15–21 January 2018
For lovers of all things mardi gras, Ati–Atihan is the Philippines’ most spectacular festival, and its historical roots can be traced back to early Borneo settlers. Whilst Filipinos are known worldwide for their gracious hospitality and friendly nature, this particular feast festival, held annually in January, in honour of the Santo Niño (the Infant Jesus), allows visitors a glimpse of their wild, colourful and playful side, a facet of these devout and thoughtful people rarely seen in public. Ati-Atihan is a festival of constant movement, drumming and feasting – basically a non-stop riot of exhibitionism, costume, music and dance. Soot-black painted faces, feather headdresses and animal bones create a show-stopping visual treat throughout the proceedings. After days of relentless drumming and festivities, it’s nigh on impossible for even the most reluctant and restrained traveller not to get covered in soot and join in the raucous and romping all-night closing masquerade ball.