The MassKara Festival is an annual festival held in Bacolod, Philippines, culminating on the fourth Sunday in October. It takes place on October 23 this year. As one of the nation’s biggest festivals, it’s been known as a time for locals and foreigners to have fun, drink, and party on the city streets for over 40 years. Starting in 1980, the MassKara Festival was born out of a crisis and tragedy when the prices of sugar, the primary livelihood source, were at an all-time low. Besides this, a tragic ferry incident happened this year, and the MassKara Festival was held to lift the spirit of the locals.
History of Masskara Festival
The MassKara Festival started in 1980 during the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The prices of sugar, the province’s main agricultural crop and livelihood source, were at a record low following the introduction of sugar alternatives into the market. Consequently, two artists came up with the idea of promoting mask making as an alternative source of income for the locals. In the same year, a tragic ferry incident occurred — the MV Don Juan sank, resulting in the deaths of many people from the province. The MassKara Festival was then created to bring back smiles and uplift the locals’ spirits during those difficult times.
The smiling masks used in the festival were a declaration of Bacolod locals’ resilience in the face of challenges and tragedy, prompting the city to become known as the “City of Smiles.” The festival name is a portmanteau of the words ‘mass’ (many) and ‘kara’ (faces), thus forming ‘MassKara,’ or the Festival of Many Faces. Before the festival, the masks were sold to tourists as the province’s signature souvenirs. Since the celebration’s inception, however, the smiling masks have become a symbol of the exciting festival.
The highlight of the MassKara Festival is a dance competition, where participants don colorful costumes and vibrant, smiling masks and dance to Latin music. Besides this, there is Bacolod’s biggest street party, Electric MassKara. As the most awaited festival event, this night parade features LED-lit dancers, bands, and floats. Other activities include the MassKara Festival Queen beauty pageant, food festivals, and float parade. The festival, flooded by locals and tourists, is renowned for its colorful decorations and masks.
Masskara Festival timeline
Sugar prices plunge to a record low.
MV Don Juan collides with the tanker Tacloban City and sinks in Tablas Strait.
The MassKara Festival is held to raise the spirits of the locals.
MassKara Festival is held with only a virtual audience.
Masskara Festival FAQs
Is the MassKara Festival religious?
The MassKara Festival is a non-religious festival.
What is the most important festival in the Philippines?
Sinulog-Santo Niño Festival is the most celebrated festival in the Philippines as an annual, cultural and religious festival.
What language is spoken in Bacolod?
Most people in Bacolod speak Hiligaynon, while others speak Cebuano.
Masskara Festival Activities
Go to the festival
The only way to celebrate the MassKara Festival is by indulging yourself in it. It’s time for you to have fun, drink, and party on the Bacolod streets.
Wear comfortable shoes
There is plenty of walking and dancing during the festival. You may want to wear your most comfortable shoes while partying.
The MassKara Festival is one of the country’s biggest festivals, and many activities occur. Try everything you can during this festival — the food, party, and more!
5 Facts About Bacolod You Need To Know
It used to be on a hill
Bacolod’s was originally located on a hill, not on the shoreline.
It has the best chicken inasal
Bacolod is home to Inasal Street, known for the best chicken inasal, a well-known grilled chicken dish.
It’s the “Football City” of the Philippines
Besides being the “City of Smiles, Bacolod is known as the nation’s “Football City.”
MassKara isn’t the Mother of Festivals
The MassKara Festival may be one of the biggest festivals in Bacolod City, but the Panaad Festival, held every April, is known as the Mother of Festivals.
It’s home to sweets
Because sugar is the province’s primary industry, Bacolod is home to various sweets, including ‘barquillos,’ ‘biscocho,’ ‘napoleones,’ and ‘piaya.’
Why We Love Masskara Festival
It’s an important declaration
Born out of crises, the MassKara Festival is celebrated as a declaration of the will to survive challenges and tragedies. It’s celebrated to bring back the smiles of locals.
It’s a whole lot of fun
With a dancing competition, Electric MassKara, and MassKara Festival Queen beauty pageant, this festival will surely be packed with entertainment. Visitors can drink and party on the city streets.
It’s a reminder
The MassKara Festival shows that we can choose how we react to the different challenges we face. Smiles can represent a positive attitude toward facing challenges.
Masskara Festival dates