As a traveler, immersing in the local culture can truly be fulfilling. In the Philippines, there’s no better way to do so than to attend any of the countless festivals that take place in every corner of the country. Bacolod City is no stranger to this—to commemorate the history and development of their hometown, Bacolodnons merrily host several celebrations throughout the year, all of which you can participate in.
You can check these out if you’re in town, but you should also note that festivals attract enormous tourist crowds. Fortunately, there are lots of hotels in Bacolod to choose from, so you’ll definitely find accommodations, provided that you book early. That said, we’ve listed some of the most popular festivals in Bacolod to help you choose which to attend.
If you’ve been looking through festivals in the Philippines, you might have seen photos of people wearing colorful masks. This particular tradition takes place during the MassKara Festival, one of the most popular cultural events in the entire country.
The event’s name is a wordplay on maskara, the Filipino term for “mask.” These masks are typically seen with a smiling face, alluding to the Bacolodnons’ resilience and joy regardless of their circumstances. Also, if you want to participate, there are masks available for purchase to wear during the lively festivities. To spotlight the Bacolodnons’ talents and creativity, large groups participate in a dance competition while wearing colorful masks and clothing. Now, if you’re planning to visit, you can catch the festivities annually on the fourth Sunday of October.
Watch the Masskara Festival official song:
Beginning in 2006, Bacolod annually hosts a large event called Bacolaodiat to celebrate the country’s Filipino-Chinese community and their significant contributions to its economy and development. The name is derived from a portmanteau of Bacolod and the Fookien (Philippine Hokkien) word lao diat, meaning “celebration.”
This festival features Chinese lantern dance competitions, dragon dances, and food stops in Chopsticks Alley, culminating in a grand fireworks display. However, the events don’t have a definite date because it deliberately coincides with the Chinese New Year, between mid-January and February. So, if you’re planning to visit and attend the Bacolaodiat festival, be sure to check when the Chinese New Year begins.
Panaad sa Negros Festival
This is the place to be if you want to witness not only Bacolod’s culture, but those of the surrounding towns as well. Panaad sa Negros (or simply Panaad) is a seven-day celebration in April observed throughout the province of Negros Occidental. The festival showcases the diverse traditions of every town in the province through marches, banners, and parade floats that exhibit the Negros’ products and history. Fireworks displays are also held to mark the beginning and end of the celebrations.
The Panaad is named after the local Hiligaynon word for “promise.” Aptly so as well, because it’s held as a thanksgiving and celebratory vow to God in exchange for a good life.
Feast of Saint Sebastian
It’s a well-known fact that the Philippines is a nation that’s mostly made up of Catholics. If you’re interested and want to participate in the Christian culture of Bacolod, you can attend the Feast of Saint Sebastian held every 20th of January.
The festival begins with a thanksgiving mass led by the Diocese of Bacolod. This is followed by a procession of crowds carrying images of Saint Sebastian, the city’s patron saint, through the city roads—a familiar sight during Catholic celebrations in the Philippines. However, besides the religious rites, the locals also honor the saint with parties and games for both locals and visitors.
Bacolod Rum Festival
How about one that revolves around alcohol? If you want to try something new, you’ll definitely want to attend Bacolod’s Rum Festival. It celebrates the city’s roots in sugarcane agriculture, especially as Bacolod is considered to be the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, with most of the country’s sugar mills located around the city.
If this is the first time you’re reading about this event, it’s because Bacolod only started celebrating rum in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the Rum Festival in the subsequent years before finally resuming in 2022. The seven-day celebration takes place in mid-August and features plenty of activities for everyone, including barrel and street art competitions, cooking contests, concerts, and parade float exhibitions. If you do attend, make sure to drink responsibly!
Chicken Inasal Festival
Bacolod claims to have the best and the original chicken inasal (grilled) in the Philippines. So, if you’re in town and craving meat, you might want to check out the new Chicken Inasal Festival. The celebration takes place during the first week of May as an avenue to promote the city’s food culture and tourism.
The highlights, of course, are the 3000 chicken thighs cooked over a 300-meter-long grill in the middle of the street. The festival was first held in 2018 to attempt a world record, which unfortunately failed. However, people enjoyed the feast so much that it was repeated in 2019, until getting paused by—you guessed it—COVID-19. Planning to visit? Both of the Chicken Inasal Festival’s runs take place during May, so keep your ears open for news on when it resumes.
Having mentioned festivals in Bacolod City, there are also those in nearby towns that you might want to visit. For instance, the stunning Festival of Lights and the historically significant Babaylan Festival in the town of La Castellana is just a two-hour drive away. In any case, the popularity of these festivities in the Philippines, particularly in Bacolod, only demonstrates that cultural celebration is thriving in the hearts of Bacolodnonds, celebrations that you can be a part of.
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For Hotel Accommodation during the Festival:
Don’t forget to bring Pasalubong to your family from Merzci and Quan: