Christmas in the Philippines starts as early as September, so your best bet all the decorations are up, and there are gazillions of fun family-friendly holiday activities around the country that will get you in the joyful mood of the festive season.
Video by the Philippine Department of Tourism
If you’re planning to organize a holiday getaway with your family, friends, or loved ones, there are many wonderful spots in the country that celebrate and showcase Christmas traditions in the Philippines.
Here's a rundown of the best Christmas holiday destinations in the Philippines that take pride in their rich culture, events, displays, attractions, and cool December weather that can make your holidays a lot more enjoyable and memorable:
Misamis Occidental's Tangub City has a month-long Christmas display called the Christmas Symbol Festival, which features sparkly light installments that replicate famous world landmarks. This festival has even earned Tangub City the title of the Christmas Symbol Capital of the Philippines from the Department of Tourism in 2007.
Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism
It's like a Christmas trip around the world with installations in their city plaza like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral of France, the Garden Fountain at Isola Bella of Italy, and the Hwaseong Fortress of South Korea.
Other top tourist spots in Tangub City that you should visit are the Hoyohoy Highland Park where you'll see a panoramic view of Panquil Bay surrounded by the cities, and Memorial Hill, which features a Japanese canon from World War II. You can also do a side trip of nearby Ozamiz City.
This Christmas destination list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the University of Santo Tomas (UST)'s Paskuhan. It’s a month-long annual Christmas tradition that began in 1991.
The performances from Thomasian talents and well-known bands, the sight of a towering Christmas tree, the lights and pyromusical displays, and witnessing the Thomasian community in this time of the year makes it a must-add in your itinerary of Metro Manila tourist spots.
Photo from the University of Santo Tomas
Although Paskuhan is open to all, you must reach out to your Thomasian friend ASAP if you're planning to go. Non-Thomasian visitors wouldn’t be able to enter the premises without an ID-holder on their side.
If you’re down for more physical activity, you can explore a historic neighborhood and stunning architecture with Intramuros tours on a bamboo bicycle ride or by joining a horse-drawn carriage excursion.
Photo from SM Mall of Asia
Make your Christmas merrier by visiting SM Mall of Asia’s (MOA) Grand Festival of Lights Parade in Pasay, Metro Manila. It’s a mouthful, but it fits since it’s a big and bright event that is a feast for the eyes. This event is slowly rising to become one of the Philippines' Christmas traditions, and one of the most anticipated one at that.
Aside from this holiday attraction that will bring awe to all kids and kids-at-heart, there are plenty more things to do in Pasay, Metro Manila.
Buy a The Dessert Museum ticket for an interactive, mouth-watering, and Instagrammable activity that will put a smile on your face. They have eight dessert-themed visually pleasing rooms that make for interesting photo ops!
Experience a unique interactive museum trip at Lakbay Museo. Here, you will learn about the Philippines’ provinces and its history, culture, and traditions, from giant mango trees to Bicol’s Mayon Volcano. Guests also get to try Filipino dishes for free, like fish crackers with different sauces.
Another excellent Christmas holiday destination where you can enjoy a chilly vacation is at Don Salvador Benedicto, which is dubbed as “The Summer Capital of Nergros Occidental” and “The Little Baguio of Negros.” You can explore this place by joining a Don Salvador Benedicto tour which usually starts at Bacolod.
If you want some peace and quiet this yuletide season, this is the place to be. You can drop by the Rapha Valley, an organic farm that is known as a health and wellness destination, and Jomax Peak for a panoramic view of the area’s mountain ranges.
You can also go on a day trip to the famous Lakawon Island for a chill beach trip or to Bacolod City where you can do a Bacolod sightseeing adventure and visit ancestral houses, The Ruins, and go on a food trip.
You can choose to either relax and sunbathe by the beach or get active with the resort’s variety of water activities like paddleboarding, banana boat riding, and kayaking.
Dumaguete is known for its kind-hearted locals and peaceful coastal community. It may be a small and laidback destination, but it’s full of surprises, which makes it the perfect off-the-beaten-path Christmas destination.
One of Dumaguete’s popular attractions during this time of the year is The Christmas House. Dr. Rico Absin, a man with a genuine passion for art and decoration, dresses up his Spanish home with lights and ornaments to the public’s delight.
Photo from Dumaguete Christmas House
Another Dumaguete experience you can try is the dolphin watching adventure and a trip to Manjuyod Sandbar, dubbed as “The Maldives of the Philippines” to recharge, go snorkeling, or enjoy a beach picnic.
Feel the joy of Christmas at Central Philippine University’s (CPU) annual Festival of Lights and Music tradition in Iloilo. Thousands of travelers flock to this event to celebrate the birth of Christ and marvel at the historic university adorned with beautiful Christmas lights.
Since you’re already in the province, take the time to explore the top tourist spots with Iloilo tour packages.
