The Philippines is a country that is predominantly Catholic and they love Christmas so much that they start putting up decorations and singing carols from as early as September, keeping the lights shining until the Feast of the Santo Nino on the third Sunday in January.
Thus, it's only fitting that Christmas is starting early in Darling Harbour with the Philippine Christmas Festival returning to Tumbalong Park on 9-10 November this year. Bringing a load of entertainment and activities, there's sure to be something for all to enjoy.
A highlight of this colourful festival is the lantern (or parol) making contest. For those unfamiliar, the parol is an ornamental Christmas lantern that is star-shaped and traditionally made out of bamboo and paper. It's an iconic symbol of the triumph of light over darkness and goodwill through the festive season. Making and hanging a parol outside is also a representation of the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men to the manger of the newly born Jesus Christ.
The contest is open to all Filipino Australians in NSW with the task being to create a parol that embodies the culture of The Philippines, along with the Christmas spirit. There are rules to abide by when it comes to size and safety, etc. If you're interested in partaking in this tradition, then you will need to register here to enter.
This harbourside spot will also see PBA (Philippines Basketball Association) legends visit on the Saturday for a meet and greet with fans. Get some tips on the sport and take a selfie with your favourite player.
When it comes to food, the city has plenty of amazing Filipino restaurants and you can bet the menu at this event will feature the likes of lechon (a crisp, charcoal-roasted pork belly), adobo (chicken or pork braised in garlic, vinegar & soy sauce with rice), longganisa (Philippine sausage) and halo-halo (a dessert of shaved ice with evaporated milk, ube ice cream and fruit).
Indulge further with Filipino market stalls, games, arts & crafts, activities with prizes to be won, Christmas carols and cultural entertainment in the form of musical and dance show performances.
Whether you're of Filipino descent or not, make your way to this free celebration taking place from 10am-9pm and experience the spirit of this South-Eastern Asian country.