go to Cebu to take part in the festivities, then the Grand Parade is something that you don’t want to miss.
Unlike other events in the Metro like rave parties, this one is the only part where participants from across the country get to dance their 5-minute ritual dance. If you’re a fan of art, then seeing the graceful dance steps along with the intricate costumes is going to be exciting, but if not, there’s no doubt that the event is still going to be something you’d be looking forward to seeing since the participants are mostly beautiful and good-looking men and women.
#3 Sinulog Street Party!
If you like going to parties, then you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to take part in the Sinulog street parties. Maybe you’re used to dancing and drinking at local pubs, but in this grand festivity, you’ll experience painting your face and getting showered with beer. Summon the wild child in you.
If you’re not into parties and just want to go for the religious aspects of the festival, just remember traveling to a different place is not about the travel or the journey. It’s about the experience. Your trip to Cebu for the Sinulog will be for nothing if you’re not going to step out of your comfort zone.
You don’t even have to dive into the fun if you don’t want to. Even just simply walking in the streets is fun enough. You’ll be greeted by locals, “Pit Señor!” paired with a high-five, a shot, a bottle of beer, a hug, or a slap of paint on your face.
Tips for a Fun and Safe Festivity
I said it once, and I’ll repeat it. Sinulog is the biggest event in the country. So, you can just imagine how hard it is to navigate through the whole event. Sure, there’s no doubt that the festival is going to be the biggest fun you’ve ever had in your entire life. But to make the fun last until the last day of the event, here are some tips that will surely come in handy as you take part in the biggest festivity in the country:
#1 Wear Your Worst Clothes
Well, not necessarily, but you shouldn’t wear your best clothes either. Take note that the Sinulog isn’t a fashion contest. It’s one of the messiest and most chaotic events in the country. The goal is to have fun, and in the Sinulog, having fun means getting wet and dirty. So, I guess you can already see why I’m telling you to ditch your best clothes if you plan to go to the Sinulog.
You’d go there to have fun. You’re going to miss out if you plan on wearing uncomfortable clothes like skinny jeans or crop tops.
#2 Bring a Large Bottle of Water
I’m not telling you to bring a gallon of water if that’s what you’re thinking. A large bottle enough to keep you hydrated for the rest of the event will suffice.
It’s like I said. The Sinulog is quite chaotic. You’re going to lose lots of fluids. It isn’t uncommon to see people passing out on the streets because of their failure to bring water. However, you don’t want to join them passing out, do you? Certainly not, so make it a top priority to bring water.
#3 Be Sure to Bring Enough Money
What’s going to happen during the festival? Well, nobody knows for sure, which is precisely why you need to have loads of extra money. Who knows? Maybe you’ll wound up in a costly hotel. How else will you pay for your other necessities for the entire trip like food?
Besides, it’s not every day that you go to an event as exciting as the Sinulog. So, you’re going to want to buy a couple of souvenirs.
The possibilities are endless, but just keep this in mind – when you’re far from home, it’s always crucial to bring extra money with you.
#4 Have a Plan
Joining festivities is all about having fun, but just because you’re trying to have fun doesn’t mean that you should go to the festival without a plan.
Even vacations can turn into a disaster if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. You should have at least a simple itinerary so that when you get to the city, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do first.
Let me give you a hint, though – planning doesn’t start the time you get to the city. If you intend to plan your week only when you get to Cebu, then it will be too late. You won’t be able to enjoy any of the events.
The best way to go about this is to plan the whole thing like a week before. Plan which vehicle you’re going to use whether you’re going to travel through plane, bus, or boat or those sorts of things. You should also find out which hotel you’re supposed to spend the few nights at.
Remember that the Sinulog is the biggest event in the country. So, you can bet that the place is going to be crowded, not only with locals but also with vacationers. You shouldn’t be surprised to arrive in the city with all the hotels fully booked. To make sure that nothing comes in between your plans, you have to start booking a hotel back when you’re still at home. There are loads of websites offering to book you to the hotels of your choice. Using the said websites, you’ll be able to assess the number of rooms available, as well as the prices for each.
