masskara festival
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MassKara Festival: The Ultimate Guide

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  • Post last modified:September 12, 2022
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In this article, we will talk about the event, the origin of MassKara Festival, Masskara Festival design, and Masskara Festival description. We will also talk about the stunning Masskara Festival mask, Masskara Festival costume, and Masskara Festival place of origin. The MassKara Festival in Bacolod City is one of the biggest and most prestigious events in the Philippines. 

Interestingly, the festival has been giving both domestic and international visitors the great time they deserve. They get to have fun, drink, and party on the streets of Bacolod for more than 30 years now. 

But what’s exactly the fuss about? Why do people love the event so much? Let’s find out.

What Is MassKara Festival?

what is masskara festival
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The term originated from the words ‘mass’ which translates to crowd and ‘kara’ which translates to face. Hence, MassKara means masks for many faces or the crowd. 

The Art Association of Bacolod (AAB) conceptualized the event. Originally, the association intended to organize a creative, attention-grabbing street dance parade.

By doing this, the festival gives people the chance to get away from a civic-military parade. It also meant that the masks can hide the tears and sorrows caused by the MV Don Juan sea mishap and the sugar crisis.

The event features people wearing smiling masks, spectacularly colorful costumes, and special accessories. Moreover, the participants parade and dance on the streets of Bacolod. Through all of these, the event conveys a message about being happy despite facing many challenges in life. 

During the festivities in October, the streets of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental become a sight for one of the happiest festivals in the country.

Dancers sway their hearts away. All of them wear masks and people from all walks of life gather on the streets to see them. The spectacular display of mastery, coordination, and colorful Masskara Festival design often leaves people in awe. 

Origin of MassKara Festival   

origin of masskara festival
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If you’ve been to Bacolod City, you may already know a thing or two about the origin of MassKara Festival.

But if you want to know more about this amazing festival, we got some interesting information for you. In this section, we will talk more about the origin of  MassKara Festival. 

In a gist, the event started during a time of crisis and disaster in the 1980s. Interestingly, the crisis itself also gave birth to the festival. 

During this time, the international prices for sugar, Negros Occidental’s monocrop and main source of livelihood drastically decreased. Due to this, two artists had the idea of making masks as their alternative source of income. They also thought that the locals can make masks, so they, too, can earn money from them.

However, the locals hesitated. They thought that the masks would not sell, mainly because people did not have enough money to buy such not-much needed thins. 

Thus, former Bacolod Mayor Jose Montalvo thought of having a mask festival instead. With the Art Association of Bacolod’s input, the first-ever mask event occured.

Unfortunately, a tragic ferry accident then happened. The MV Don Juan sank in the same. The ferry mostly carried people from the province including members of the most prominent families of Bacolod. Due to these incidents, a big question arose: Should the festival proceed? 

Luckily, it did. Since then, the event has been bringing joy to residents and local and international tourists.

Yes, the origin of MassKara Festival may have been tragic events, but the event itself continues to bring joy to thousands of people every year. 

Read Philippine Festival Guides by HICAPS

Masskara Festival Design

masskara festival design
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Contrary to popular belief, a masked event in Italy significantly influenced the mask. The festival, known as the Carnal of Venice came back to tradition in 1979. 

The said festival honored the victor of Venice in 1162 with the war against Ulrico di Treven, a Patriarch of Aquileia.

However, the mask used in the MassKara festival design was originally made by the Filipino natives.

Later on, the Masskara Festival design adopted the influence of the mask design from the Carnal of Venice to celebrate smiling faces.

In addition, the MassKara Festival design perfectly represented the city’s vibrant environment. It also effectively hid the gloominess of the tragedies. In addition, the festival honored the locals with a huge smile, thanks to the happy and smiling masks.

Moreover, there are several fascinating designs used in the festival costume. However, contrary to popular belief, the costume did not originally have historical or native representation 

The concept of the MassKara Festival design used in the costume by groups joining the event was added to put some contrast or unity to the costumes they wore. 

In addition, the overall MassKara Festival design depends on the creativity and imagination of the artists. Some designs contrast with the mask’s design. The artists did this to compensate and allow the mask to stand out more. 

Masskara Festival Description

masskara festival description
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If you’re wondering about the MassKara Festival description, you’re in the right place.  The term came from the words ‘mass’ which translates to crowd and ‘kara’ which translates to face. Hence, MassKara means masks for many faces or the crowd. The term also translates to the Festival of Many Faces. 

When talking about the MassKara Festival description, we have to discuss the masks first. 

It’s because they’re the first thing people notice. 

The designs on these masks or maskara in Filipino, are continually changing. From native Filipino designs to ones derived from the Carnival of Venice and Rio Carnival, MassKara Festival design has come a long way. 

Another highlight of the MassKara Festival description involves the street dance. During this event, groups of dancers from various communities compete with each other by showing off their most impressive dance routines. 

In addition, the street dancing competition includes attention-grabbing colorful costumes and masks. Dancers wear them and often move to the rhythm of Filipino or Latin music.

Moreover, event-goers look forward to the Electric MassKara. As another most awaited event, this one features dancers wearing masks with colorful lights. The said event gets held at night, so people can see the lights well. 

