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Looking for somewhere different to visit for Christmas? Manila is the bustling capital city of the Philippines and a magical place to visit during the Christmas season. Filipinos begin celebrating Christmas as early as September and the festivities continue right through to January.

There are so many sights and attractions on offer during the Christmas season. One of the most popular is the Ayala Triangle Gardens where you can see the Festival of Lights, a dazzling light and sound show that takes place every evening.

Every December, the University of the Philippines holds the colourful and vibrant Lantern Parade. This tradition began in 1922 as a simple homage to the practice of carrying lanterns to light the way to the early morning December masses. Since then, it has grown into a hugely popular Christmas festival. The Parade features floats and lanterns of all shapes and sizes that reflect Filipino culture.

Have you ever seen an entire road lit up in Christmas splendour? That’s what the Street Light Musical Tunnel in Ortigas East offers. During the night, a stretch of the road is awash in Christmas lights that will leave you feeling like you’re entered a portal to a magical kingdom.

Another must see is the Pasko sa Intramuros, a festive event held in the historic walled city of Intramuros. Here, you can see a giant Christmas tree and enjoy performances and food stalls.

If stunning Christmas decorations are your thing, take a wander through the foyers of the larger hotels. The festive displays are truly magical as each competes to outdo the other.

For a religious experience, attend the ‘Simbang Gabi,’ a nine-day dawn mass leading up to Christmas Day. Attend it at Quiapo Church or the Baclaran Church for a truly authentic Filipino Christmas.

If you’re traveling with children, take them to the Enchanted Kingdom, a theme park in Santa Rosa, Laguna. During the Christmas season, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with snow and Christmas-themed attractions.

Now what about Christmas presents? You’ve come to the right place as Manila is a great place to shop. You can find everything from high-end designer brands to local handicrafts and souvenirs. Some popular shopping destinations include SM Mall of Asia, Greenhills Shopping Centre and Divisoria, which are all decorated beautifully and offer a ton of different activities to get you in the Christmas spirit. You can also witness dazzling pyrotechnics at the SM Mall when the put on their annual fireworks display.

There’s also plenty of Christmas bazaars worth a visit for unique and handmade gifts, such as the Noel Bazaar. Filipinos are known for their haggling so hit the local markets for the best bargains.

Filipino cuisine is a must try when visiting Manila, especially during the Christmas season. A staple during this time of the year is ‘bibingka’ and ‘puto bumbong’ which are sweet rice cakes traditionally served during the ‘Simbang Gabi’ or dawn mass. You can also try ‘lechon’ or roasted pig, a Christmas staple in the Philippines, and ‘queso de bola’ or Edam cheese, which is often served during Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner.

With its festive atmosphere, delicious food and fun activities, you’re sure to have a memorable Christmas holiday in Manila.

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