As much as possible, you should also book a ticket for when you get back home. Chances are buses or airlines that are going to be fully booked, too, because you’re not the only one who is going to go back to your hometowns. So, you must secure a ticket before diving into parades and parties at the Sinulog.
#5 Bring Someone With You
There is no doubt that the Sinulog is going to be one of the most insane moments in your life, but it’s just not going to be much fun unless you have your squad or family members with you.
We love parties, yes, we do, but parties are only fun when you share it with people you care about. Despite being the most significant event in the country, you’ll be surprised how dull the Sinulog can be if you go there alone. Sure, locals will be greeting you as you walk in the streets, but that’s not enough to feel the warmth and fun that you’re supposed to feel when you join the festival.
#6 Take Pictures
You’d want to remember the festival for as long as you live…well, at least until the next time that you get back to the city. Memories are what make each moment count, but you also need to cherish those memories. There’s no better way of doing it than by taking pictures. Take lots and lots of them.
When you grow old, you’ll have something to look at. You’ll get to look at all the fun adventures you had when you were still young. In the meantime, that you’re still in your young and adorable self, you can keep those photos as souvenirs. Who knows? Maybe you can persuade your other friends to come along next time, too.
#7 Watch Fireworks
Most people just want to experience the Grand Parade of the Sinulog, but if you want your trip to be totally worth it, then you have to experience all of the events there. It’s a good idea to experience some solemnity as you watch the fireworks at the Sports Center for the grand finale.
#8 Taste Exotic Foods
When it comes to events like this, I know that you’re just interested in attending. That’s all. But the thing is that you should take advantage of your entire stay at the Sinulog.
You have to change your outlook when it comes to being a traveler. The purpose of travel isn’t so that you can brag to your co-workers back home how awesome your long vacation went. It’s not for posting awesome and fun pictures on social media. It’s about the experiences you gain along the way.
So, you have to try different things. If you’re used to eating adobo or sinigang for dinner, then it’s time for a change. Don’t worry. It’s only for the rest of the time that you’ll be staying in the city. Change doesn’t always have to be cruel.
I firmly believe that the reason Filipinos hate change is due to the colonialism that happened to our country before. One little change led to something that wrecked the lives of many. By uniting with our fellow countrymen, we were able to get over it, but the event was printed to the hearts of many. Since then, most Filipinos have dreaded change ever since.
You need to get over that point of view because most of the time, change is a good thing, especially in the case of vacations.
Not only should you experience their events, but you should also try to live life the way they do it because it will help you create an experience that you’ll never forget. You’ll be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. By the time that you leave the city, not only will you get to cherish memories, you also gained a lot of experiences and learning that can help you as you journey through your life in your hometown. You’ll become multicultural.
So, when you get to the city, don’t hesitate to try different foods. You’ll never know. Maybe some of their exotic foods will become your new ultra favorite.
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An Important Travel Tips When Visiting Cebu City This Sinulog Festival
So, you’ve gathered everything you need to know for the festival, and you’re sure that you’re spiritually ready to face the Sinulog. The Sinulog is a fun event, but when bad things happen along the road, you get ripped off your capacity to enjoy the event. So, for a smooth journey to Cebu City, here are some helpful tips:
#1 When to Go to Cebu
Face it. Even though the Sinulog is supposed to be a fun event, you’re still going to arrive tired in the area, especially if you came from a faraway city. So, the best thing to do is to arrive at least one or two days earlier. That will give you enough time to enjoy the view while the streets aren’t crowded with people yet. You’ll also get to have some beauty sleep before the big event starts.
As we all know, the Sinulog is a vast religious event that takes place in Cebu for a maximum of nine days. The main event starts on the third Sunday of January, which is initiated by the Grand Parade. However, there are already post events that take place in the city before January.
If you want to experience a smooth vacation, then you should come to Cebu one week before January. As I said, it will give you time to relax and enjoy the view of Cebu.
