Bacolod’s Maskara Festival

Vibrant. Colorful. Exciting. These are just some of the words that travelers have used to the annual Maskara Festival in the city of Bacolod in the Philippines. Up to this point in time, I have only read about the Maskara Festival in Bacolod in articles and heard about it from friends that have had the privilege of taking part in this Philippine festival. I’ve resolved this year, I will experience this colorful festival in the Philippines first-hand by taking a trip to the city of Bacolod and witness it. Boy! I can’t wait!

Mask at Bacolod's MassKara Festival

Flickr Creative Commons photo by George Putong

The Philippines’ Mardi Gras

Hailed as the Philippines’ very own Mardi Gras, Bacolod’s Maskara Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, attracting Filipinos living in different parts of the Philippines and travelers visiting the Philippines.

Bacolod’s Maskara Festival is held during the weekend closest to October 19th—the date of the anniversary of the Charter Inauguration in the city of Bacolod. This year, this vibrant festival in the Philippines will kick off on October 14 with the Electric MaskaraParade held along the Lacson Tourism Strip. It will then be followed by a 2-day street dancing competition to be participated by different schools and organizations in the city.

History of Bacolod’s Maskara Festival

The Maskara Festival started back in 1980 when the city of Bacolod was gripped by tragedy and crisis. Sorrow and grief consumed the residents living in Bacolod at that time. Ironically, the city of Bacolod has been known as the City of Smiles in the Philippines.

Because of this, artists, government officials and civic groups within the city of Bacolod decided to come up with what they called festival of smiles to uplift the spirits of the locals. Ely Santiago came up with the name of this Filipino festival by joining together the word mass (which means “many” or “a multitude of people”) and the Spanish word cara (which means “face”).

Festival of Masks in the Philippines

The festival’s name is also based on the Filipino word maskara, which means mask. It’s no surprising then that the main focus of this Filipino festival is the wide array of vibrant and beautiful masks with wide smiles. Even today, the amount of detail that is seen in every mask used by the participants in this colorful festival in the Philippines is just absolutely astounding. They are a perfect example of Filipino artistry and excellence. And to think the most I’ve seen of these masks are in photos. I can just imagine when I finally get to the city of Bacolod and see these up close. Good thing that they sell masks during the festival. These would make great souvenirs, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on one (or two) to hang on my bedroom wall.

Experience MasKara Festival, Hermosa Festival and Lanzones Festival this October. Airphil Express flies daily to BACOLOD, ZAMBOANGA and CAGAYAN DE ORO from Cebu and Manila. Visit www.airphilexpress.com to book!

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About Adeline Yuboco

A natural-born foodie with an eye for detail, I started Life and Leisure to be a place where I can share on how to travel and live in style within your means. At the same time, I cover various events for DigitalJournal.com where I'm a contributing journalist. If you got a great story idea or have an event you'd like me to cover, drop me an email at the Contact page, message me on Twitter, or Connect with me on


  1. i was looking for bacolod blogs and your site came up first on google search. thank you for sharing this.im wondering if it would be okay with you… i would like to show this to our editor if we can feature in our local magazine.

  2. Very good written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who employess it, including me. Keep up the good work – can’r wait to read more posts.

  3. Wow this sure looks like a very colorful and exciting festival. Does these masks represent cultural art? You must be excited to get your hands on a mast :) Have fun when you go there!
    Be sure to check out Shamis’s most recent post…Durian – The World’s Stinkiest FruitMy Profile

    • Shamis, some of them do. Others are more modern and resemble the ones that they use in mardi gras. Yup, I’m sooo excited to get one (or two). Already got a place in my bedroom reserved just for it. :)

  4. Hi, Adeline!
    I always enjoyed festivals under masks, although I’ve never been to this particular one. In fact, I’ve never been to Philippines so far, actually. The tradition of the masks was, if I am not mistaken first started with the Venice festivals?Or if I am wrong about it-anyway, the Venice one is the most popular one in Europe.
    There is always something magic and mysterious with the masks-as you said for yourself, it is colorful and exciting. Also, it is very different than any other kind of festival-maybe that’s the beauty of it…being unique in so many ways.:)
    Be sure to check out Kristina L.’s most recent post…Guthy Renker Coupon CodeMy Profile

  5. The Maskara Festival would be a great reason to travel. I also have never been to Mardi Gras, but I think this Festival looks so vibrant and colorful it would be a must see.

  6. i would like to be at such festival
    thanks for your interesting post :)

  7. Wow awesome post! I am actually from Bacolod City and I’ve been experiencing this amazing festival for 3 years straight now. It’s beautiful, fun and amazing! Definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet. It’s one of a kind. :D Can’t wait for Oct.14-16 that’s the date of the street party. :D
    Be sure to check out Pj Zafra’s most recent post…Sean’s Thoughts For the Week Ahead-5My Profile

    • Thanks for dropping by PJ!

      I’m glad that my post did justice to such an awesome festival. It is definitely one of the must-sees for anyone planning to visit the Philippines this time of the year.

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