Bacolod, a sleepy province in the Philippines known for its vast sugar fields, comes alive once a year during the annual MassKara Festival. Recognized as the happiest and most vibrant festival in a country of over 7,000 islands, the MassKara festival is a month-long party that draws tens of thousands of visitors to this charming little town.
Brace yourselves for the main event: an insane street dancing competition performed by talented dancers in wild traditional costumes and masks that could give Brazil’s Rio Carnival a run for its money! At night, the Electric MassKara lights up the streets with more dancing, but this time dancers don bright, colorful neon lights alongside epic parades in the most elaborate costumes you’ve ever seen.
That’s not all: this sensational festival also has dozens of fun activities for spectators. There’s a MassKara Beauty Queen pageant, garden shows, concerts, drum competitions, sports, and much more.
‘The event was originally intended to be a ‘smiling festival’ to help get the locals through tough times when the global price of sugar, a key crop in Bacolod, saw a huge drop.’
Today, people flock from all corners of the world to attend a unique, colorful party in a city that since then, has no longer lost its smiles.
MassKara gets its name from combining mass, which refers to a multitude of people, and the Spanish word cara, which means face. The MassKara Festival is also a pun on the word ‘maskara’, which translates to ‘mask’ in the local language.
You’ll understand why once you’re there – you’ll be in a sea of smiling masked faces!
Bacolod is a quick 50-minute plane ride from Metro Manila. There’s also the option of taking an overnight ferry to Bacolod from Manila. Getting there is entirely up to you, depending on your budget and how much time you have. Once you get to the Bacolod-Silay Airport or the pier, hailing a taxi to take you to your hotel is easy.
The highlights of the festival are held on the 4th Sunday of every October. Most of the event’s highlights are held in and around the Bacolod Public Plaza. The big parties, crazy dancing, and lots of drinking will be on Lacson Street.
Public transportation in Bacolod is easy and fun with the multitude of options available. The cheapest way to get around, local-style, is by riding a jeepney. Pedicabs and tricycles can also be hired to take you to short distances. If you absolutely need to be in an air-conditioned vehicle, there are taxis and ride-sharing transport through the GrabTaxi app.
Keep in mind that during the MassKara Festival itself, many roads will be closed so be prepared to walk around. Use this as an opportunity to take in the sights of Bacolod. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Book a hotel in the city center of Bacolod. Backpacker and mid-range hotels are available here. Getting to the main area of the festivities will be easy from any point in the city center.
The locals of Bacolod know how to party. They’re some of the most hard-core party people in the Philippines, so for an awesome experience why not make friends with some locals and share a few drinks with them? In fact, some of the country’s most well-known brands of alcohol – Don Papa Rum, Bogsbrew Beer, and Federico’s Wine – all originated from Bacolod.
Bacolod’s rich history has been preserved in its many heritage homes, museums, and art galleries. And we hope you like to eat, because Bacolod is known for its terrific food too, both the savory and sweet varieties. After all, Bacolod IS the sugar bowl of the Philippines, so you’re in luck if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
MassKara Festival will be held from October 4 to October 24, 2018.
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