Giant Lantern Festival At The Christmas Capital Of The Philippines – San Fernando, Pampanga

The Philippines is known to be the longest Christmas - celebrating country in the world (as early as September) and when you see several parols start to light up the streets and homes of every Filipino, you’ll know Christmas is coming. 

A parol is what Filipinos call these bright and colorful lanterns you see at night. Traditionally made of bamboo and crepe paper, the parol was first used as light guiding townsfolk on their way to Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), an annual night mass that usually starts on December 16 until Christmas Eve. The most common parol design is shaped like a star but as time flows, many creative variants are made available like those made of steel or capiz shells with more intricate designs and lighting with sizes scaling from a few feet to a giant size of 40 feet.   

Different parols light up different households 

Yes, there's a giant parol, and every year in San Fernando, Pampanga; the Giant Lantern Festival is celebrated — fitting for a place that’s dubbed as “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”

Originally a similar lantern festival known as Ligligan Parul or Lubenas was a smaller scale religious ceremony that began its tradition somewhere between 1904 and 1908. Around 1931, when electricity was first introduced to the city, this tradition evolved into a bigger and modern version – the Giant Lantern Festival that was first celebrated in that same year in honor of the late President Quezon and his family which is now an annual celebration of San Fernando. Every year many people crowd the place where the Giant Parols are being showcased but due to the pandemic, people need to follow certain protocols for the safety of the event-goers. You can view the opening ceremony and witness the Giant Lanterns via recorded Facebook live here

If you want to see the giant lanterns of participating barangays up close you have to make an online booking via their website. Viewing is available by in-person or drive-in.  Face-to-face and group viewings are only available for fully vaccinated guests, while both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated guests can avail of drive-in tickets.

Drive-in viewing only allows 150 - 200 cars per show; Seats are available to those who book a face-to-face ticket however, no seats are provided to group viewing reservations but you can bring your own picnic mantles, tables, or stools. 

You can witness the lanterns’ exhibition shows twice per night which began last December 16, 2021, until January 02, 2022, with the exception of December 24 and 31. 

Whether you visit the Giant Lanterns at San Fernando, Pampanga or just view the parols hung outside and lighting up houses and streets that when you see these colorful and blinking lanterns, you know that the Christmas spirit is alive in any household and it is one of the symbols of Christmas in the Philippines.


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