Pasko na naman! And you know what that means? Most Filipinos will be coming home to their provinces to celebrate the holidays and spend time with their families. Walang probinsya? Walang problema! Here, we list some of the best places and activities in Metro Manila to experience yuletide joy and the holiday spirit. From festivals and parades to concerts and more, there’s always something exciting going on in the metro come the holidays. Read on to find out more!
Also read: A Wanderful Christmas: Travel Activities for 12 Days
Holiday activities in Metro Manila
1. Marvel at the fireworks display in SM Mall of Asia
Indeed, there’s no better place to witness dazzling pyrotechnics than at the SM Mall of Asia (SM MoA) in Pasay City. After a two-year hiatus, it will be bringing back its much-awaited annual fireworks display. Thanks to its strategic location right in front of Manila Bay, it offers the perfect scenery for viewing. Aside from its fireworks show, folks can also enjoy its beautiful lights display at Central Park, SM by the Bay.
For more information, visit SM Mall of Asia’s official Facebook and Instagram pages.
2. Catch the Ayala Triangle Lights and Sounds Show
Another popular destination that will get you into the spirit of Christmas in Manila would be Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City, no doubt! Here, you can celebrate a brighter and merrier holiday season with the return of its annual Festival of Lights: Lights and Sound Show. Conceptualised by technical director Ohm David and lighting designer Sueyen Austero, this year’s much-awaited show features a live 360-degree experience.
3. Witness gigantic handmade floats and lanterns at UP Lantern Parade
Every December, the University of the Philippines welcomes the holiday spirit with its colourful and vibrant Lantern Parade. This university tradition began in 1922 as a simple homage “inspired by the folk practice of carrying lanterns to light the way to the early morning December masses or misa de gallo.” Since then, it has grown into the most popular Christmas festival nationwide. The UP Lantern Parade features floats and lanterns of all shapes and sizes (sometimes controversial) that reflect Filipino culture.
For more information, visit the University of the Philippines’ official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.
4. Attend the UST Paskuan with friends and family
It is no secret that The University of Santo Tomas has a knack for going all out during the holidays! Every year since 1991, it hosts a culmination of exciting Christmas activities called Paskuhan. From spectacular light displays and fireworks to fun-filled concerts and free food sharing, it surely knows how to take holiday festivities to the next level. This year, the university tradition is making a comeback after two years and will begin with a lighting ceremony on 29 Nov 2022 at 6pm.
For more information, visit The University of Santo Tomas’ official Facebook and Instagram pages.
5. Watch a film with the family at the Metro Manila Film Festival
Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is an annual film festival held every 25th of December through New Year’s Day in theatres nationwide. Usually, it showcases eight feature-length films along with a handful of short films to be screened during the event. Looking for other unique ways to spend time with your loved ones during the holidays? Consider hitting the cinemas to catch a film or two!
For more information, visit the Metro Manila Film Festival’s official Facebook and Instagram pages.
6. Quench your thirst for thrill and excitement at Star City
Down for a thrilling and spine-tingling Christmas? Enter Star City, a 35,000sqm amusement park in Pasay City! After its closure in 2020, the park has finally reopened its doors to the public and is ready to bring more fun and excitement. Home to over 30 rides and attractions to experience, Star City guarantees to get you and your family into the holiday spirit. Some of the attractions worthy of your attention this season include Snow World, Grand Carousel, and Star Flyer.
7. Shop till you drop at Christmas bazaars and night markets
Of course, what’s Christmas without the spirit of gift-giving? Get an early head start on your Christmas shopping and go tiangge-hopping as early as now! Not only does Metro Manila transform into a dazzling wonderland come the holidays, but it also features some of the biggest bazaars and night markets to explore. The best part? Here, you can snag the best goodies for a great deal if you put those haggling skills to use!
8. Complete the nine-day Simbang Gabi in your favourite churches
Simbang Gabi is a revered Filipino Christmas tradition and a nine-day devotional practice usually celebrated during the Advent season in anticipation of Christmas Day. This tradition dates back to Spanish rule and has since been widely practised by Roman Catholic Pinoys.
Interestingly, Metro Manila is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines that are worth paying a visit to during the yuletide season. Some of these include the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros and Quiapo Church in the heart of Manila City.
Also read: 12 Things You Miss in the Philippines When You Spend Christmas Abroad
Whether you’re heading back home to the province or celebrating Christmas in Manila, always remember that the holidays are not just about gifts, traditions, and decorations. It’s that time at the end of the year to give thanks, cherish spending time with loved ones, and most importantly, spread love and joy to everyone around you. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Featured image credit: Make It Makati | Official Facebook Page