Ati-atihan Festival 2015

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The Ati-atihan Festival is celebrated in honor of Sto. Nino.  It is a colorful celebration featuring street dancers who paint their faces in different ways, plus a display of colorful and exceptional costumes. It is one of the most vigorous festivals in the Philippines.

Ati-atihan Festival 2015

The Ati-atihan Festival will be held on January 18 (Sunday) to January 25, 2015 (Sunday). The main Festival usually starts on a Sunday and ends on the next Sunday.

Since the Ati-atihan festival is usually celebrated as a week-long festival, plan your vacations ahead of time and be sure to come and be a part of the Ati-atihan Festival 2015. The 2015 Festival will surely be as fun as the earlier celebrations. Also, be ready to be a part of the celebration and dance your way through the Ati-atihan Festival 2015.

For a more enjoyable stay, bring a friend or your family with you and after witnessing this joyful event, head on to Boracay Island and enjoy the warm breezy air, cool salty water and white sand beaches.

Highlights Ati-atihan Festival

The Ati-atihan festival is held on the third week of January and is almost always held as a week-long celebration. As the Ati-atihan festival starts, lots of activities are scheduled for the succeeding days, making it a non-stop celebration.

CC image country of aldrin on Flicker

However, the highlight of the festival is usually reserved on the last day where a number of groups prepare their most bizarre costumes and choreographed dance moves in the hopes of getting the crowd’s attention and enjoy the festival itself.   

Ati-atihan  – Main Attractions

What is Ati-atihan?

The word Ati atihan means “make believe atis” or “to be like the Aetas”. The Aetas were the earliest settlers on the island, according to a few sources.

What is ati-atihan festival

The Ati-atihan festival is considered as the most vigorous festival in the Philippines. This is a week-long celebration and once they signal the start of the celebration, the dancing and music never seem to stop. It is also known as the Filipino Mardi Gras celebration because of its similarity to the ones in Rio d Janeiro, Brazil.

What is Sto. Nino?

Sto. Nino is a Spanish term for “holy child”. This term is used to refer to the child image of Jesus Christ.

Since the Philippines has been under the reign of the Spaniards for a number of years, we have adapted some of their words, cultures and religious beliefs.

Street Dancing and celebration

The Ati-atihan festival features merriment of singing, dancing and parade of participants dressed in colorful and bizarre costumes, with their face and body covered in black paint. Street dancing continues as they move to the beat of the drums and shouts “Viva kay Senor Sto. Nino”.  (Hail to the Holy Child). On the last day of the festival, several groups compete as they perform their best and wear their most creative costumes as they bid for the tourist’s attention and attempt to win the prize. It is indeed a joyful event.

History Ati-atihan Festival

During the thirteenth century, a group of Malays flee Borneo and came to the Philippines. The atis or Aetas are  the small and dark-skinned locals of Panay, allowed them to settle on the lowland while the atis occupy the upper land of the mountains.

Sometime later, the atis were struggling with food due to a bad harvest and decided to descend their mountain and visit the Malays to ask for food. They agreed and gave them some. The atis sang and danced for them as a way of showing their gratitude for the gifts that they have received. From then on, the Atis came down of the mountain every year to solicit food from the lowlanders and give thanks through song and dance.

As the Spaniards inhabit the Philippine territory, they added a Christian element in the festivals. The Ati-atihan festival is now celebrated as an honor to Sto. Nino.

Ati atihan. CC image country of Ken Ilio on Flicker

Interesting Information about the Ati-atihan Festival

A mass for Sto. Nino marks the opening of this festival’s religious event. The procession begins as the drum beats to a rhythm and people begin to dance along the street. The devotees keep on going and the festivities almost never stops, rain or shine. The celebration usually continues for a week as they believe that Sto. Nino (the miraculous child of Jesus) shall keep them away from illness and harm.


Book your hotel early: The Ati-atihan festival has been popular among local tourists and foreigners alike. So, it is best to book your hotel accommodations early as they tend to be fully booked at least a month before the event takes place.

Be smart: If you wish to witness the main event but do not want to stay in Aklan for a week, you may book your accommodation on the on the last three days (Friday to Sunday) of the festival as they usually reserve the main event on the last day (Sunday).

Bring your camera: Also, don’t forget to bring your camera as you will be seeing a lot of interesting performances and bizarre costumes that you might not see elsewhere. Take advantage of the festival and make sure to take as much photos and souvenirs as you can.

Be ready to join the party: While witnessing the best of Ati-atihan festival of Kalibo, be prepared to be dance with the group as the locals encourage you to join the party. This is a fun event and everybody is encouraged to join.

Useful Information – Ati-atihan Festival

Location: Kalibo, Aklan

Date: It is usually celebrated on the 3rd week of January. Ati-atihan festival 2015 will be on January 18 (Sunday) to January 25 (Sunday). This is a week-long celebration

How to get Ati-atihan

To get to the Ati atihan, you have to book a flight to Kalibo, Aklan. From Kalibo airport, you may hire a taxi to bring you to your hotel before you head on to the festival.

Roundtrip flights from Manila to Kalibo, Aklan would cost you around P2500 – 400 ($60-$100).

For a more accurate amount of your flight tickets and booking schedule, please check here and here.

Fee: None

Ati-atihan Festival 2016

The Ati-atihan Festival in the year 2016 will most likely take place on the 17th day of January which is Sunday and continues its week-long celebration on the 24th day of January which is also a Sunday.

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