Kalibo, Aklan | 3rd Week of January
The name Ati-Atihan means “make-believe Atis. ” It has been known as the wildest among Philippine fiestas. The Ati-Atihan is a festival in honor of the Santo Niño. During the last three days of this week-long festival (fiesta), a parade is characteristic. A colorful happening with celebrants who paint their faces in many different ways and who are dressed in the most outstanding costumes.
The Ati-Atihan festival is named after the Ati, the indigenous natives of the island before the arrival of the Malay in the 10th century and the Spanish in the 16th century.
The festival is held on the third week of January every year on the second Sunday after Epiphany in Kalibo in the Aklan province on the island of Panay. The festival is to rejoice the arrival or gift of the Santo Niño by Magellan to the native Queen of Cebu in 1521 and is manifested by hyperactive merriment on the streets. The dancing on the rhythms of the drums makes this festival very similar to the Mardi Gras celebration in Rio in Brazil.
ATI-ATIHAN is one of the greatest, most colorful and fun festivals. Its nickname, “The Filipino Mardis Gras” and takes place the 3rd weekend in January every year in Kalibo, Aklan, Panay Island,
Philippines. Iloilo and many other smaller towns on Panay Island also party the festivals during the weekends from mid-January to early February so if you miss the Kalibo festival you could still experience fun elsewhere. The informality of the festival is what makes it so terrific and allows everyone to participate, dance, beat on a drum or just take photos while in the middle of the tribal groups. The groups include all age groups – another wonderful aspect of the festival. Some of the most creative costumes distinct to the tribal themes are displayed by a few of the local gays. The festival includes every local group in Aklan with a unique tribal tradition, various civic or commercial organizations and individuals that create new costumes every year.