December Festivals in Mindanao Worth Your Time

December in Mindanao is a time of vibrant festivities and cultural celebrations. This region of the country comes alive with many December festivals in Mindanao that showcase the rich diversity and heritage of the local communities.

From the lively Torotot Festival in Davao City, where plastic horns fill the air with jubilant sounds, to the enchanting Handuraw Festival in Dapitan, which honors the historical significance of Dr. Jose Rizal, these December festivals offer a delightful immersion into the traditions, arts, and vibrant spirit of Mindanao.

With parades, performances, culinary delights, and a warm sense of community, these festivals create lasting memories and showcase the unique cultural tapestry of Mindanao.

Let’s learn about the December festivals in Mindanao that you shouldn’t miss.

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December Festivals in Mindanao: Christmas Symbols Festival (December 6, Tangub City, Misamis Occidental)

A Tangub City Christmas (Source: lsj/Wikimedia Commons)

The Christmas Symbols Festival in Tangub City, Misamis Occidental is a captivating celebration that showcases a stunning display of Christmas symbols, lights, and decorations. Known as the “Christmas Symbols Capital of the Philippines,” Tangub City takes pride in its annual festival that brings together locals and visitors in a joyful celebration of the holiday season.

The Christmas Symbols Festival typically begins in early December and lasts until the first week of January. It creates a festive atmosphere that extends well beyond Christmas Day. The festival’s highlight is the vibrant display of Christmas symbols and larger-than-life decorations that transform the city into a magical wonderland.

The Christmas Symbols Festival in Tangub City allows the community to unite and celebrate, attracting visitors from nearby and far. The festival promotes tourism and serves as a showcase for the artistic talents of the local community. It has become a beloved tradition, drawing people to Tangub City to experience the magic and beauty of the Christmas season.

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Kanyong Kawayan Festival (December 14 – 20, Kidapawan City, Cotabato)

The Kanyong Kawayan Festival is a lively and captivating celebration in Kidapawan City, Cotabato, Philippines. This annual festival pays tribute to indigenous roots and the significance of bamboo in local traditions.

The festival’s name, “Kanyong Kawayan,” is derived from the Visayan term for “bamboo cannon.” The bamboo cannon is an integral part of the festival, symbolizing the spirit of resilience and unity of the people of Kidapawan City.

The Kanyong Kawayan Festival is a celebration of culture and artistry and an opportunity for community building and social cohesion. It brings together people from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, it fosters a sense of unity and pride in the shared heritage of Kidapawan City.

Shariff Kabunsuan Festival (December 15 – 19, Cotabato City, Maguindanao del Norte)

Fluvial parade during the Shariff Kabunsuan festival (Source: DOT-ARMM/Wikimedia Commons)

The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is a vibrant and culturally rich celebration in Cotabato City, Philippines. This annual festival commemorates the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan, a Muslim missionary who played a significant role in spreading Islam in the region. The festival serves as a tribute to the rich Islamic heritage and his contributions to the local culture.

The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival typically takes place in December and lasts several days. The festival showcases a diverse range of activities, cultural performances, and events. It highlights the Islamic traditions, arts, and values of Cotabato City.

The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival celebrates the Islamic heritage and the legacy of Shariff Kabunsuan. But it serves as a platform for promoting intercultural dialogue, understanding, and harmony. It is a time when people from different backgrounds come together to appreciate the vibrant Islamic culture. Also, it strengthens the bonds of unity and peace in Cotabato City.

Handuraw Festival (December 27 – 31, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte)

The Museum of Rizal in Dapitan (Source: JollianneClaire/Wikimedia Commons)

The Handuraw Festival is a vibrant and enchanting celebration held in the city of Dapitan. This annual festival pays homage to Dapitan’s rich cultural heritage and historical significance. It particularly focuses on its connection to the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He was exiled and spent much of his life in the city.

The Handuraw Festival is a testament to Dapitan’s rich cultural heritage and historical importance. It showcases the city’s commitment to preserving its past and honoring the legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal. Through its various events and activities, the festival offers a unique and immersive experience. It transports visitors to a time when Rizal’s ideals and visions were nurtured in Dapitan.

December Festivals in Mindanao: Torotot Festival (December 31 – January 1, Davao City, Davao del Sur)

The Torotot Festival is an energetic and unique celebration held in Davao City. This annual festival, which takes its name from the local term for “horn,” revolves around the vibrant tradition of using torotots (plastic horns) to welcome the New Year with joy, enthusiasm, and a symphony of sounds.

The Torotot Festival takes place on December 31, serving as a fun and lively way to bid farewell to the year ending and welcome the coming year. It is a testament to the Filipinos’ love for celebration and desire to start the New Year positively and festively.

The Torotot Festival is not only about festivity and celebration; it also promotes environmental awareness. Organizers and participants emphasize using eco-friendly torotots from recycled materials like paper or cardboard to minimize waste and encourage sustainable practices. This focus on sustainability aligns with the city’s commitment to preserving the environment and creating a greener future.

Furthermore, the festival fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie among the participants and the community as a whole. It brings people from different backgrounds together. Moreover, it allows them to connect, celebrate, and share the joyous spirit of the New Year. The festival serves as a reminder of the Filipino value of Bayanihan, or communal unity, as everyone joins in the festivities and creates lasting memories.


Final Thoughts

The December festivals in Mindanao capture the essence of the region’s rich cultural heritage, vibrant traditions, and strong community spirit. These festivities unite locals and visitors, creating a joyful and immersive experience. With their parades, performances, culinary delights, and deep-rooted traditions, these festivals leave a lasting impression, fostering a sense of unity, pride, and appreciation for the remarkable cultural mosaic that defines Mindanao.

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