Saying Christmas season is a huge deal among Filipinos is an understatement. Being a predominantly Catholic country, the Philippines just can’t help but live and breathe Christmas. We excitedly start the countdown as soon as the “ber” months roll in. The anticipation further builds up when radio stations start filling the airwaves with Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas songs. And for some reason, we automatically start LSS-ing to its catchy tunes, much to our dismay or guilty pleasure. Then Christmas-themed events and bazaars, both old and new, begin to pop-up everywhere. So if you’re looking for places where you can truly relish the spirit of Christmas, don’t miss some of these top Christmas attractions in the Philippines:
1. Ayala Triangle Gardens’ Festival of Lights
Conde Nast Traveler deemed The Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens as one of the most spectacular places in the world to see Christmas light displays. Like a destination straight out of fairy tale, this miniature forest right smack in the middle of Makati CBD transforms into an enchanting paradise at night. Its millions of twinkling lights that hang from trees and Christmas hymns that fill the air will surely melt even the Grinchest of hearts. Now on its 6th year of offering holiday cheer, this synchronized lights and sounds show runs daily until January 8 from 6pm-10pm every 30 minutes.
2. Silay City’s Christmas Village
Christmas celebration is a serious matter for the Silaynons. Every year, participating barangays in Silay City, Negros Occidental goes head to head and vie for the best belen and arc. These intricately-designed Christmas belens and arcs are exhibited at their public plaza that they meticulously convert into a Yuletide-inspired museum filled with colorful lanterns, life-sized angels and a giant Christmas tree. Silay’s Christmas Village also holds yearly Christmas carol competition and even a dance contest for moms, aptly called “Dancer si Mader Competition.”
3. Greenhills Christmas on Display
Greenhills Shopping Center should be high up on your list this Christmas season. Not only because it’s where you can score gifts for your godsons and goddaughters without going broke. But this bargain hunter’s mecca is where you can also watch the much-anticipated and time-honored Christmas on Display aka C.O.D. This year’s theme, “One Life. One Story. One Fairy Tale,” revolves around famous princes and princesses. If you want to see your favorite royalty mannequin in action, be sure to visit Greenhills Shopping Center now until January 1, 2017. The Christmas on Display runs every half hour from 6pm-10pm. To accommodate your late-night Christmas shopping, the Christmas Night Market is also now in full-swing and starts from 6pm-12mn until January 1, 2017.
4. Star City’s Snow World Manila
Just when you thought you could never have ‘white Christmas’ in a tropical island such as the Philippines, here comes Star City’s Snow World. If you want to experience Christmas that’s colder than your ex’s heart, this is the place to chill literally and metaphorically. No need to go to the Harbin Ice Festival in China to experience subzero climate and marvel at stunning ice sculptures. Of course, don’t forget to glide down Snow World’s ice slide, the country’s longest. This modern indoor snow attraction also features two coffee shops for when your inner Elsa the Snow Queen needs some warmth and a little breather. Located in CCP Complex in Pasay City, Star City is open from 4pm onwards from Mondays to Thursdays and from 2pm onwards during Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
5. UP Lantern Parade
The University of the Philippines has been holding this annual Christmas affair for nearly a century now (since 1922). Before they go on their Christmas holiday, students and faculty members from different colleges and campuses, including affiliated organizations join the march to showcase their larger-than-life lantern entries around the Academic Oval. These lanterns and floats do not only aim to dazzle but also to depict messages concerning various social issues and current events. Definitely not your average Christmas lantern procession. As always, lantern entries from the College of Fine Arts never disappoint as the event’s fitting highlight and finale. The night’s festivities also include performances from several UP Performing Arts groups, fireworks display, music, dancing, and food. This year’s UP Lantern Parade is set on December 16, 2016.
6. San Fernando Pampanga’s Giant Lantern Festival
True to its title as the Philippines’ Christmas Capital, San Fernando, Pampanga is Christmas personified. It is home to some of the country’s finest and biggest lantern makers. A lot of these colossal lanterns are as tall as 20-feet and come in psychedelic colors and disco lights. To complete the Christmas vibe, these giant parols are usually accompanied with Christmas tunes that seamlessly sync to the dancing lights. Because of San Fernando’s proximity to Manila, it understandably draws many Manileños and also folks from neighboring provinces to witness its glorious lanterns. Be sure to check out Giant Lantern Festival’s website for this year’s schedule of events and exhibits.
7. Baguio’s Christmas Village
Still dreaming of frolicking in the snow this Yuletide season? Then head up north to the City of Pines. Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village is a winter-ful spot to experience instant ‘white Christmas’ sans going abroad. Here you can savor the faux snow, watch the nightly nativity shows and even hunt Pokemon. That’s right. The club jumped in on the Pokemon craze to make the event extra festive this year.
So expect to see Pikachu and his pocket monster squad hanging around the village as well. Of course, to stay committed to Christmas tradition, classic holiday décors like Christmas trees, belen, and sparkly lights still adorn the resort. And like in the previous years, about 80% of the Christmas décor that they used are recycled materials, such as wine bottles, plastic utensils, old key cards, golf balls and old sewer pipes. The Christmas Village is now open and will run until January 8 from 10 am-10pm on weekdays and up to 11pm on weekends.
8. Casa Santa Museum
Remember the day you found out Santa Claus doesn’t exist? Sucks, right? Well, it looks like you’ve been lied to. It turns out St. Nicks from all over the world have been converging at this Santa sanctuary in Antipolo. Just 30-minutes (excluding traffic jam) away from the metro, Jardin de Miramar’s Casa Santa Museum exhibits roughly 3,000+ Santa memorabilia from different countries, of varying sizes, colors, and characters. Yes, they even have Yoda and Darth Vader Santas! If you’re nuts about Santa or Christmas and want to experience it all year round, then this is the place to be. Casa Santa Museum is open daily from 8am-5pm.