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Stories and Tips from a Sinulog Festival Newbie

The Sinulog Festival is held in Cebu each year on the third Sunday of January. Tourists from all over flock to the island to witness and participate in the glorious week-long celebration that culminates in a grand parade with locals in elaborate costumes dancing to the beat of drums and native gongs.

It is a fun, vibrant, and colorful festival held in honor of the Sto. Niño, and is definitely something worth seeing and experiencing.

It was my first time at the Sinulog Festival and I had such an amazing time. I learned so much about the Sinulog traditions, and how the festival showcases and celebrates Cebuano culture in a way that’s both solemn and festive.

A glimpse of the Sinulog grand parade

The costumes worn during the parade were phenomenal. You can tell they really put a lot of effort in creating those pieces. There was this one girl whose costume really caught my attention: She was holding a Sto. Niño statue and had on this elaborate headdress and a full circle of feathers on her back.

The festival felt—and sounded—like a huge street party. The rhythm of the drums was so infectious that it had all of us dancing in the streets (I had the beat stuck in my head for a solid three days after the festival!).

The steps were easy enough to follow so my friends and I caught on pretty quickly. It was tiring, but a lot of fun.

Aside from the costumes and dancing, there were also colorful floats. Those were something else! They reminded me of Disneyland. I still can’t wrap my head around how they built the float with the Mother Nature theme. If I were giving awards for best float, that would definitely take top prize.

Kerwin King Sinulog Nightlife

After the parade, the parties were crazy! All you could hear were loud music and the crowd chanting “Pit Senyor!” The energy of the crowd was contagious.

Wet Weekend at the Cebu Yacht Club

The events leading to the festival were also exciting. I especially enjoyed Wet Weekend, which was held at the Cebu Yacht Club. Yacht parties are always the best.

We had a great time dancing to the music of DJs Knoxville, Katsy Lee, Ace Ramos, and Divine Smith. We took tons of photos and ate so much good food.

Filling up with the best Cebuano food

Cebu Lechon

Speaking of food, everyone knows Lechon Cebu is the bomb. I really enjoyed eating lechon and puso. Lechon Cebu, as we all know, is different from the lechon we have in Manila.

It’s a bit saltier and because they stuff the pig with aromatics before roasting it, the meat is more flavorful. That’s also the reason they don’t eat lechon with sarsa. You won’t find Mang Tomas here.

Meanwhile, puso is rice wrapped in a packet made from woven strips of coconut leaves then cooked. I also had the chance to meet up with my Cebuano friends and hang out with them at this hip new restaurant called Pyramid.

Some useful Sinulog survival hacks

The Sinulog Festival is such a unique and marvelous experience, you have to witness it and be part of it at least once in your life. If you’re planning to go to next year’s Sinulog, here are a few survival hacks you might find useful:

  • Make sure to always have your water bottle with you. Also bring a few energy bars. Partying is exhausting! If you can, have a light meal before going out for long walks.
  • Keep your belongings safe. I brought my mini bag—the one that has locks—with me so I
    wasn’t worried about wading through the crowds.
  • Wear flip-flops. Your white sneakers won’t stand a chance in the muddy venue.
  • Remember to party responsibly.

The whole experience was so surreal for me. I enjoyed myself so much, I will definitely be back. And next time, I want to be part of the parade. I want to experience dancing in the streets while carrying a Sto. Niño image, just like the locals. Hope to see you there!

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