Panagbenga Festival opens in Baguio City

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The annual Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City, themed "Bless the Children with Flowers," kicks off Monday (February 1) with a grand opening parade.

Baguio City (CNN Philippines) — The 21st Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga formally opened Monday (February 1) in Baguio City, with a grand opening parade that featured a drum and lyre dance competition.

Competitors from various elementary schools and officials from the 20 districts of Baguio paraded from Session Road to the Athletic Bowl.

Colorful costumes in flower motifs as well as upbeat parade music entertained residents and tourists, while some entries opted to go for the more traditional playing of gongs.

The soft opening marked the formal start of Panagbenga activities, which include landscaping competition, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom activity, a kite-flying challenge, a variety show, and firework displays.

Also read: Politicians barred from politicizing Panagbenga

The main attractions are still to come on February 27 with the much-awaited Grand Street Dancing parade, and on February 28 for the Grand Float Parade.

Schedule of events:

 

Millions expected

The theme of this year's festival is “Bless the Children with Flowers.” It is expected to draw over a million tourists as it also coincides with the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming, which will beef up the tourism count.

Tourists currently enjoy the cold weather in Baguio. ​Air temperature has been steady at 11 degrees celsius in the past few days. It even reached 10.8 degrees celsius last week due to the prevailing northeast monsoon or hanging amihan that brings about cold winds.

Watch: Tourists enjoy cold temperature in Baguio City

Related: Quality, supply of vegetables in Benguet affected by cold weather

Aside from wanting to experience the cold weather, Gerry Beltran of the Baguio Association of Hotels and Inns said that tourists also flock to Baguio to join the Panagbenga Festival. He said hotels and inns in the city are already starting to get fully booked as early as now.

 

Panagbenga_3_CNNPH.png Scene from the grand opening parade on February 1. Authorities also advised the public to enjoy Baguio by walking around the city streets instead of using motor vehicles, because heavy traffic jams are expected as the culmination of the festival nears.

Panagbenga means “season of blooming” in the local dialect, as February is the time when most highland flowers bloom.

CNN Philippines' Camille Abadicio contributed to this report.