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Filipino Christmas Attractions and Activities

The Philippines is known for having the longest Christmas celebration in the world. The moment the calendar page turns to September 1, Filipinos already regard it as the start of the Christmas season. You’ll know and feel it because Christmas trees suddenly pop out all over the place and Christmas lights start to brighten the streets.

Eventually, it became a silent competition for local government units, malls, and even universities to install the biggest and brightest Christmas trees and other displays, and to hold the grandest parades. All of these offer the public a great chance to enjoy the season with their families and friends, all for free!

Here’s a peek at what different local government units, malls, and universities prepared for this year’s Christmas celebration.

AYALA TRIANGLE’S FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS Ayala Triangle’s Festival of Lights in Makati City has become one of Filipinos’ must-visits during the Christmas season because of the enchanting experience it offers. Enjoy “Christmas Nights with Countless Lights” as more attractions have been added on the attraction’s 15th year. Aside from the Kaleidoscope of sight, sound, and light where the Christmas and laser lights dance to the beat, the Wish Upon a Light and Liter of Light exhibits will give you more reasons to come back this year. Wish Upon a Light is a digital wishing pond that features an interactive LED screen where people can write their wishes, which are then projected onto the garden wall. Liter of Light on the other hand is an art installation by Leeroy New, featuring “Elemento.” From 6 pm to 10 pm, you can witness the lights and sounds show every 30 minutes. The Festival of Lights will be open until January 14, 2024.

ARANETA CITY’S 100-FOOT CHRISTMAS TREE Dubbed as the City of Firsts, Araneta City has made sure to light a better Christmas tree every year. For this year, Araneta City installed a 100- foot Christmas tree for “Your Home for Christmas” celebration. It is embellished with 20,000 pieces of white and gold glossy Christmas balls, 250 pieces of red and gold stars, 3,000 pine garlands, 300 pieces of sputniks and snowflakes and illuminated by 7,500 warm white LED bulbs. After taking photos of and with the Christmas tree, you may enjoy a variety of food items at the nearby bazaar.

UPTOWN MALL’S FESTIVE FILIPINO CHRISTMAS Filipinos never run out of ideas to make the Christmas celebration not just more lively but more relevant. And if we’re talking about “Filipino Christmas” this year, nothing beats the Christmas tree in Uptown Mall that is adorned with ornaments crafted by weavers from different parts of the country. The materials used in crafting the embellishments—which took all of five months to finish—were sourced from indigenous communities in Lanao del Sur, Marawi, Aklan, Iloilo, Albay, and La Union. According to the mall’s general manager, the unique Christmas tree is meant to “pay tribute to local Filipino craftsmanship and talent.” Uptown Mall is located in Taguig City, walking distance from other malls and bazaars that you and your family may enjoy as well.

SM AURA’S ECO-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS TREE A Filipino Christmas is like no other and for SM Malls, their 65th year is an opportunity to express gratitude to every Filipino by showcasing eco-friendly, Filipino-themed Christmas decor in SM Aura. Over the years, SM Supermalls have filled our Christmas with joy and excitement as they adorn each of their malls with Christmas decor of different themes. But in SM Aura, they made sure to use eco-friendly materials to reflect ILAW AT LIWANAG ng Paskong Filipino. A giant capiz lantern brightens a 33-foot Christmas tree, both of which were made from locally sourced sustainable materials such as rattan, raffia, abaca, buri, and bamboo. Aside from being a treat to mall goers, the Filipino-themed decoration is meant to “give back to the Filipino people.”

BAYAMBANG’S GHIBLI-INSPIRED CHRISTMAS VILLAGE Can’t afford to go to Japan this Christmas? The local government of Bayambang brought Japan to Pangasinan as it transformed the public plaza into the Enchating World of Ghibli. The village features the setting and characters from the popular anime’ creations of Hayao Miyazaki. It includes the “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Ponyo,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Secret World of Arietty,” and “The Cat Returns.” The Christmas village is open to Bayambang residents and visitors for free from 4 pm to 11 pm everyday.

TAGUM CITY AND THE TALLEST CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE PHILIPPINES Have you ever wondered where you could find the tallest Christmas tree in the country? In Tagum City, Davao Del Norte stands the record holder for the tallest Christmas tree, a distinction it has held since 2017. On November 24 this year, over 20,000 people witnessed the lighting of the 198-foot Christmas tree in the city hall complex. The Christmas tree is surrounded with ribbonlike strands of light that run down the bottom. Lights in the shape of starfish, dolphin, sea turtle, octopus, crab, and other sea creatures are scattered as ornaments.

PAG-IILAW AT UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES This year, the University of the Philippines Diliman decorated the famous Oblation with yet another creation by artist Toym Imao Jr. The bicycle-themed art installation, called “Tatsulokuyan,” is a visual delight, made even more attractive when lit at night. It literally served as the center of attraction as UP Diliman officially marked the start of the Christmas season in the campus last December 1. The year-end celebration for UP with the theme “Panibagong Lakas” celebrates the role and contribution of the university in the past three challenging years. The celebration will culminate with a lantern parade at the Academic Oval on December 20.

PASKUHAN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS “Let there be light.” Thus posted the University of Santo Tomas on their Facebook page as the university officially kicked off Paskuhan 2023: Witnessing the Joy of Christmas through the lighting of Christmas lights and decor in the campus followed by a concert gala. As in the past, the Christmas museum, Belen exhibit, and various Christmas parties continue to draw in crowds. A new addition this year is the Christmas Pop-up Village where students, faculty, and alumni can purchase UST and non-UST brands. Paskuhan 2023 will end with the most awaited Paskuhan concert on December 21.

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY LANTERN PARADE Saint Louis University (SLU) made the night magical as they illuminated the streets with colorful and creative lanterns during Baguio City’s official kick off of the Christmas season on December 1. After the ceremonial Christmas tree lighting of the city, the SLU marching band led the 15th SLU Lantern Parade where each school carried and waved their unusual and creative lanterns of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. Among the notable ones were those that looked like a church, a figure of a priest, papal crown, dragonfly, and even a farmer, all of which showed thoughtful conceptualization and incorporation of the theme, Journeying Towards Catholic Integral Formation and Global Excellence. The magical night was capped with a beautiful fireworks display.

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