Christmas Guide

Where to Go for Christmas in Iloilo: 6 Locations in the City of Love

Spend the holidays at the City of Love and these whimsical Christmas destinations.

By: Karen Bermejo | October 01, 2020
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Due to quarantine measures in place, some of these destinations might be temporarily closed or unavailable this year. Please coordinate with the management or local government before visiting.

where to go for christmas Iloilo

Check these colorful lanterns as you travel around the city at night.

Writer’s Photo

The moment you walk the streets of Iloilo City during these days, you can surely tell it is Christmas. More than 1,500 parols or colorful lanterns are lighting up the city streets at night. Interestingly, these lanterns are made by inmates of Iloilo City District Jail. This is one way of the Ilonggos’ to help those people deprived of liberty. It’s the season of giving, after all.

The Ilonggos also surely know how to celebrate the season. Proof of this is they never run out of places on where to go for Christmas in Iloilo. Both public and private institutions light up and open their spaces to allow families and friends to come together. If you’re spending the holidays in Iloilo, experience the warmth of the season the Ilonggo way and be in the know on where to go for Christmas in Iloilo.

1. Festival of Lights and Music at Central

Location: Central Philippine University, Lopez Jaena Street, Jaro, Iloilo City
Travel time: About 10 to 15 minutes from Iloilo City Proper
Recommended budget per person: PhP150


A majestic firework display is always anticipated during the Festival of Lights opening.

Image: Jun Paul Bernardo

One of the most anticipated activities every December are the switching on of lights and fireworks display at the Central Philippine University (CPU), one of the biggest schools in Iloilo. This year, it is on December 6. This marks the start of the yearly event dubbed as the Festival of Lights and Music at Central. Each year, the school’s premises, especially its university church, are covered with different colored lights. Food kiosks and even some apparel stores are also lined up along the Halfmoon Drive of the school during the celebration.

Aside from students, outsiders and even families come together to CPU to watch the lights while eating in the big field. A singing competition or sometimes even a battle of the bands is also part of the activity that usually last until the school’s Christmas break.

Tip: Travel to CPU a little earlier to avoid the traffic in the area during the opening of lights.

How to get to Central Philippine University: From Iloilo City Proper, take a Jaro CPU jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off in front of CPU.

2. Iwag Festival

Location: Pototan, Iloilo
Travel time: About 30 to 40 minutes from Tagbak Terminal in Iloilo City
Recommended budget per person: PhP500

christmas 2019

Crowds flock to the Municipal Plaza just to witness Iwag’s opening ceremony.

Image: Pototan Municipal Government

Pototan is not known as the Christmas Capital of Western Visayas for nothing. Every year, the town plaza is transformed into a little Christmas village covered with colorful lights during its yearly Iwag Festival of Lights. Even their streets are lined up with carefully designed lights. “Iwag” means to light in Karay-a dialect. This year’s festival will open on December 16.

Apart from the colorful display of characters in the plaza, visitors can also try their Ferris wheel and other carnival rides. Visitors will also enjoy the local delicacies and street foods of the town every night.

Tip: Visit Mapol’s Farm in Pototan in the afternoon before going to the lights display at the plaza in the evening.

How to get to Pototan, Iloilo: Take a jeepney from City Proper to Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. Then take a jeepney to the public plaza of Pototan.

3. Disyembre sa Guimbal

Location: Guimbal, Iloilo
Travel time: About 50 to 60 minutes from Iloilo City Terminal Market
Recommended budget per person: PhP500

places to spend christmas

There’s no dull moment in this town as they enjoy colorful lights this December.

Image: Karyll Caberoy

Now in its 44th year, it’s not hard to tell how successful the Disyembre sa Guimbal event of Guimbal, Iloilo is in showcasing the Christmas vibe to its residents and visitors. The activity which usually starts on the second week of December continues until the New Year. The festivity opens in a grandiose parade on the town’s major streets. Apart from the colorful decorations, visitors also check out the activity for the agro fair on during the daytime and the food festival at night.

Tip: While waiting for night time for the lights, visit other attractions in Guimbal during the day. You can rent a tricycle to visit the nearby Garin Farm, Guimbal Church, and Guimbal Moro Watchtower.

