Everything You Need to Know About Cebu’s World-Famous Sinulog Festival
Viva Pit Senyor!
The iconic phrase choruses across the streets of Cebu City during the country’s grandest festival. So if you’re en route to the Queen City of the South to experience Sinulog for the first time ever, you need to be well-informed in order to survive the busy streets and large crowds. Sinulog, after all, is a celebration of the Child Jesus known as Sto. Niño, a religious icon very dear to the people of Cebu, so a huge crowd should be expected.
To learn more about this religious celebration as well as the extra festivities such as street parties and competitions that come with it, make sure to check out this comprehensive guide before joining Sinulog this year.
15 Things You Need to Know About Cebu’s Sinulog Festival
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1. Celebrations last for a month
Filipinos love celebrations, and to kick off the year right, they start it with the month-long fiesta known as Sinulog. Events such as the Sinulog Fun Run, Sinulog Idol (Cebu’s local version of American Idol), Sinulog Festival Queen, and more happen on each Sunday of the month. To really immerse yourself in this very joyful annual celebration, try booking more than one weekend!
2. Señor Santo Niño
The heart of Sinulog is Señor Santo Niño de Cebu, sometimes referred to as the Holy Child of Cebu. The original statue is one of the oldest Christian relics in the Philippines gifted by Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and his wife. To this day, the statue and its likeness are regarded miraculous by many. On April 28, 1965, Pope Paul VI issued a papal recognition of the image and raised Sto Niño church to basilica status.
3. Rave parties
Other than the religious aspects of the festival, there are rave parties for the young and the young at heart to enjoy during the Sinulog festival season. Raves are huge dance parties held in open fields. Famous local and international DJs have graced the shores of Cebu, including American-Japanese DJ Steve Aoki. The most notable rave parties in Cebu are Plus 63, LifeDance, and Elektro Mundo.
4. Religious festival
The Sinulog festival may be as vibrant as ever, but since it is still a religious activity, everything must be enjoyed in moderation. Visitors and participants are expected to respect traditional religious customs observed during Sinulog and avoid making unnecessary commotions.
5. Millions of devotees
Sinulog festival started out as a small gathering to celebrate the rich history of the Philippines. But as the years go by, it has become a festival that has drawn in people from around the world. In 2016, an estimated 3 million showed up to celebrate the festival, and this year, organizers are expecting even more. Congestion, crowding, and pushing are bound to happen at busy intersections, so always stay alert and familiarize yourself with roads and landmarks so you don’t lose your way.
6. Street performances
The main Sinulog competition will happen at the Cebu City Sports Center. If you failed to get tickets, don’t be disappointed. Street dancing is done by contingents themselves following a set route. The key is to get a good view by securing a spot in the bleachers where the judges are located.
Other than the Sinulog dance competition, one of the most exciting parts of catching the Sinulog Grand Parade are the floats. A whole line of huge and colorful floats will take the designated route before they head to the Cebu City Sports Center. While some of the floats compete head to head, others feature local celebrities and other attractions just for people to enjoy.
8. Face paints, hennas, and tattoos
Face painting and henna tattoos are everywhere during Sinulog. You can sport everything from a tribal design to a symbol of your choice. Henna and face paint easily wash off, but you’ll have to be careful, as they tend to stick to linens.
9. Fireworks display at the Cebu City Sports Center
For the Sinulog grand finale, a stunning 30-minute fireworks display is held at the Cebu City Sports Center. Other than signaling the end of the competitions, it also marks the end of yet another successful Sinulog season in Cebu.
10. Celebrity sightings
As stated above, local celebs are commonly seen gracing sponsored floats down the carousel route. Some of the most popular celebs who have made appearances over the years are Coco Martin, Marian Rivera, Angel Locsin, and Kim Chiu.
11. Grand finale
The Sinulog Grand Finale is held at the Cebu City Sports Center. For this year’s celebration, the final dance will feature a lola telling her young kids the history of Cebu. Other than the final performance, other Cebuano artists and personalities are expected to make an appearance as well.
Commuting is nearly impossible during the Sinulog season. Major roads are blocked, and expect all jeepneys to take a different rout. To get from one place to another, expect to do a lot of walking. This is why comfortable clothing is recommended, so opt for some comfy sneakers and loose shirts.
13. Tourists from around the world
Sinulog festival gained a lot of international exposure in 2011 when National Geographic came to Philippine shores to cover the festival. Since then, the number of international tourists has increased. Most of these tourists remain in the city to enjoy the rest of the splendors Cebu has to offer.
14. Food and souvenirs
Food kiosks are available throughout the city for festival goers. You can enjoy everything from traditional Filipino food to souvenir items! Refreshments are also available, so you don’t have to worry about getting washed out as you explore the city during Sinulog Sunday.
15. Cebu City Sports Center
Want to watch Sinulog and immerse yourself in Cebuano culture? Then secure a ticket and join the festivities inside the Cebu City Sports Center. A valid Sinulog ticket runs along the lines of ₱500 to ₱2000. Make sure to come early as some areas are on a first come, first served basis.
Make your first Sinulog experience a memorable one by abiding by the rules and regulations of the city. All the rave and street parties may sound like a blast, but make it a point to respect the religious aspects of the Sinulog festival as well. Till then, hope you enjoy your Sinulog 2018. Viva! Pit Senyor!