Christmas season in the Philippines has always been a time to reunite with friends and family. Although some groups prefer staying in and watching shows on Netflix during the holiday season, there are also those who love venturing outside the city.
If you’re up for an adventure this Christmas, gather your loved ones and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with these sights and sounds outside the metro.
San Fernando City, Pampanga
The parol is perhaps the most recognizable of Filipino Christmas symbols. They’re colorful, crafted with love, and aglow with the cheerful spirit of the season. My family hangs several ones around the walls of our home each year, and I always admire their brilliance.
If you want to see the marvellous glow of giant lanterns, head over to the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga. It’s an annual event that features a competition among giant lanterns. All of the lanterns have innovative designs that display the creativity and originality of the city’s talented craftsmen.
After the competition, the giant lanterns are exhibited at various venues across the city for about two weeks, drawing in thousands of local and international travellers.
The Maytinis Festival is an old Christmas tradition in the historic town of Kawit, held annually every 24th of December. The festival is a dramatic retelling of Joseph and the Virgin Mary’s journey in search for a place to stay in Bethlehem, otherwise known as “Panunuluyan.”
The re-enactment happens on the streets of Kawit, with various grandiose floats depicting biblical scenes, from the creation of Adam and Eve up to Joseph and Mary’s journey.
The “Panunuluyan” takes place in several houses until it reaches the St. Mary Magdalene Church, where Joseph and Mary are welcomed by angels in a giant belen. The entire procession is accompanied with songs performed by little girls dressed up as angels.
Known as the Winter Capital of the Philippines, Baguio still gives justice to its claim to fame. It’s the perfect destination for those who want to experience the country’s chilly Christmas air. Aside from the crisp and cold atmosphere, the city is also home to flea markets, sidewalk bazaars, and the famous Christmas Village.
With different themes each year, tourists and Baguio residents alike enjoy a joyous white Christmas at the Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village. Artificial snow rains down on the visitors and cheerful Christmas songs fill the air. Sparkling colorful lights make the experience even more enjoyable, making everyone feel that magical Christmas spirit.
If you don’t have the time or the budget to go to Baguio for the holidays and experience the freshness of the cold December air, then Tagaytay is a great alternative. It’s budget-friendly, it’s perfect for family bonding, and it has limitless attractions. You can go horseback riding and ride the cable car at Picnic Grove, experience the thrill of the zip line and other rides at Sky Ranch, tour around the Taal Lake, and do other activities.
If you just want to relax with your family or friends, Tagaytay is home to a lot of beautiful cafes such as Tsokolateria, Bag of Beans, and Chateau Hestia. Since Christmas is the time to eat good food, dig in and have a feast!
Metro Manila also has its fair share of wonderful sights and attractions that bolster the Christmas spirit but sometimes, we all need a break from bustle of the city during the holiday season.
Do you know where you’ll be spending the holidays? Comment your dream destination below.
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Chryss loves ice cream, literature, and East Asian pop culture. She would like to pet your dog.