#2 Where to Stay
If you don’t have relatives in Cebu, then it’s going to be difficult booking hotel rooms since, like what I said for so many times in this article, the Sinulog is a huge event, and by the time that you get there to book a hotel, every slot would have been filled already.
So, the best thing to do is to book early. As I said, there are loads of websites, like Trivago, that lets you choose a hotel that suits your needs and budget. Apart from that, you can also get a Sinulog map so that you won’t get lost during the festival. With events as big as the Sinulog, it’s going to be challenging to navigate your way, especially if you’re surrounded by crowds.
#3 Wear Sunblock
Nothing matters more than the present. If you’re too focused on the future, it will turn out your future will be even worse because by focusing too much on it, you fail to block the hurdles that are coming along your present. If you want to be successful or at the very least happy, then you have to stay focused on the present as well. Whatever’s happening to you at this present time will affect you in the future.
But in terms of the Sinulog, you have to anticipate. You need to expect stuff like sunburn because nobody wants to go home with burns on their skin.
Note that the Sinulog happens outdoors. The event goes on for the whole day for a maximum of nine days. Just because the event is fun doesn’t mean that it’s free from the heat of the sun, but that shouldn’t scare you from experiencing the Sinulog either. You just have to come prepared.
Be sure that as you pack your bags for the big event, there is sunscreen included in your things. Most importantly, you should remember to wear sunscreen before leaving your hotel. This seems a bit trivial, but the idea is that people bring sunscreen but always forget to put them on.
Having your sunscreen with you won’t matter if you’re not putting them on.
Remember that you came to the Sinulog to have fun, and you will. Even so, you wouldn’t want to go home crying either. So, you better equip yourself with enough SPF to protect you from the sun.
#4 Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Locals and tourists aren’t the only ones who are going to take part in the celebration. You can expect that pickpockets are going to be there as well. A safety rule to always keep in mind is that pickpockets go wherever there are many people, and the Sinulog fits that requirement.
Not only will they have plenty of victims, but they’ll have an excellent opportunity to succeed, too. When you’re in a spacy area, it’s particularly easy to spot a thief, but when you’re surrounded when so many people…well, let me just say that you wouldn’t even know what hit you.
When you’re in a crowded place, you practically have to bump with every person in your way just to get through. So, you’re not really conscious of whether someone is taking a pick from your pocket or your bag. Besides, when you’re in an event like the Sinulog, you really won’t notice a thing because it’s either you’re too tired to see, or you’re too wrapped up with all the fun and excitement.
You’ll only notice it when you’re back at the hotel. To avoid these types of scenarios, you have to be alert. Know that any luxury can be stolen as quickly as you were able to purchase it. If possible, avoid bringing fancy stuff when you leave the hotel, and put your money in safe places.
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A 50 Actionable Tips from Experienced Sinulog People
List of Questions that our experts answered:
#1 Things to do in Sinulog Festival?
#2 Tips for a Better Experience on a Sinulog Festival?
#4 What is a Sinulog Festival for you?
#1: Experience the biggest culture dance in the Philippines.
#2: You need to wake up early and go to a stadium near abelliana high school for a better experience.
#3: It’s very unusual to be in Cebu city during the festival. You are going to learn more about the culture and religion of the Visayas regions.
#4: Sinulog festival is one of the beautiful festivals to me. As you will never see such a cultural and dance as Sinulog has
From Nhagz Torrecampo
#5: When celebrating the grandest festival in the country, Sinulog! There are many things that you can do during the celebration. If you will arrive Cebu a week before Sinulog, you can actually dance with the Sinulog sa Kabataan contingents.
Aside from that, you can take a quick heritage tour within the City. During the Sinulog fiesta celebration, you can enjoy watching the colorful Sinulog Parade street dancing and dance with the contingents along the streets. You may also enjoy Cebu’s best street foods while jaunting around the city and enjoy the street party at night.
#6: If you have plans to jaunt during the Sinulog Festival, it is better to take Vitamin C before you start the excursion. The change of climate would instantly affect people whose immune system is weak. ( but you’re the best if taking Vit.C daily ).
