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Sinulog Festival: Guide to Cebu City’s Grandest Festivity

The Philippines is known as the predominantly Catholic nation in Asia. It’s either the 4th or 5th largest Christian country in the world, so it is no surprise that the Sinulog Festival is one of the more popular festivals in the country.

Cebu City hosts the Sinulog Festival annually for a month that culminates into the Sinulog Grand Parade. This 2019, it will be from January 1 to February 9.

The festival is a veneration of Santo Nino or the child Jesus.

Its history goes back to the time when Magellan came to the shores of the Philippines and brought Christianity with him. That’s when the pagan past of the Filipinos mixed with Christianity.

Check out this guide for how to go there, what to expect, and tips when attending.


How to Go to the Sinulog Festival

By Air

You can fly directly from Manila to Cebu. Then you can take a taxi from Mactan Cebu International City to wheel you to Cebu City.

The plane ride will take about an hour while the taxi ride won’t take 20 minutes.

Read more: Mactan Cebu International Airport Guide

By Land

You can take a bus going to Batangas from the MRT Buendia station. Travel time is estimated to be a little less than three hours.

You can reach Cebu from the Batangas pier via ferry ride. The ferry ride will take about 18 hours more or less.

By Sea

2GO Travel offers ferry rides directly from Manila to Cebu International Port. Travel time averages to 11 hours.


How to Get Around

The Mactan-Cebu International airport is where most domestic and international routes in Cebu are availed. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and tricycles are all available in the roads there.

If you stick to the cities inside Cebu then cellphone service will be reliable. Outside of the cities though cellphone service can range from spotty to non-existent. During the Sinulog festival the local government sometimes shuts down cell service for security reasons.


What to Expect: Sinulog Festival Activities

Sinulog Street Dancers

The main festival is held in Cebu City. The streets will be filled with vibrant costumed dancers for the eyes and gongs, trumpets, drums for the ears. It really is a riveting assault on the senses.

A fluvial procession the day before the parade conveys an image of the Santo Nino to the Basilica de Santo Nino. This happens together with the reenactment of the Christianization of the Datus and the people by the Spanish.

The afternoon takes the procession to the major streets of the cities. Novena masses are held in churches.

Cultural shows, fun runs, fireworks, film screenings, trade fairs, and a variety of contests are all packed in a single month of celebration to make sure your experience of Sinulog is unforgettable.

Tips While Attending the Sinulog Festival

  • Pack a big suitcase.
    Pack your jackets and sweatshirts with you because January still has a bit of chill in the air.
  • Bring water and snacks.
    The Sinulog festival is not a short parade.
  • Pick your spots carefully if you want really pretty photos.
    It’s arguably the biggest festival of the year so there will be lots of people and lots of photographers, both amateur and professional, jockeying for shots.
  • Check the official Sinulog website for the actual schedule of events.
    This will help you plan your visit properly. Go to:


Where to Stay

NS Royal Hotel
Image Credit: @NS Royal Hotel via Web

Are you a budget traveler? Check out these accommodations under PHP2,000 to save on expense. They offer basic accommodations without sacrificing comfort.

  • L & M Hearthstones Lodge
  • NS Royal Hotel
  • Paragon Suites

Check out these hotels in Cebu City with pools for a relaxing getaway
Discover hotels perfect for a Staycation in Cebu


Where to Eat

House of Lechon Cebu
Image Credit: @simply_yve via Instagram

While you shouldn’t miss the best lechon in Cebu, there are other interesting cuisines to try when in the city. Make sure to check these restaurants out:

1. Anzani

  • Location: Anzani New Mediterranean Restaurant Panorama Heights,Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City
  • Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, European with Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten Free Options
  • Open hours: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM + 5:30 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Contacts: (032) 2327375 / Anzani Website

2. House Of Lechon

  • Location: Acacia Street, Cebu City
  • Cuisine: Roasted pork, Filipino
  • Open hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Contacts: (032) 231 0958 / House Of Lechon Cebu FB

3. Abaca Baking Company

  • Location: Ayala, Banawa, IT Park, Cybergate, Crossroads, Cyberzone | Cebu, Cebu City
  • Cuisine: American, Cafe, Contemporary with Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free options
  • Open hours: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Contacts: (032) 262 0969 / Abaca Baking FB


Things To Do

Taoist Temple Cebu

  • If you want to take something home with you to remember your time in Cebu city the Colon street is where you need to go. It has a nice night market. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs, shoes, clothing, and even jewelry. There’s also street food aplenty.
  • Enjoy the pools, jungle gym, and jungle scenery in Mountain View Nature Park. Amenities also include hotel rooms, washrooms, a café, and a restaurant.
  • Butterflies are the swan of the insect world, graceful and universally regarded as pretty. The Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary is really for the macro photographers to visit. There’s live butterflies in the garden just waiting to be photographed.
  • You can also explore some of Cebu City’s tourist attractions including the famous Magellan Cross, the Taoist Temple, and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.


Explore Nearby Destinations

Magellan’s Shrine Cebu

  • Naga Boardwalk and Park: The city of Naga is just 23.5 km away from Cebu city. This newly developed attraction is currently a scenic walk that hopes to draw more visitors and businesses in the area. Better take out your drone cams during the day and your tripods and bulb mode ready cameras at night.
  • Mactan Island: Mactan island is an island located just a few kilometers from Cebu island. It has a thriving scuba diving and snorkeling culture that offers beautiful underwater scenery and wildlife.
  • Magellan’s Marker and Lapu-Lapu Monument: If you’ve been to the Magellan’s Cross in Cebu city then might as well complete the trifecta and visit Magellan’s Marker and the Lapu-Lapu monument in Mactan island Lapu-Lapu city.


Header Image Credit: Kobby Dagan /

Come and witness the Sinulog Festival! Visit Traveloka for great deals on hotels and flights.

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