The Ati-atihan Festival is an annual event held in the province of Aklan in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It is a celebration of the Aklanon’s culture and traditions.

The festival is held in honor of the Santo Niño, a small wooden statue of the infant Jesus that is believed to be a powerful religious relic.

Known for its colorful and lively street parades. Participants dress up in elaborate costumes and paint their bodies in black using charcoal. It is also accompanied by music, dancing, and other cultural activities.

The Ati-atihan Festival has a long and exciting history.

According to legend, the festival dates back to the 17th century, when a fisherman came across a small piece of wood on one of his nets. No matter how many times he threw it away, it kept coming back. Feeling defeated, he took it home to be used as firewood. In the middle of the night, he and his wife heard a beating sound. Following the beat, they found the piece of wood now in a shape of a small child resembling a baby Jesus.

They decided to place the carving on their altar, and the weeks following that was filled with bountiful blessing and a good harvest. The carving was then moved to the Ibajay Parish after the fisherman sought advice from a priest. Days passed, and the wood disappeared and was later found at the fisherman’s house.

The Aklanons interpreted it as a sign to ask for forgiveness. And as part of their penance, they covered their faces in soot and dressed in rags. After this, the carving was returned and no longer left the parish. One day a group of Spaniards went to invade the small town, but the people fought back and won. They dedicated their victory to the carving now known as Sr. Santo Niño.

The Aklanons began holding a festival in its honor to show their gratitude and devotion to the Santo Niño, now called Ati-atihan. The Ati-atihan Festival quickly became a popular and important event in the Aklan province and continues to be celebrated to this day.

The Ati-atihan Festival is now held every January, attracting many visitors from all over the Philippines and the world. The festival is known for its colorful and lively street parades, where participants dress up in elaborate costumes and paint their bodies in bright colors.

The costumes and body paint used at the festival are essential to the Ati-atihan tradition symbolizing penance and the Aklanons’ pride in their culture and heritage.

In addition to the street parades, the Ati-atihan Festival also features a variety of cultural activities and performances, including traditional music and dance, art and craft demonstrations, and more.

The Ati-atihan Festival is an important event in the Philippines. It is a unique and vibrant celebration that brings together people from all over the country and the world to honor Sr. Santo Niño.

If you have the opportunity to attend the Ati-atihan Festival, it is an experience that you will never forget.