Lantern Festival in the Philippines

When is Lantern Festival?

Lantern Festival is on February 15, 2022.
It falls on Tuesday.

How many days until Lantern Festival?

There are 343 Days left until Lantern Festival in the Philippines.

What is Lantern Festival?

Lantern Festival is a working holiday in the Philippines hence people follow regular schedule. Lantern Festival, locally known as Ligligan Parul, is cultural celebration in the Philippines observed every mid of December yearly. This annual festival is held in the city of San Fernando. It is a long celebration which starts from the mid-month of December and ends on early month of January. Lantern Festival is an event fixed to compete with various appealing and colorful giant lanterns. Many Filipinos engage in this kind of celebration for the reason that the Christmas season is approaching and start to celebrate the upcoming holiday. Considering that the city of San Fernando is well recognized by many people because of the adoration of lanterns, the city was then called ‘Christmas Capital of the Philippines’.

Origin of Lantern Festival in the Philippines

The Lantern Festival started in Bacolor, one of the municipalities in Pampanga where Giant Lanterns are known. It was a small festivity back then and was simpler than the present celebration. In the city of San Fernando, majority of people believed that the festival was commenced on year 1904 on the month of August. However, fewer folks concluded that the first celebration of Lantern Festival in San Fernando began on year 1908. On year 1931, their giant lanterns started to have Christmas lights which enhanced the concept of their decoration that made their paruls (lanterns) more colorful and brighter. Later on, when the festival was beyond simple, each urban area were assigned to make one giant lantern. It was said that the barrios who first compete for the festival includes Barangay Santa Lucia, Barangay Del Pilar, and Barangay San Jose.

The first commemoration of the said festival was done to honor President Manuel L. Quezon, the former president of the country way back on 1935 to 1944. Since he was the one who proclaimed Mount Arayat (a volcano located in the province of Pampanga) into a tourist spot, the president himself donated the reward for the winner of the Lantern Festival contest; while the president’s wife, Aurora Aragon Quezon was the one who awarded the prize to the barangay who accomplished victory.

Due to the declared martial law in the country, the Lantern Festival was temporarily cancelled for three years, year 1973, 1974, and 1975. However, the festival was observed again. As years run through, the designs and styles of the lanterns they made developed into more captivating and alluring kind of lanterns. The hand-controlled light switches were replaced by the large steel barrels called rotors as the device which manipulates the turning on and off of the lights. They also use the traditional papel-de-hapon instead of the colored plastics as the first appearance of their lanterns. Each year, the lanterns they made always have a progress.


Lantern Festival Customs and Traditions in the Philippines

Because of this competition, the people in their barrios who participate the competition would definitely cooperate to make such good-looking lanterns. Natives should have a contribution in making the giant lantern. Large crowd always have the time to visit the lanterns in the place. Filipinos would also not let it pass without taking pictures. They would spend time roaming the place with the family to feel the presence of the Christmas holiday. The venue was always reported live on the television so people who are not able to go would see the dazzling paruls. Before the mass of Christmas Eve, which is the last day of nine days mass before Christmas called Simbang gabi, procession is organize and lanterns are displayed during the procession. After the procession, lanterns are placed in church. The winner of the Lantern Festival takes their victory as enjoyment and satisfaction.

Over the years, the lantern festival has spread across different areas in the Philippines. Considering that Philippines is one of the countries that celebrate Christmas season the longest, it is of no surprise that other towns, cities and localities arrange their own form of lantern festival even in islands outside Luzon. In addition, even weeks before the actual celebration of Christmas Day, the decorated streets and giant lanterns in plazas and other public places is already apparent.

Dates of Observance for Lantern Festival
Year Date Day Holiday
2022 February 15 Tuesday Lantern Festival
2023 February 05 Sunday Lantern Festival
2024 February 24 Saturday Lantern Festival
2025 February 12 Wednesday Lantern Festival
2026 March 03 Tuesday Lantern Festival
2027 February 20 Saturday Lantern Festival
Upcoming Philippines Holidays
Holiday Date
Maundy Thursday April 01, 2021
Good Friday April 02, 2021
Easter Saturday April 03, 2021