Christmas is one occasion that brings together people in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the Philippines, the festive mood starts as soon as the “Ber” months come in, with decorations being set up in private houses and villages, and public places like hotels, parks and other commercial establishments.
So have you decided already where to go on a holiday tour around the metro? Below are some of our suggested places that will make even the most cynical person believe in the spirit of Christmas.
Parks and Subdivisions
If you want to feast your eyes on a visual treat, head to Policarpio St., Brgy. New Zañiga in Mandaluyong City as a number of houses are decorated and designed especially for the Christmas season. The barangay has gained fame for its impressive display of houses decked with thousands of Christmas lights and ornaments. Night time has never been this bright! The public may visit the place and take pictures of the houses. Take a stroll and check out garage sales in some of the houses and cap the night with food and drinks at some food stalls along the street. Policarpio Street is open to the public from 6pm to midnight throughout the season.
Ayala Triangle Gardens
Christmas came early in Makati as the Festival of Lights at the Ayala Triangle was launched last November. Colored LED lights hang on trees, illuminating the whole garden. Now on its fifth year, the Festival of Lights continues to draw more people with the free musical light show comprised of three programs. Watch as the lights dance to the sound of jazz music in the first program, hear your heart thump with the beat of African drums for the second show, and feel the modern vibe of Christmas with electronic music at the final show. The program runs from 6pm to 10pm until January 4, 2016.
During December, malls are expected to be filled with shoppers rushing to buy gifts and souvenirs for loved ones. To relieve stress from the shopping rush during the holidays, take a breather and enjoy the glitzy sights and eye-catching decorations.
Gateway and Araneta Coliseum in Cubao
The lot fronting Araneta Coliseum transforms into a food market and entertainment venue at night during December. The giant Christmas tree adorned with lights and ornaments is a sight to behold. Food enthusiasts will enjoy the wide selection of Filipino, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines, along with street and novelty food offered in different food stalls in the area. Meanwhile, bands, choirs, dancers and other artists provide entertainment every night.
Amid the flurry of activities and shoppers frantically going around TutubanCenter located along C.M. Recto Avenue, Manila, the tallest Christmas tree in the metro is lighted every night. The 50-foot tall tree is located at the Tutuban Center Shopping Plaza and towers over all other buildings in the area. Surrounding the tree are shops, food stalls and a carnival, plus of course the famed Tutuban Center Night Market, to complete that family bonding and friends-shopping-together experience.
Power Plant Mall
If you want to see moving reindeers, head to Powerplant Mall in Makati. Children and adults alike flock to the Santa Claus and reindeer display inside the mall. No, there are no live reindeers but at least you get to see mechanical ones, complete with moving heads and mouths as if greeting passersby while a waving Santa Claus statue stands at the back.
Greenhills Shopping Center
If you are in San Juan City, particularly the Greenhills shopping district along Ortigas Avenue (just after La Salle Greenhills if you’re coming from EDSA), drop by Greenhills Shopping Center for the traditional lights and sounds show, the one that started originally in Cubao. The show features mechanical mannequins portraying events that happened during the birth of Jesus Christ, with matching social messages, too. The cute and life-like mannequins with matching electro-mechanical props are displayed atop the huge covered walkway leading up to the shopping center and is quite visible even from afar.
Entertainment centers and shows
Disney on Ice: Magical Ice Festival at Smart Araneta Coliseum
Bring your kids (and the kid in you) at Araneta Coliseum as well-loved characters come to life for a Disney-goodness-filled night. This year, the characters of Tangled and Frozen will join Disney princesses Ariel and Belle, together with their princes. In the past years, lucky children from the audience were invited by the performers to join them on the ice rink in some of the dances. This year, your kid might just be the lucky one to come up close and personal with their favorite Disney character! The show will run from December 25, 2015 to January 3, 2016.
Snow World at Star City
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? The closest to a white Christmas in the Philippines is a visit to Star City’s Snow World where the temperature is at -15 degrees Celsius. Bring your jacket or borrow jackets offered at the entrance. Inside the Snow World are ice sculptures, walls made of ice and an ice slide measuring 68 meters long.
Students and alumnae gather at the University of Santo Tomas once every December to celebrate the Paskuhan. This event is often celebrated with a Holy Mass, a re-enactment of events related to the birth of Jesus Christ, performances of bands, solo artists and intercollegiate choirs, and a glittering fireworks display. Students and university staff are treated to a wide banquet, while various snacks, meals and drinks can be bought from stalls surrounding the UST Grandstand. Other food options can also be found outside the walls of the campus. Just walk aroundDapitan, España and P.Noval Streets and you will surely never run out of restaurant choices. Although it is an event for Thomasians, friends and relatives may tag along. This year’s Paskuhan is slated on December 18.
UP Lantern Parade
Students from the University of the Philippines design and create floats and lanterns for the annual lantern parade held traditionally around the Academic Oval. Each float shows the creativity and resourcefulness of the students. A fireworks display marks the end of the event. The UP Lantern Parade is slated on December 14 and is open to the public.