Wear Sneakers because it is agreeable that sneakers are the most comfortable pair of shoes to use, especially when doing excursions. Sinulog celebration sometimes treated to some people funnily as” Alay-Lakad”(Layman’s term: walking or hiking).
If you have plans to attend an event or parties such as Hyper Wonderland, Spectrum, Invasion Sinulog and etc. Thus, expect a crowded ambiance. Also, set expectations that you will be dealing with people with different personalities. Some might don’t care what they are doing because of fun or excitement. Thus, a possibility that you will get smashed if you will be in the crowd. To avoid troubles, approach them in a helpful and friendly way. Lastly, Dance, Shout, and Greet!
#7: From the moment I found how to party during the Sinulog Festival. I observed that this is an excellent way to make new friends. (Unexpected friends). Party in the street and dance to the rhythm of the drums and shout Pit Señor!!!!Pit Señor!!!!Pit Señor!!!!
#8: We all know that the “Sinulog Festival” is an annual fiesta celebration in honor of the miraculous holy child Jesus, Snr. Sto Niño. For me, the Sinulog Festival is the best way to ask our petitions and thanksgiving by shouting the traditional “Pit Senyor. Because I always believe that the holy child Jesus will ever hear our prayers.
#9: There is a lot to do in a Sinulog festival!! Some would love to dance around the streets with friends and family. Some people would like to get some henna’s by the roads, which is just cheap, but it’s a fun decoration for your body since Sinulog is such a colorful party.
#10: Bring lots of water. It’s essential, especially walking around the streets of Cebu. Wear a hat most definitely since it’s not that advisable to use an umbrella, you might cause some problems with other tourists/residents since it may block their view of the parade and since its a large crowd one way or the other you might have a few accidents. The next tip is to have someone with you at all times, so if you’re in a large group, get a partner, so if you’d get lost, you’re not alone. Also, have a distinct meetup place in case you get separated from some of your friends.
#11: It was last year that I get to go back to Cebu to celebrate Sinulog. I was with one of my best friends, and I met some of her college friends. Meeting new friends and partying were the highlights of that trip. We walked along Mango Avenue, the heart of some Sinulog street parties, and it was a riot. Paints get thrown everywhere, beers being splashed, and many more that could stain my clothes. It was one for the books.
#12: Sinulog is originally the time to celebrate our Patron Saint Sto. Nino, but for some, it has become of the best traditions in Cebu. It has been pegged as “The Best Party Down South,” and it truly is. If you want to witness the culture, tradition, and all the Cebuano community come together to celebrate, then Sinulog is the place to be.
From Christine Emilie Lim from
#1: Watch the parade (of course!) and dance on the streets. There will be lots of traffic on the day of the ceremony, so pace yourself and just walk around the city. Eat some street food while enjoying the revelry and fun atmosphere.
#2: Similar to any crowded events, be careful of your belongings, and just bring what you need. If you’re going to walk under the heat of the tropical sun, wear something comfortable and sunscreen.
#3: Growing up in Cebu, I’ve been to many Sinulog festivals. The best so far is watching the dance competition in the comfort of my home and avoiding the traffic and heat outside.
#4: The Sinulog Festival has attracted many tourists and celebrities alike over the years. However, the real meaning of the festival lies in the religious celebration of Santo Nino.
#13: Walk. There’s no better way to experience the festival than to explore Cebu in its most crazy of days.
#14: Wear the right clothing. You will be out all day and likely to get down and dirty.
#15: After having experienced numerous Sinulog parties, the best Sinulog experience right now is spending it with family. Preferably in a quiet place with excellent cold drinks.
#16: It’s the time for Cebu to shine.
#17: Visiting the Basilica del Santo Niño is a must. The best way to enjoy the Grand Procession is to mingle with a group of locals, you’ll join and be a part of the procession. Party in the evening around the Fuente Osmeña. With your last ounce of energy, go to the Ayala Mall to watch the Fireworks.