When planning your holiday trip here, look into the top things to do in Iloilo to make the most of your time. Pay a visit to the province’s historical and cultural sites Iloilo trip to century-old churches and mansions or go on a tour to Islas de Gigantes for that much-needed rest and relaxation this yuletide season.
Go on a one-day farm-agricultural experience that will transport your whole family on a refreshing nature trip. From getting a taste of fresh organic vegetables and fruits in Orchard Valley to enjoying physical activities in Damires Hills Tierra Verde physical activities. This should be a fun and memorable Christmas destination!
There’s more to Cavite than Tagaytay, especially during this time of the year. One of its Christmas events is ‘Paskuhan sa Imus,’ a month-long festival that showcases trade fairs, fireworks display, beauty contests, and other activities organized by the city government of Imus.
Meanwhile, Kawit town also hosts Maytinis Festival every Christmas Eve. The event stages a dramatic re-enactment of the Virgin Mary and Joseph’s “Panunuluyan.” There are also floats reimagining biblical scenes.
Keep your eyes open for the different decorations with each neighborhood. Since you’re already in Kawit, pay a visit to Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, where you can see a stunning display of astonishing lights dancing to Christmas songs.
When it comes to experiencing Cavite through their local specialties, check out Calle Real, one of Tanza’s oldest houses that is now a restaurant. They serve traditional Cavite dishes, such as pancit choko and squid pancit, using recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.
You find that in different parts of the Philippines, Christmas decorations boast a mix of abundant creativity and vibrant culture. One of the most popular attractions during this time of the year is Ayala Triangle’s Festival of Lights in Makati City.
The unique lights show dancing to joyful Christmas medleys is a highly-anticipated attraction in Makati not just with locals, who have made it a holiday tradition to see, but for travelers as well.
The business district of Makati isn’t all towering corporate offices. Look at the right places or book the right tours to help you learn more about the district and the neat activities you can do while you’re there. There so many things to do in Makati!
You can also spend a day checking out museums in Makati, such as the Yuchengco Museum and Museo ng Makati. You can also get in the spirit of the season of giving by spending a day at one (or more) of Makati’s malls, like Greenbelt and Circuit Makati.
Make sure to plan your trip around a weekend, so you can visit the Salcedo Weekend Market in Salcedo Village that will please all of your senses. Join a walking and sightseeing trip of Makati City to best experience this urban jungle.
Are you thinking of spending a short but delightful Christmas staycation in a cool place with your family near Manila? Look no further than Tagaytay! You can spend a day enjoying nature at the Picnic Grove. Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out at the breathtaking Taal Lake and Volcano while you’re there.
There’s so much to see and do in Tagaytay, like slurping on a hot soup of bulalo (beef marrow stew), drink coffee or hot chocolate at neighborhood cafes, or unleash your inner child at Sky Ranch Theme Park.
Don't forget to take home lots of buko pie (coconut custard pie) and other Tagaytay delicacies when you do your pasalubong (souvenir) shopping. You can serve it to your holiday visitors or give away some to your relatives when they stop by. This is a great way to close your holiday trip down south!
Photo from Baguio Country Club Christmas Village
Get away from the heat and humidity of the metro and spend a fun-filled holiday getaway in Baguio. But the main reason that The City of Pines gets busy during this season is the annual Christmas Village in Baguio Country Club.
The place truly captures the spirit of the season with the lanterns, lights, and even artificial snow. Since you’re going there for the chilly weather and this eye-catching attraction, you might as well add more Baguio experiences to your itinerary!
A trip to the City of Pines wouldn’t be complete without a visit to other popular tourist spots in Baguio City like Camp John Hay, Woodcarver’s Village, Tam-awan Village, and the nearby Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, and BenCab Museum by National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera.
First on the list is San Fernando, Pampanga, the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. This is where people from different parts of the country flock to get a sight of the best parol (Christmas lanterns) and of course, to witness the Giant Lantern Festival also known as Ligligan Parul.
This festival started back in 1908 and is celebrated annually every December where barangays (villages) compete for the title of the best lantern makers in San Fernando.
Try the adrenaline-pumping wakeboarding tour at Pradera Verde. Do fun outdoor activities like bike ziplining at Sinagtala Farm Resort day excursion. You can also go on a day trip to Inflatable Island day trip in Subic where you can bounce and jiggle your way through the whole course.
If you’re up for a more adventurous holiday trip, hop aboard a 4x4 and power through rocky terrain by joining a Mt. Pinatubo hiking trip. You will be treated to views of a unique landscape that boasts the lahar canyons, stunning rock formations, and debris from Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption.
Plus, you can experience the healing power of nature through a volcanic sand spa experience with a Puning Hot Spring trip!
Have a Merry-meaningful Christmas Getaway
Out of all the Philippines’ holidays, Christmas is the festivity Filipinos (and foreigners alike) look forward to the most. Luckily, the country has plentiful of destinations that hold various Christmas activities for people who crave a slice of excitement and adventure during the holidays. Celebrating Christmas is definitely more fun (dare we say ‘merrier’) in the Philippines!