Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival is celebrated on the fourth week of January, right after Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan and Cebu’s Sinulog. The word “Dinagyang” comes from the Ilonggo word “dagyang,” which means “to make happy.” This annual tradition honors the Christianization of the natives and pays tribute to Señor Sto. Niño. Locals believe that the Holy Child Jesus performs miracles, especially during times of famine and drought, and this festival serves as a way to praise and thank Him.
During Dinagyang, the streets of Iloilo come alive with music, drumbeats, dancing, and merrymaking. The event not only showcases Iloilo’s unique culture, but also the people’s warm and welcoming spirit. Festivities start with a fluvial procession along the Iloilo River on Friday, followed by a cultural parade on Saturday. Finally, the dancers showcase their skills and perform in front of a panel of judges in the Tribes Dance Competition.
In order to have a grand celebration, the Ilonggos start preparing for the event many months in advance. They choreograph and rehearse their routines, design their props, practice putting on their makeup, and create elaborate costumes for the main event.
But it’s not just the performers who are busy preparing for the festivities. Local business owners also go all out when it comes to the Dinagyang Festival. A number of successful entrepreneurs and businesses sponsor groups of dancers or “tribes” as a way to give back to the community and advertise their products. Business owners also want to make sure that tourists feel welcome and have a great experience in the city. Restaurants offer discounted meals, retail stores sell Dinagyang-related merchandise, and hotels give great rates for festival goers.
Grand Xing Imperial Hotel in Iloilo City is excited to take part in the festivities. Now on its third year of operation, the hotel lives up to its motto, “Luxury you can afford.” Since it’s located at the heart of the city, it’s an ideal place to stay if you want to get the full festival experience. Grand Xing is offering a 4-days-and-3-nights package for two, which includes full access to its amenities, buffet breakfast, complimentary drinks, a 10-percent discount at the GX Himalayan Salt Spa, and a Dinagyang souvenir.
To make the experience even more memorable, Grand Xing also prepared a series of fun events. “There is a street side music fest with lots of barbecue of your choice just in front of our hotel,” says Grand Xing Marketing Head Kent Armel Jaragbas. “We also have a photo booth to capture your memories of the festival, and we will be selling Dinagyang goodies.”
The fun doesn’t stop there, especially for those who love to party till dawn. “From January 24 to 27, our very own Empire Lounge will bring the party to Pier 95 at the second floor, East Wing,” adds Jaragbas. The events include Sunset Sessions and Heineken Night, featuring various DJs and performers.
As one of Iloilo’s premiere hotels, Grand Xing makes it a point to stay connected to its customers through various online platforms. “Facebook is our main platform in attracting guests to our hotel,” relates Jaragbas. “It’s just a click away and it’s hassle-free.” As of this writing, the hotel’s Facebook page has over 16,000 followers and over 7,000 recommendations and reviews. Grand Xing also has an Instagram account, which showcases the hotel’s sumptuous food and lovely interiors.
Thanks to local businesses like Grand Xing who are ready to welcome guests, people who come to enjoy the festivities will have nothing to worry about. All you have to do is go out into the streets and dance the day (and night) away!
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*Photos from Grand Xing Hotel
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