#18: Sinulog Festival is hugely overcrowded. At times it seems the city is about to collapse. Therefore, staying downtown makes a lot of sense. You’ll save time and energy. The South Pole Central Hotel location is the perfect place to enjoy the festival. When it comes to crowds, be cautious, and don’t panic. That’s why I suggest joining the procession with a group of locals. Filipinos are very educated and polite, you’ll be treated right.
#19: We wanted to participate in the procession, so we asked the organizers. They allowed us without any hesitation, and it was beautiful. The charming Filipino-Swedish couple we met on Camotes Islands joined us too. So there we were, amongst friends, dancing and taking pictures, surrounded by artists and dancers, having the time of our lives.
#20: Sinulog reminds me of Filipinos, their smile, and how polite they are. I felt safe, relaxed, and happy. What could possibly be better than getting to know Filipinos at this outstanding festival of art and music?
From Lilliane Cobiao
#21: Sinulog is a weeklong celebration with the Sinulog Grand Parade as the finale. Take part in the Parade and should Pit Señor with everyone. The fluvial procession is solemn but beautiful to photograph from the bridge. This is scheduled on Saturday, a day before the Grand Parade. If you’re just visiting Cebu, then you’ve to do everything Cebu has to offer — beaches, eat lechon, visit heritage sites, diving, booze cruise with island hopping. ”
#22: Festival is best to be experienced with a group of friends. Wake up early, so you get a right spot in the Grand Parade.
#23: 2008 was memorable because it was the first Sinulog Festival I attended. I was super impressed with how elaborate the preparation was. Unlike today, not everyone has a DSLR camera, so the police thought I was a professional photographer, so I was able to get inside the festival to take a photo of the parade.
#24: Sinulog, for me, is the biggest festival in the Philippines. And that is saying a lot because we’re fiesta-loving country. Nowadays, many provinces are leveling up the quality of their celebration, and Sinulog is always the bar they set to be the goal.
From Melo Villareal
#25: Experiencing the Sinulog Festival is quite a riot because, during this time, there are many events held in the province to celebrate it. I start my Sinulog experience by joining the kick-off; Sinulog Trade Fair, mass, and all the launching programs. I make sure to witness the main event which happens on the third Sunday of January and commence with a mass at 4:00 am and end with fireworks display at 12 mn. I also like seeing the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan where students perform dance numbers in colorful attires from head to toe and the street party bands.
#26: I experience the best Sinulog Festival by immersing myself in their culture. I like to embrace all the facets of the festivals and see every program held by the province to make sure I have a pleasant experience. With a festival that is as busy as this, I like to prepare lots of bite-size snacks and some water to make sure I can go about the day to day activities. I also want to not only take pictures but talk to the locals as well to learn about its history and how it is celebrated through the years.
#27: In my mind, Sinulog Festival is organized chaos because apart from their celebration of the image of the Child Jesus, it is celebrated by lively music and graceful yet exuberant body movements, which is actually welcoming.
#28: My best Sinulog Festival so far is going to the Photo Exhibit, which highlights the celebration through the photos. This part of the festival summarizes everything and inspire an even better festival next year.
From Eliza Tan
#29: Don’t miss out on the food (Lechon!) and wild street parties if you’re into that. Also, take time to visit the Basilica del Santo Niño and Magellan’s Cross — if you’re feeling touristy.
#30: Expect lots of walking and large crowds of people everywhere. Wear clothes & shoes that are comfortable and OK to get soiled. Don’t bring large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry that would be too much of eye candy to pick-pockets. Also, have fun! Expect to receive friendly high-fives or hugs from random strangers, as well as greeting everyone “Pit Senyor!” by the end of the festival.
#31: Probably the best experience for me was the Sinulog Invasion hosted by Spectrum.ph – they invite the best DJs to perform! Also, after the festival, we went to Bantayan Island to relax at the beach. There are lots of places to explore in and around Cebu, and I was lucky to have the best company to enjoy it with.
#32: The Sinulog Festival is a celebration not only for the Sto. Nino, but it is a week-long fiesta that showcases the beauty, talents, and warm of the Cebuanos. It is a fun and exciting way to experience local food and culture in Cebu.
