Every February, the Summer Capital of the Philippines, also known as City of Pines, transforms into a City of Flowers -- are you heading up north to celebrate its season of blooming?
Known for its pleasant cool climate in contrast to the common scorching heat of Metro Manila during summer, Baguio is one of the most famous cities in the Philippines and is celebrated as the country's Summer Capital. Held in February every year since 1995 is Panagbenga, also known as the Baguio Flower Festival, and it's a five-week long celebration filled with many activities open to the public, celebrating the season when flowers blossom.
Panagbenga kicks off with a Grand Opening Parade on the first day of the month, and other events like concerts, exhibits, contests, trade fairs, and pageants line up the month afterward. The fiesta's main event happens on the last Saturday and Sunday of February, with the much awaited Grand Street Festival Dance Parade and the Grand Flower Float Parade. On March 6th, 2016, they will close the festival with a Grand Fireworks Display. It is always an explosion of colors, music, happy visitors, and fanfare -- it's a must to take lots of pictures and head to the event grounds earlier to secure your best unobstructed view of the parades.
Where: Panagbenga Festival, Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines
Getting There: Gas up your car for a roadrip, or take Victory Liner or Genesis Bus in Cubao--it would take 5-6 hours to reach Baguio from Metro Manila. Depending on the bus company, fares should start at P450 a person.
Tip: For Panagbenga, be in Bagiuo at least one day ahead of the main event, and as it's the city's most popular fiesta -- expect heavy traffic, so arrive at the event grounds earlier. It'll be packed and busy, so bring all necessities with you: water, snacks, cameras and battery packs; don't forget wear your comfiest clothing and shoes. Before or after the festivities, take time to shop for some pasalubong -- Baguio boasts of many delectable delicacies as varied as its blooms. Here's a shortlist of goodies to check out: fresh or preserved strawberries, Good Shepherd peanut brittle and ube, chocolate crinkles, Mikasan choco flakes, and Baguio Country Club's raisin bread.