Street parties are also the biggest attraction of the said event. Aside from the dance contests, Masskaraland also brings many tourists to the city. 

During this event, partygoers can enjoy the festive parties. A countdown, which starts in the afternoon, also gets enjoyed by the crowd. In addition, differently colored powder gets thrown up into the air so the participants get doused with them.

Other major events of the MassKara Festival description include the beauty pageant, food competitions, carnivals, drum competitions, bugle corps contents, sports events, trade fairs, musical concerts, garden shows, and many more. 

To further explain the MassKara Festival description, major roads during the events get closed to make way for both participants and visitors. During this period, the public gets advised to take note of the road closures to avoid delays, accidents, and confusion.

Masskara Festival Mask

masskara festival mask
Source: Canva

To lift the spirits of the locals and bring back the smiles on their faces, the festivities got created. The smiling masks became a declaration of the locals in Bacolod City. This declaration involved their will to pull through and overcome the challenges they faced. It also included their will to become happy again after the tragedies of the province. 

The Arts Association of Bacolod-Negros, led by Mr. Rodney Martinez, conducted workshops around Negros Occidental. The group taught the residents how to make beautiful masks. The said masks back then got made from paper mâché and coconut husks.

Originally, these masks got created to be sold to tourists. They were meant to be souvenirs tourists can bring back home with them. By doing this, the organization thought that the locals can generate some income. 

However, this did not go well. Some masks sold, but not most sellers did not get enough money from them. Hence, the organization decided to conceptualize a festival instead. 

Masskara Festival Costume

masskara festival costume
Source: Canva

When you join the event, you’ll get to see vibrant and stunning designs of the Masskara Festival costume. 

In addition, the MassKara Festival mask is just as colorful as ever. Thus, it makes sense that the MassKara Festival costume becomes colorful, too. 

Depending on the creativity of the artist, a MassKara Festival costume either compliments or contrasts the mask. 

Nowadays, local shops sell affordable costumes. They also allow anyone to rent a MassKara festival costume during the event.

As expected, the MassKara Festival costume sales skyrocket before and during the event. You can even see people trying to fit the MassKara Festival costume in their bags, so they can bring it home. 

Masskara Festival Place of Origin

masskara festival place of origin
Source: Canva

Bacolod, a city on the northwest coast of the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines celebrates the said event.

It is held on the fourth Sunday of October annually. The festival serves as a tribute to joy. It also represents the resilience the people of Negros Occidental had during the most severe tragedies. 

So if you’re wondering about the MassKara Festival place of origin, you got the answer right there.

The MassKara Festival place of origin is in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Interestingly, the MassKara Festival place of origin is also called the ‘City of Smiles’. This tagline was mainly based on the amazing event. Since the event gets filled with smiling masks every year, the MassKara Festival place of origin, Bacolod City became known as the  ‘City of Smiles’. 

Moreover, the sheer joy people find in the MassKara Festival place of origin is unbeatable. For this reason, October is the best time of the year to visit Bacolod. 

The week-long event features many festivities like street dance competitions, food contests, concerts, and trade fairs.

However, at the start of October, you can already see the signs of the upcoming festival. Vendors already set up stalls and mini parades occur. You can also see beautiful decorations on many streets.

In addition, you can find huge crowds in several places, especially stalls and restaurants.  

Though the MassKara Festival place of origin officially holds the event on the fourth Sunday of October, the festivities begin around the first week of October.

You also get to experience over 20 days’ worth of street dancing, musicians playing, eating, and drinking. Since this festival is one of the most vibrant festivals in the Philippines, the month-long party attracts thousands of visitors.

Regardless of what the locals have been through and regardless of what situation they’re currently in, the festival shows that they can make it. The festival also shows the sincere belief of the locals― them being capable of conquering anything.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we celebrate MassKara Festival?

People celebrate the MassKara Festival to uplift the spirits of locals. They originally celebrated the event because of two main tragedies― a ferry accident and the collapse of sugar prices in the 1980s. 

What is MassKara dance festival?

MassKara Dance Festival is a yearly event held every fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod City, Philippines. The event features dancers wearing colorful masks, costumes, and headdresses.

What is the characteristic of MassKara Festival?

The main feature of the event is its street dance competition. The competition showcases dancers in smiling masks and colorful costumes. 


For the following years after its inception, the said event has been continuously showing residents and tourists pure joy. 

The festivities, concerts, competitions, fairs, and all other forms of celebrations may sometimes remind us of the tragedies that caused them. However, these tragedies gave birth to an amazing festival that thousands of people go to. 

Indeed, the event embodies the City of Smiles and vice versa. Partaking in such an amazing festival gives anyone experiences worth remembering. 

What do you think about the origin of MassKara Festival, Masskara Festival design, and Masskara Festival description? Did you get amazed by the stunning Masskara Festival mask, Masskara Festival costume, and Masskara Festival place of origin? Let us know by commenting below!

Do you want to know the other popular festivals in this beautiful country of ours? Well, then read our article “Famous Philippine Festivals: Highlights and Pasalubong“.

Other Popular Philippine Festivals


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