From James Tubeo
#33: As a tourist, it’s been an annual tradition that my friends and I would fly to Cebu to celebrate the Sinulog Festival. A few things we do during the celebration are to visit The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño and join the locals in celebrating “SINULOG,” which is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. Another thing to look forward to is the street parties happening almost everywhere! Get to meet new people and friends from different places. Most importantly, have fun!
#34: Book your accommodation way ahead of time. Preferably, as early as August. Why? You have to remember that there are millions of people who want to attend this every year, so it’s not a surprise for most hotels to be fully-booked months prior!
- Always be ready with your street festival essentials. Be sure to bring a hat, waterproof pouch for your phone and money (because the street party gets wet & wild), a bottle of water, and most importantly, wear disposable shorts and a shirt. If you’re planning on staying for the crazy after-parties, the paint will be involved so you’re better off wearing something that you wouldn’t mind throwing away later on.
- Stay vigilant. This is common sense, but I have to stress the importance of this though because with all the things that are happening, you can easily get distracted during Sinulog, so be wary of pickpockets.
#35: To sum it all up in one word, my first Sinulog Festival was… intense. And I bet every first-timer out there has the same sentiment! Truth be told, it actually still surprises me how I was able to survive walking through the throng of people as I tried to get from one place to another. It was really crazy.
#4: Vibrant, lively, and meaningful, the Sinulog Festival is, without a doubt, a unique experience… a must-do and a must-see!
I look forward to attending it again for the next year!
From Jheanna Lou Torre
#36: As a first-timer, I recommend documenting your experience while you are there. There’s a lot of culture and colors at the festival that you will really love. I think the best thing to do is to enjoy and have fun!
#37: Prepare the things that you need.
- Water (A lot of water)
- Extra clothes ( Because it’s gonna be hot)
- Bring your camera
- Lock for your bag (for safety)
- Snack (because the restaurants will either be closed or full) “
#38: My experience was the last year 2016. We went there for a project, not realizing that it’s also the Sinulog week. I was lucky that we can witness the festival. Since we are tourist funny, because we can dance with the performers during the parade because the audience were only allowed to watch from the sidewalk. Then, later on, when the usher saw us, they asked us to move on the side.
#39: Sinulog festival is a festival of colors.
From Katarina Soderberg
#40: Dance along and have fun. Its a big party. Participate in the Parade and Procession, and don’t miss the Sinulog Grand Parade!
#41: A bottle with water a smile on your face and heart, and don’t forget the best shoes you have. It’s going to be a great party.
#42: Be on time, and don’t forget your camera.
#43: Lots of smiles and people. It’s very fantastic and I went back year after year! I love it so much and it’s making my life more colorful.
From JC Echo
#44: To start, Cebuanos are known to be religious, this is the reason why we do have the Sinulog Festival to give gratitude to the Baby Jesus Christ (Sto. Nino). The Festival will officially start from the first novena mass which is offered nine days before the third Sunday of January.
The pure blue devotees of the Holy Child Jesus do their best to attend the complete 9-day holy mass, and this is held in the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica Del Santo Nino.
During the past years, the festival got bigger and bigger. Street food and souvenirs are available along the main streets of Fuente Osmena, Colon (downtown Cebu), and the streets near the Basilica; Sinulog-themed parties and variety shows; and fireworks display.
On the day of the Festival, locals and tourists gather along the main streets of Cebu City (from Jones Avenue, Imus, General Maxilom Avenue, Mango Avenue, and Fuente Osmena) to witness the Mardi Gras. The festival will usually start at nine in the morning, depending on the number of delegates.
During the Mardi Gras, you will get to witness different delegates from the provinces of Cebu and even the Philippines. There are two categories that these delegates can choose from if they would like to dance to the tune of Sinulog-based beat or the free interpretation. You will not notice the humid weather since you will be entertained by the colorful costumes and, of course, the easy dance steps of every contingent.
