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Ultimate Dinagyang Festival Guide

The Dinagyang Festival takes places in Iloilo during the 4th Sunday of January every year. It showcases the rich heritage and beautiful history of the indigenous people, while celebrating in honor of the Senyor Santo Nino.

During the early years, they confined the celebrations to the parish as the image of the Santo Nino was paraded from the airport to the church. However, years later, the festival has grown to pattern the giant celebrations of Ati-Atihan.

Dinagyang Festival Costume

The exciting festival is filled with music, dance, culture, a competition of the best costumes among the different tribes, and more. Here’s all that you can eat, see and do when you visit:

HOW TO GET THERE

It’s best to book your flights to Iloilo months before the Dinagyang Festival. The closer you are to your departure date, the more expensive the tickets may be.

But keep an eye out for the regular discounts to lessen your peak-season vacation bills. All of the country’s leading airlines fly from Manila to Iloilo, with some offering it multiple times a day, daily. Flight time from Manila to Iloilo is only an hour and 25 minutes.

Check awesome flight deals here where you can get one-way airfares for as low as P800.

WHAT TO DO

The Dinagyang Festival has three main events: The Ati tribe competition, the Kasadyahan Cultural Competition, and the Search for Miss Iloilo. But the parties aren’t confined to just the main events.

The Ati Tribe Competition is one of the most awaited events of the festival. Tribus compete through a choreographed “warrior dance” while dressed in colorful indigenous outfits. Some of them carry a shield and a spear.

They dance to the beat of live drums, and various percussion instruments while chanting in the local dialect. All of these colorful and elaborate costumes are made by hand, some by young students.

Tourists and locals alike are expected to dance along to the beat of the drums.

The main streets of Iloilo city will be filled with food kiosks and Dinagyang festival souvenir stalls.

Because of the colorful costumes and wonderful expression of culture, the Dinagyang festival is one of the most photographed events in the country. The festival holds a special contest for photographers where the best photos are given recognition. There are spots allotted for photographers all over the festival grounds.

WHERE TO EAT

You can’t visit Iloilo without tasting the wonders of Ilonggo food. The aroma of delicious cooking and sizzling street delicacies will follow you during your trip. Though you can score great food just about anywhere during the festival, it’s always best to make time for a mouthwatering sit-down meal.


Photo from Tatoys Manokan & Seafoods Facebook Page

You can’t leave Iloilo without eating in Tatoy’s. The Ilonggo original that started as a simple bahay-kubo style restaurant now has its own beachside resort. They’re most famous for their lechon manok (P320), charcoal-roasted chicken, marinated in vinegar and calamansi, and stuffed with lemongrass and other herbs.


Photo from Netong’s Restaurant Facebook Page 

One of the most famous Ilonggo dishes is the batchoy. For the most authentic version, you have to drop by Netong’s at the La Paz Public Market. A bowl of batchoy (P55)  typically includes slow cooked broth with beef or pork, egg noodles, fried garlic, creamy bone marrow, scallions, and crushed chicharon.


Photo from Hometown Buffet by Freska Facebook Page 

What’s better than unlimited food? If you’re starving and looking for all the great Ilonggo food, make time for a meal at Hometown Buffet by Freska. A meal for one will cost you less than P300.

Another must-eat while in Iloilo is the creamy fresh Talaba (oysters). You can enjoy this at Breakthrough Seafood, a restaurant that serves only the freshest catch. They also serve various shellfish like Imbao (fatty clam) that you can only find in the region.

Now that you know how much enjoyable it can be to visit, check out these Iloilo City hotels where you can stay during Dinagyang Festival!

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