Ati-Atihan Festival, known as the “Mother of All Philippine Festivals,” is a kaleidoscope of colors, music, dance, and infectious energy.

Rooted in history and culture, the Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the Malay migration to the Philippines and honors the indigenous Ati people. The festival’s name, “Ati-Atihan,” translates to “to be like Atis,” referring to the dark-skinned indigenous people who first inhabited the island. The festival is a joyful fusion of ancient traditions, religious devotion, and sheer revelry.

During the Ati-Atihan Festival, the streets of Kalibo transform into a mesmerizing spectacle of vibrant costumes and painted faces. Festival participants, both locals and tourists, don traditional Ati attire, complete with intricate face paint and headdresses made of feathers and shells. The rhythmic beat of drums fills the air as groups known as “tribes” dance their way through the streets, chanting and swaying to the hypnotic rhythm.

The street dancing competition, the highlight of the festival, where tribes compete to showcase their creativity, choreography, and vibrant costumes. Each tribe brings its unique flair and interpretation of the Ati-Atihan theme, captivating the audience with their synchronized movements and infectious enthusiasm. It’s a sight to behold as the streets pulse with energy and spectators join in the revelry, dancing and chanting along.

Beyond the dazzling parades and street performances, the Ati-Atihan Festival is also a time for religious devotion. Pilgrims flock to the town’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral, participating in processions and attending Masses to pay homage to the Santo Niño (the Holy Child Jesus). The religious aspect of the festival adds a profound spiritual dimension, further deepening the cultural significance of the event.

Apart from the festivities, the Ati-Atihan Festival provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the rich heritage and warm hospitality of the people of Kalibo. Visitors can sample local delicacies, shop for intricately woven handicrafts, and immerse themselves in the welcoming and festive atmosphere that permeates the town during this time.

Where is the Ati-Atihan Festival celebrated?

The Ati-Atihan Festival is primarily celebrated in Kalibo, the capital town of the province of Aklan, Philippines. Kalibo is located on the island of Panay, which is part of the Western Visayas region in the country. The festival takes place in various areas throughout Kalibo, including the streets, plazas, and the St. John the Baptist Cathedral, which serves as a focal point for religious processions and activities during the festival.

When is the Ati-Atihan Festival celebrated?

The Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo is traditionally celebrated in January. The main highlight of the festival usually takes place on the third Sunday of January, although the festivities may extend for several days leading up to that date. The exact dates of the Ati-Atihan Festival may vary from year to year, so it is advisable to check the official schedule or local announcements for the specific dates of the festival in the year you plan to attend.

Map of the town of Kalibo

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Ati-Atihan Festival

Additional Information

Read more about the festivals and other popular events in the Philippines. Check out the links below to discover more.

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