ati-atihan festival
Source: Wikipedia

Ati-Atihan Festival: A One-Of-A-Kind Celebration

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The Ati-Atihan Festival refers to an annual colorful and lively celebration in Kalibo, Philippines. It celebrates the Ati people, indigenous inhabitants of the island, and their cultural traditions and way of life. 

The festival also honors the Santo Niño, the child Jesus. On top of that, it serves as a way for the Ati people to give thanks for blessings. During the festival, they ask for continued protection and guidance as well. 

If you’ve been wondering about the festival, we did the research for you. In this post, we’ll talk about the beautiful Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan. 

Ati-Atihan Festival Description

The Ati-Atihan Festival honors the indigenous Ati people of the Philippine island of Panay and their cultural traditions. People celebrate it in the town of Kalibo, and serves as a way for the Ati people to give thanks for their blessings and to ask for continued protection and guidance. 

The festival also celebrates the Santo Niño, the child Jesus. Additionally, it allows the Ati people to celebrate their faith and cultural heritage.

The festival features an energetic and lively atmosphere. It also boasts unique and elaborate costumes, often inspired by indigenous Ati culture. 

During the Ati-Atihan Festival, people dress in costumes, paint their faces and bodies, and dance to the beat of traditional drums. 

The Ati-Atihan Festival brings together elements of religion, culture, and entertainment and is a must-see event for anyone visiting the Philippines. It is a truly one-of-a-kind celebration that attracts visitors from around the world.

Ati-Atihan Festival Place of Origin

The Ati-Atihan Festival has its roots in the indigenous Ati people of the Philippine island of Panay. 

The Ati are the island’s original inhabitants and possess a rich cultural heritage and tradition passed down through the generations. Hence, the Ati-Atihan Festival celebrates this heritage and serves as a way for the Ati people to honor their history and cultural traditions.

Filipinos celebrate the Ati-Atihan Festival, held annually in the town of Kalibo on the island of Panay. The town boasts beautiful beaches and stunning natural surroundings. Many people also see it as a popular tourist destination in the Philippines.

Interestingly, the Ati-Atihan Festival serves as one of the main events in Kalibo and attracts visitors from all over the country and beyond.

The Ati-Atihan Festival celebrates faith, culture, and community. During this time, the Ati people and locals come together. They celebrate their heritage and traditions and share their culture. 

The festival also plays an essential role in the Ati people’s history and identity. It also serves as a source of pride and joy for the community. Lastly, the festival’s deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the Ati people and is an integral part of life on the island of Panay.

Ati-Atihan Festival Costume Description

ati-atihan festival costume description
Source: Daily Guardian

One of the most distinctive and memorable aspects of the Ati-Atihan Festival is the elaborate and colorful costumes worn by participants. These costumes serve as a way for people to honor and celebrate the indigenous Ati culture.

The Ati-Atihan Festival costumes often take inspiration from traditional Ati clothing. They feature bright colors and intricate patterns.

Participants may wear costumes made of cloth or other materials like feathers, beads, and other decorative elements. The locals also usually make the costumes by hand. As a result, it takes weeks or even months to create the said costumes.

In addition to traditional Ati costumes, participants may also wear costumes inspired by other cultural traditions. They can also wear costumes meant to be playful and fun. 

People let loose and have a good time during the festival, and Ati-Atihan Festival costumes play a huge role in this.

Overall, the Ati-Atihan Festival costumes serve as testaments to the creativity and ingenuity of the Ati people. They’re also integral to the celebration. Lastly, they serve as a visual feast for the eyes and a festival highlight for participants and spectators.

What Does the Term Ati-Atihan Mean?

The term “Ati-Atihan” comes from the Hiligaynon language spoken in Panay, where the festival takes place. 

It specifically came from the words “Ati,” referring to the indigenous Ati people of the island, and “Atihan,” meaning “to make a noise” or “to make a commotion.”

The term “Ati-Atihan” captures the spirit of this celebration, during which the Ati people come together and make a joyful noise in honor of their culture and traditions.

What Do the Participants Shout in the Ati-Atihan Festival?

what do the participants shout in the ati-atihan festival
Source: Culture Trip

During the Ati-Atihan Festival, participants often shout phrases such as “Hala Bira!” and “Viva Señor Santo Niño!” 

People shout these phrases as part of traditional dances. The phrases also serve as a way for participants to show their enthusiasm and excitement.

“Hala Bira!”, a phrase commonly shouted during the Ati-Atihan Festival, comes from the Hiligaynon language. It means “Let’s go crazy!” or “Let’s party!”. It also expresses joy and excitement during the celebration.

On the other hand, “Viva Señor Santo Niño!” shows devotion to the Santo Niño, the child Jesus. He’s the patron saint of the Ati people and is central to the festival. 

The phrase means, “Long live the Lord Santo Niño!”. It honors and celebrates the faith of Jesus’ followers. 

Overall, the phrases shouted during the Ati-Atihan Festival serve as a way for participants to express joy and enthusiasm. It also shows their devotion and serves as an essential part of the celebration.

Ati-Atihan Is a Festival Celebrated In Which Province?

The Ati-Atihan is a festival celebrated in the province of Aklan. The festival is held annually in the town of Kalibo, the province’s capital. The town is located on the island’s northwest coast and is known for its beautiful beaches and stunning natural surroundings.

You can find the Aklan province in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. The festival attracts visitors from all over the country and beyond. If you want to visit the Philippines, you must see this festival.

Ati-Atihan Festival Place: Kalibo Delicacies

Kalibo is not just famous for its amazing beaches. You can also try a lot of fantastic food during the Ati-Atihan Festival.

