There are many reasons why tourists flock to Baguio City—great views, cold weather, and sometimes, fresh strawberries. Another reason tourists visit the Summer Capital is to witness the annual Panagbenga Festival, but that’s not all!
The City of Baguio is filled with culture so it’s not at all surprising that they celebrate more than one festival every year! Here are some of the Baguio festivals you might want to check out on your next visit.
Baguio City Festivals
(February to March)
Panagbenga comes from the Kankanaey term, “season of blooming”. This festival started in 1995 to raise the morale of Baguio folk after the devastating 1990 earthquake that shook the city. Since then, Baguio City celebrates the season of blooming every year.
This month-long festival falls from February to March when the city is adorned with colorful flowers and vibrant street art. Cultural performances and flower arrangement competitions occur at the festivities. The main celebration, however, usually falls in the first week of February. Here, street and cultural performers, gigantic flower floats, and flower-related paraphernalia fill the streets of Baguio City.
The entirety of Session Rd. and nearby streets are also closed for vehicles, making way for food stalls, craft stores, and other merchandise. The month-long celebration starts with a grand parade and ends with a grandiose fireworks display and performances by local and known Filipino artists. The city also celebrates its indigenous roots by showcasing cultural dances by indigenous peoples in the Cordilleras.
Fair warning, though. Tourists and locals alike will be heading to town to celebrate Panagbenga, so you better be ready for the crowd and a bit of traffic. Almost 2 million tourists visit Baguio to celebrate Panagbenga yearly. Don’t worry much about the crowd, though! The festival is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Baguio City, and you’ll find the crowd less distracting when you finally see the amazing flowers in bloom around town.
Pony Boys’ Day
If you’ve ever visited Baguio, you probably have already noticed the open stables in some parks, which house numerous horses. These horses are taken care of by Baguio City’s pony boys, who are also in charge of the horse-related activities you see around town. Try to catch them at Wright Park (or Mines View Park), and they might even allow you to do horseback riding around the park!
Pony Boys’ Day is usually celebrated during the month-long celebration of Panagbenga, to show recognition to the horses and men who greatly contribute to the tourist economy of Baguio City. This one-day event is filled with activities like horse racing, horse pageants, and lots and lots of country music. You can take photos, join the activities, and after the festivities, you can grab a beer or two at some of the cowboy-themed pubs around the city!
(Third week of March)
La Trinidad is home to hundreds of strawberry farms and is known to harvest most of the strawberry produce in the country. This makes the humble town of La Trinidad deserving of the title “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines”. The town of La Trinidad is right next to Baguio City and can be visited via jeepney or taxi. So, if you plan on visiting the city of Baguio, you might as well do a side trip to La Trinidad to get a taste of their sweet produce.
Every third week of March, La Trinidad folk celebrate Strawberry Festival, where they champion their town’s famous delicacies. This festival started in 1981 when the then-town mayor encouraged strawberry farming among the local farmers.
Various events like strawberry eating contests, strawberry cake baking competitions, cultural and musical performances, and street parades occur during this week-long endeavor. Food stalls, souvenir kiosks, and craft stores are also scattered around the town plaza during this time, so make sure to pay a visit as well.
Tourists will also see tons of floral arrangements and decorations adorning La Trinidad (and Baguio, too!), as the Panagbenga Festival occurs only a week prior to the Strawberry Festival. However, unlike Panagbenga, fewer tourists visit La Trinidad to celebrate the festival.
Mangan Taku Food Festival
This festival aims to elevate culinary tourism in the region by putting the spotlight on traditional dishes and products from the Cordillera Administrative Region and Baguio City.
From savory delicacies like pinikpikan and inasal to delightful treats such as kiniing ice cream and binungey, the festival is a feast for the senses, offering visitors a chance to savor the vibrant flavors of the region. Alongside the culinary offerings, the festival also features cultural exhibitions, traditional performances, and interactive workshops, providing a holistic experience of Cordilleran culture.
Baguio Arts Festival
(November and December)
The city of Baguio is undeniably known for its art scene. Being home to hundreds of artists in different disciplines, the small city holds several art spaces for contemporary, traditional, and indigenous art. In fact, in 2017, Baguio City was recognized as a UNESCO Creative City–the first in the Philippines. Since then, the city celebrates the Baguio Arts Festival every November and December of the year.
During this time, massive murals adorn the city, art workshops headed by renowned artists occur weekly, and local artisans erect stalls around town to sell their crafts. The highlights of this festival, however, are the street performances, art exhibits, film screenings, and even fashion shows. The Baguio Arts Festival is a month-long celebration, so you can head up to the city any time, without missing much of the big festivities.
Christmas in Baguio
Baguio City truly comes alive during the Christmas season, transforming into a festival of its own. The city’s streets are adorned with twinkling lights and colorful decorations, creating a magical ambiance that captivates locals and tourists alike. As you stroll through the bustling Christmas night market, you’ll be treated to a delightful array of unique finds, from thrifty treasures to mouthwatering local delicacies.
The heart of Baguio’s Christmas spirit can be found along the iconic Session Road and at Burnham Park. These vibrant spots become gathering points for visitors, who revel in the festive atmosphere while savoring traditional Filipino and Cordilleran cuisine. And don’t miss the enchanting Christmas Village nestled within Baguio Country Club, where miniature houses and shops exude nostalgia and holiday charm. This picturesque setting offers a memorable shopping experience, with a delightful selection of gifts that are sure to delight your loved ones.
What to expect during Baguio Festivals
The Cordilleras have a lot of indigenous groups and Baguio City is doing a great job at showcasing and preserving their culture. This means that at every event in the city, you may hear Cordilleran music or witness cultural performances. At large events, they might even perform community dances, where they invite foreign folk to dance as well.
Food, food, and food!
No festival is complete without food. Whatever festival you visited the city for, you will find an extensive selection of culinary delights from Baguio. You might also find food originating from other parts of North Luzon, especially from the Ilocos region.
Traffic and Tons of People.
On a normal weekend, Baguio City is already struggling with heavy traffic and a high density of people, so you might expect it to double or triple during festivals. So, be careful when bringing your kid or toddler with you as it might become quite uncomfortable for them.
If possible, try not to use your own vehicle around town. There are very limited parking spaces in the city, and you can easily catch a ride to your destination with a taxi cab or a jeepney.
Book accommodations early.
Hundreds and thousands of tourists are expected to visit Baguio during Panagbenga. This means that you might have to fight tooth and nail for good accommodations during the month-long celebration. While there are tons of transient homes, hotels, and lodgings around town, they will get full during festivals, so plan your accommodations beforehand.
Baguio is a city full of life, colors, and culture, and if you’re a traveler, you need to see the city bloom into life during festivals—it will definitely leave you in awe. So, save this article, plan ahead, and be ready to experience Baguio as you’ve never had before.
Kat is a writer, traveler, and a foodie. If she’s not cramming her finals, you can find her reading the latest contemporary romance novels, binge-watching some doctor show on Netflix, or planning her itinerary for her next hypothetical trip with her friends.