Philippine Festival: A Handy Travel Guide in Cebu’s Sinulog Festival - Isla Story

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Philippine Festival: A Handy Travel Guide in Cebu’s Sinulog Festival

Festivals here, festivals there, its everywhere when you’re in the Philippines! Mark your calendars now and prepare to head on to Cebu, Philippines.
Every third Sunday of January, it has been an annual tradition in Cebu city to celebrate Sinulog Festival in honor to one of the country’s most famous historic relics: the Santo Niño de Cebú. Not only has it attracted millions of Filipinos from all over the country but many others from across the globe.

It wouldn’t be called “Mother of all festivals” for nothing. Just a quick history, the Santo Niño de Cebú was a century-old statue of baby Jesus that was handed by the Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the Rajah of Cebu in 1521. Thus became one of the most significant events in the history of the Philippines. The word “Sinulog” means, “Graceful dance”, which refers to the flowing movements of the dancers that resembles “sulog” or water current of Pahina River.
Now that you know what the festivity is all about, it’s time to get the preparation started. Just like any other festivals in the country, expect a full-day procession, locals competing in a street dance competition all adorned by brightly colored costumes, and numerous street parties! And with over 1-2 million people to expected to participate Sinulog Festival, better come prepared than miss out the festival highlights, right?

Lucky for you, we already listed down 6 handy tips on how to survive in the biggest celebration in the country:

As we mentioned, Sinulog Festival is a huge event and planning ahead will eventually save you time, money, and even from stress. With the flock of people even a week before the main event, you may have a hard time with booking a hotel room, tours and even flights since every slot would have been filled right away. 

What to do? Book your flights, ferry tickets, transfer services, and even tours as early as a month before the event. As for the accommodation, don’t wait until you get to Cebu city to find one. Make sure that before you arrive, you already booked a hotel ‘cause chances are, hotels and inns are going to be fully booked.

It’s a week long celebration with people going out on the streets and having the best time of their lives, and so should you! Get updated with the 2019 Sinulog Festival schedule, road closures, and start planning your itinerary.

Just little pro-tip, days before the main event, go out and explore downtown Cebu. It may sound touristy but it’s a sin to miss to walking by Basilica Minore del Sto Niño (the main highlight of the festival), offering prayers and candles at Magellan’s Cross, and passing by Colon Street, Osmeña Boulevard, and Fuente Osmeña Circle.

With a celebration this big, it’s common to see people passing out on the streets because of the heat. How not to pass out? Bring your own water in a tumbler, not in a plastic bottle! Also, make sure to bring enough cash. Well, credit cards will also do but who knows if you saw a cute souvenir in a small shop or want to try out some mouthwatering street foods right? Just bring extra money, but not too much.

Sinulog festival is quite chaotic; just make sure to be equipped with the essentials. Oh, and be attentive to your surroundings ‘cause pickpockets might also be attending the festival too so don’t wear flashy jewelries and let your guards down!  

Don’t ruin your Sinulog vibes with uncomfortable clothings like a super tight skinny jean. Though we get it, you want to stay fashionable and express yourself. But just to warn you, some events happen outdoors, so better stay cool and comfortable than cringy and sweaty. Also, don’t ever forget the sunblocks, glasses, and even hats! You wouldn’t want to go back to your hotel room crying because of the crazy sunburns right?

When you’re in the Philippines, attending festivals you’re best option if you want to get along and feel the warm welcome of the locals. Aside from the religious part of the event, Sinulog Festival is well-known for various concerts, contests, pageants, cultural shows, fireworks display, fun runs, and street fairs.

So whether you’re going out solo, with your friends, or with your family, there is an activity for you.

From the start of the festival until its main highlight, the streets of Cebu City will be filled with unwavering and tireless celebration of love and devotion for Señor Sto. Niño. They have this 9-day novena mass that when you complete it all, you’re prayers will be heard the Child Jesus. On January 19, they will be having the Solemn procession route which will begin and end at the Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino where the statue is housed in glass casing.

As for the main highlight, feed your eyes with large floats and vibrant street dancers during the Grand Parade. The route will start near the Careta Cemetery and will end at Cebu City Sports Complex. If we were you, better head there early so that you can take snaps of the floats and performers before the crowd gets heavy. 
Ragardless how many people attends and how big the festival gets every year, still, the essence of this festivity is never forgotten, to give thanks to the Santo Niño de Cebú. Do you feel the festival spirit yet? If so, start packing up your bags and make sure that you had taken notes of our whole Sinulog guide for a fun yet safe Sinulog celebration.

For more information, you may also check out Sinulog Foundation Inc's Website. Click here:


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