Here are delicacies in Kalibo worth trying: 

1. ati-atihan festival Inubarang Manok

inubarang manok
Source: The Fat Kid Inside

It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the core of a banana stalk, known as ubad, can be a tasty ingredient when cooked in coconut milk. 

When combined with native chicken, gata, and lemongrass, you get a stew-like dish with thick and flavorful soup. 

The traditional Philippine coconut milk or gata adds a rich and distinct taste to the dish. Meanwhile, the chicken becomes tender and succulent as it cooks. 

Lastly, lemongrass or tanglad adds a refreshing hint of tanginess to the overall flavor profile. This dish will delight your senses with its satisfying blend of flavors and textures.

2. ati-atihan festival Binakoe or Binakol

binakoe or binakol
Source: Kawaling Pinoy

Binakoe refers to a traditional dish cooked inside a new bamboo node. It involves native chicken, onions, lemongrass, and aeabihig leaves as the main ingredients. 

The aeabihig leaves provide a souring agent, giving the dish a flavor profile similar to sinigang, a famous soup in the Philippines. 

This dish appeal to those with Tagalog palates, as it features flavors and ingredients commonly found in the region. 

When served with a hot plate of rice and an ice-cold soda, a steaming bowl of binakoe makes for the perfect lunch. Combining the warm and savory dish with the refreshing beverage will also satisfy your appetite and refresh your senses.

3. ati-atihan festival Inday Inday

inday inday
Source: Youtube

This simple dessert features sticky rice flour or malagkit, cooked in hot water. As a result, it produces a soft and chewy patty. 

Then, cooks top it with a sweet and flavorful mixture of bucayo. Bucayo refers to gelatinous coconut meat simmered in water, muscovado sugar, and coconut milk. 

This results in a beautiful blend of textures and tastes, with the sticky rice flour patty’s smooth and blandness contrasting the rich and sweet topping. Combining these flavors and textures makes for a delightful and satisfying dessert.

4. ati-atihan festival Linapay or Tinamuk

linapay or tinamuk
Source: Facebook

This wonderful dish has similarities to two other dishes found in Camalig, Albay, and best enjoyed during the Ibalong Festival: pinangat and inolukan. 

The main difference between these dishes lies in the filling. In this dish, cooks wrap ueang (pounded freshwater shrimp), and gawud (young coconut meat) in gutaw (taro) leaves. Then, they cook it in coconut milk. 

Like the Bicol equivalent, the dish becomes rich due to the gata (coconut milk) ‘s rich flavor and the taro leaves’ earthy taste. The dish becomes more flavorful and spicy when cooks add sliced peppers to it.

5. ati-atihan festival Latik


This native delicacy delightfully combines different textures and flavors. It mainly features suman, a type of kakanin in the Philippines

Cooks make suman by cooking glutinous rice. They then top the suman with grated coconut and latik, a watery caramelized sugar. 

Then, the cooks wrap the suman in banana leaves. Next, they steam it. Unlike the traditional elongated suman this bite-sized version measures around three inches long. You can buy these treats at local markets or the pasalubong center at the Kalibo airport.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ati-Atihan festival celebrated for?

Ati-Atihan Festival is celebrated in honor of the Infant Jesus, the town’s patron. The event primarily honors the Child Jesus. Ati-atihan means “making like Atis”. The participants also imitate the Ati people, the aboriginal natives that once inhabited Aklan.

What type of festival is Ati-Atihan?

Ati-Atihan is a type of cultural festival. It features a week-long street celebration in the Philippines, similar to Mardi Gras. The event takes place in Kalibo, Aklan. The festival also boasts boisterous and lively events from dawn to dusk. 
Additionally, the festivities peak on the third Sunday of January. The celebration honors Santo Niño, an image of the infant Jesus, and combines religious traditions with a secular atmosphere.

Is Ati-Atihan a religious festival?

Yes, the Ati-Atihan is a religious festival. However, the Ati-Atihan festival originates from a pagan celebration held in honor of the Ati, a group of indigenous people who practiced animism and worshipped their anito gods. 
Spanish missionaries eventually added a Christian aspect to the festival. Nowadays, people hold the festival as a religious event. It has evolved, but its roots in ancient traditions can still be seen in how people celebrate it.

Where and when is Ati-Atihan celebrated?

The Ati-Atihan festival is held in Kalibo, Aklan, on the island of Panay, Philippines. The event honors Santo Niño, the Holy Child or Infant Jesus. Ati-Atihan takes place on the third Sunday of January every year.

How do Filipinos celebrate Ati-Atihan?

Filipinos celebrate Ati-Atihan through religious processions and street parades. The parades showcase floats with various themes, dancing groups in colorful costumes, marching bands, and people who painted their faces and bodies. These elements combine to create a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

What makes Ati-Atihan festival unique?

What makes the Ati-Atihan Festival unique is its extraordinary costumes and huge events. The event also features the rhythmic beating of drums and traditional street dancing. 
It’s also known as the mother of all Philippine festivals. Additionally, it’s one of the biggest, most colorful, and festive celebrations in honor of Santo Niño. 


The Ati-Atihan Festival celebrates faith, culture, and community. Held annually in Kalibo, Aklan, the event celebrates the indigenous Ati people who first inhabited the island. 

The festival also features elaborate costumes, traditional dance, and local delicacies. It is an essential part of the Ati people’s identity and a celebration of their rich cultural heritage.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bags and join the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo to enjoy this one-of-a-kind festival! 


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