After the Mardi Gras, there will be a crisp fireworks display in different places here in Cebu. To name a few – Ayala Access Road, Fuente Osmena, Abellana Sports Complex, and South Road Properties.
The party never stops after the fireworks display since there will be street parties anywhere in the principal streets of Cebu.
- If you really like to witness the best performance of every delegate, I would advise you to watch it in Abellana Sports Complex since this is the “grandstand” where they will show more of their props and dance steps. Ticket prices may vary.
- If you like to watch the Mardi Gras for free, it is advisable to be on the right side lane of the streets that I mentioned as early as seven in the morning.
- Make sure to wear something really comfortable, especially your footwear. The streets will be closed at eight in the morning and will be opened at five or six in the afternoon, but the vehicles will be challenged to pass by along these major streets, which suggests that you have to do the long-distance walk.
- It would be better if you will bring your own bottled water, a wide-brim hat, and a portable chair.
- Be mindful of your belongings, especially your wallets, camera, and devices. Don’t forget your power juice too.
- If you do not like crowded places, you can watch the festival that is aired on local channels.
#46: It was two years ago that I finally witnessed the Mardi Gras along the street with my father.
#47: Sinulog Festival for me is expressing how thankful we are for the abundant blessings we received, it is also the Cebuano way of showing how friendly we are since we get to greet strangers in the streets without the awkward feeling.
From Sonya Sison
There are so many activities that Sinulog offers, but these are possibly our favorites:
Usually, on this day, hotels line up food on the streets to sell. Grab the chance to taste the great food!
- Watch the grand parade – floats, bands, celebrities, and dancers alike come through this parade to entertain the locals and tourists!
- Street Party – Sinulog is very famous for its many street parties. Follow the people with all the paint, and you will find yourself in the best spot for free drinks and great music.
- Attend the many concerts Sinulog has to offer – Sinulog usually has its classic concerts like Life Dance, but don’t miss out on other shows with great DJs, music, and food!
1. Don’t forget to stay hydrated! It can get scorching during Sinulog and dehydrating
2. Stick together. There are a lot of people attending this event, and getting lost happens quite often! If that doesn’t work, make sure to set up a meetup point beforehand.
3. Apply on sunscreen before leaving to watch the grand parade
#51: It is an event celebrating Cebu, its beliefs, and the community it holds from
#52: Walk, enjoy, eat, and pray
Walk: while staying at a particular spot within the Sinulog route is okay, walking around is much better as you get to see more of the contingents at a shorter time and get to see more of the city
Enjoy: the Sinulog is Cebu’s biggest festival and partaking in the dance, the crowd, the “buling-buling” and after street dance party are part of the experience
Eat: savor different food while watching the Sinulog, from sidewalk barbecue and local food to several special promotions in several restaurants, you get to enjoy the festival as one significant gastronomic activity
Pray: remember that Sinulog is in honor of the Sto Nino, and saying thanx for the blessings and graces, praying for your family and career as well as offering supplication for our country and the world will make your Sinulog not just a fun activity but a memorable and meaningful event.
#53: Tips for a Better Experience on a Sinulog Festival? *
- Stay hydrated and dressed for the weather
- have fun but have that presence of mind
- secure your valuables
- dress for the occasion but wear decently especially when in very crowded places
- have an open mind
#54: Best Sinulog so far was to attend the procession on Saturday afternoon and just enjoy the street dancing the day after.
By paying homage to the Sto Nino and attending the festival, the day after makes the Sinulog a complete experience. The Sinulog is not just partying and drinking and having fun but both a spiritual experience and enjoying the hospitality of the Cebuanos.
The Schedule of Activities
The following list of activities from last year’s Sinulog Festival will give you an insight into what you can exactly expect from the festival:
Sunday, 19 January – Sinulog 2020 in the Philippines
Speaking of the “Sinulog Festival,” it’s not really about getting to witness the Grand Parade or the contests. Nor it is just about getting sprayed with paint over your face or beer all over your body. It’s about experiencing the culture of the Cebuanos.
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