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The Story of a Star – Giant Lantern Festival 2015


Nothing compares to the bright and joyful Christmas season in the Philippines. One place where Christmas is larger than life is at San Fernando, Pampanga where every December, they have the Giant Lantern Festival. This year, it will take place from 19-31 December 2015. What is special about this festival that people around the world are drawn to it? Why was it listed in the Guinness World Record? Let’s travel back in time and learn a bit of history of this 108-year-old tradition.




History of Giant Lantern Festival (Updated 2013) by CSFP CIO History of the Giant Lantern Festival of the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. Video Updated for 2013. © 2013 CSFP CIO. All Rights Reserved
Posted by Giant Lantern on Saturday, January 4, 2014




The Star of Bethlehem

A traditional Christmas ornament that is found in each Filipino home is called the “parol” (sometimes called “parul”) which got its inspiration from the Star of Bethlehem. Through the years, the art of making the parol has evolved from simple paper and candle, into metallic framed and psychedelic star figure with 9000 computer-controlled LED lights. They are so beautiful with intricate patterns of flowers, stars or psychedelic colour combinations.


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The first parol was an influence of the Spanish friars of the Augustinian Order in their religious processions (or church parades). The parade for saints is called “Lubenas”. This happened during the Spanish era in Philippine history. In 1908, the first parol was crafted by a Filipino named Francisco Estanislao. The town of San Fernando in Pampanga province started their first formal giant lantern festival in 1930. A year after, the first lantern competition was launched in honour of Doña Aurora-Aragon-Quezon, the first lady of the Philippines that time.


Technology eventually became a part of the parol craft in 1940 when the use of battery operated lanterns were created. In the 1950s, parols were made more durable by moulding thin wires to replace wood in the framework. This made the parol less flammable as well. It was in 1964 where the first commercial lanterns were sold in the market. Pampanga was the frontliner in producing and marketing these parols.


The parol industry and festival stopped during Martial Law from the Marcos regime in 1978-1979. When Marcos lifted Martial Law in 1981, the parol festival eventually returned, and this time with formal rules, regulations and awards. That time, Brgy. Del Pilar in Pampanga was the star in these events.




An improvement in venue happened in 1990 when the celebration was transferred to the Paskuhan Village (Christmas Village). Two years after, the parol became a shining star in an exhibit in Seville, Spain. Then the following year, the Filipino parol was featured in a Hollywood Christmas Parade. In 1998, the Rizal Park was also filled with giant parols. The Filipino parol was also listed in the Guinness World Record in 2002 for a lantern that measured 100 feet.


For the years that followed, the parol’s popularity and sale reached the USA, Italy, China, Switzerland and other countries.


Giant Lantern Festival 2013 – Telabastagan

Art Therapy and Finding Light for the Soul

With the popularity of the adult colouring books, the artists behind the majestic Giant Lantern Festival will eventually launch their very own colouring book featuring the intricate designs and art of the Filipino parol in Pampanga. If you’re an adult and want to find relaxation for the mind, these adult colouring books are highly recommended. Consider this an art therapy to recharge the mind and soul. Let the Filipino Star of Bethlehem guide you to the joy of doing art.



First ever Giant Lantern coloring book for adults will be out soon! Featuring actual lantern designs of giant lantern makers, printed on vellum board paper (one per sheet), ideal for coloring pencils, pens and watercolor too, easily detachable. Only Php 130.00 per coloring book. Discounts apply for 10 or more pieces. Will be available at the City Tourism Office, City of San Fernando, Pampanga and at the Giant Lantern Festival booth, Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.


Don’t miss this year’s Giant Lantern Festival. Here are the details:




For more information:
The Giant Lantern Festival –
City of San Fernando –



Author: Marcelle Villegas
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