How to get to Guimbal, Iloilo: From the Iloilo City Terminal Market or “Super”, take the provincial jeep to the plaza of Guimbal, Iloilo.

4. Enchanted Forest of Lights

Location: Iloilo Business Park, Enterprise Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City
Travel time: About 10 to 15 minutes from Iloilo City Proper
Recommended budget per person: PhP500

places to visit for christmas

Take a photo at any of these giant installations scattered around Iloilo Business Park.

Writer’s photo

With its 40-foot Christmas tree, it’s not a surprise why people flock to the Iloilo Business Park at night. The giant Christmas tree is set up in front of Festive Mall and is the centerpiece of the Enchanted Forest of Lights installation at the township. Also part of the installation are 38 giant animals scattered outside the mall as well as along Festive Walk. The installations include giant cats, marine animals, and other characters that capture the attention of the spectators. Following the picture-taking with the installations, the options for food, drinks, or shopping are many at Iloilo Business Park.

Tip: During daytime, you can visit a museum, have a food trip, or stroll around the mall while waiting for the lights to turn on.

How to get to Iloilo Business Park: From City Proper, take a Mandurriao jeepney and get off in front of Festive Mall.

5. Iloilo Capitol Lights

Location: Iloilo Provincial Capitol, New Iloilo Provincial Capitol Building, Muelle Loney Street, Iloilo City Proper, Iloilo City
Travel time: About 5 from Iloilo City Proper
Recommended budget per person: PhP50

christmas destinations

The Iloilo Provincial Capitol looks more inviting at night this Christmas.

Image: Dr. Raul Banias

The main seat of the province also doesn’t miss the chance to show off every year. By the end of November to the New Year, the façade of the gigantic Iloilo Provincial Capitol is fully covered with lights. Also part of this year’s decoration of the Iloilo Capitol Lights, which was officially lit last December 2, are the murals at the gate of the capitol. It’s surely a sight to behold for every person passing the area. Aside from its exterior, the interior of the capitol is also Instagram-worthy.

Tip: You can also visit the newly rehabilitated Regional Museum of Iloilo just beside the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.

How to get to Iloilo Provincial Capitol: It’s hard to miss the capitol as it sits in the city center. You can take Jaro CPU, Jaro Liko, Jaro Tagbak, or La Paz jeepney and get off at the entrance of the capitol.

Spending the holidays in Iloilo this year? Yoorekka has all the best places to explore in the city!

6. Angelicum School

Location: McArthur Drive in Tabuc Suba, Jaro, Iloilo City
Travel time: About 15 to 20 minutes from Iloilo City Proper
Recommended budget per person: PhP100

where to go for christmas Iloilo

Angelicum shows off a facade of a palace-like mansion-turned school in Iloilo.

Image: Rubet Balibol Gabo

Another favorite attraction in Iloilo City during the Christmas season is the Lizares Mansion which houses the Angelicum School. The façade of this school in Tabuc Suba, Jaro is fully adorned with luminous lights. With its palace-like façade, the school doesn’t fail to invite visitors. Fortunately for visitors, they are allowed on the school to take snapshots of its beauty.

Tip: Traffic at the area near the school usually gets heavy during rush hours. Arrive at the school before 5:00 PM to avoid the heavy traffic.

How to get to Angelicum School: From City Proper, take a Jaro Liko-NFA or Jaro Liko Tagbak jeepney and get off in front of the school along the highway.

As Christmas nears, your wish to enjoy the city will surely happen by visiting any of these places to celebrate. With family and friends, you will surely feel the Christmas spirit on these activities and places both in Iloilo city and province.

This article was originally published in Yoorekka on December 05, 2019.
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About Karen Bermejo
Karen writes to earn a living, tell stories and promote her advocacies. She’s a traveler and a volunteer. Her adventurous soul makes her more comfortable to sleep on the couch of a stranger than pay bucks for accommodation. Her ultimate dream is to travel the world, master a foreign language and learn how to swim. To keep her sanity while chasing her dreams, she chases waterfalls on weekends.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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