The Summer Capital extends its warmth through the Yuletide season as the city government and the Baguio Tourism Council launched another edition of the “An Enchanting Baguio Christmas” celebrations on Dec. 1.
In keeping with traditions, this year’s most awaited ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree atop Session Road ushered in the formal start of the more than a month-long Yuletidecalendar of activities followed with the anticipated lantern parade by the Saint Louis University community down Session Road to the Melvin Jones football field.
A bigger crowd was expected at the ceremony after the city government shortened school classes to a half day on Dec. 1 to allow students to join in the festivities.
Earlier, huge crowds flocked at the central business district as they were initially treated with the façade lighting of Porta Vaga Mall followed by a fireworks display on Nov. 27, and the grand opening of the Baguio Christmas Market 2023 at the Rose Garden on Nov. 29. Much earlier was the Botanical Garden Christmas Metamorphosis last Nov. 24 at Leonard Wood Road.
BTC Chairperson Gladys Vergara-de Vera said as the coldest city in the Philippines, Baguio is the perfect canvas for replicating the magical Christmas atmosphere by transporting revelers to the charm of European-style Christmas markets, which is a festive celebration inspired by the traditions that originated in Germany.
Anthony de Leon, BTC vice chairperson, extended the city’s invitation to the public to join in the celebration of the rich culture and heritage of the Baguio community as local artists and vendors bring the holiday spirit to life through their crafts and delicacies and immerse in the diverse cultural events and performances, which are a testament to the timeless traditions of Baguio.
Enchanting Baguio Christmas activities are lined up throughout December and extend up to Jan. 7, 2024, mostly presented by the Baguio’s renowned universities, starting with the Philippine Military Academy which is presenting the Parade of Toy Soldiers at 2 p.m. at the Rose Garden, followed by its Silent Drill at 3 p.m. at Melvin Jones grandstand, and the PMA Christmas Chorale at 4 p.m. at the Rose Garden, all on Dec. 3.
On the same day the Nutcracker Ballet Suite will also have a presentation, also at the Rose Garden.
All other activities hosted at the Rose Garden include another well-loved Baguio Christmas offering, the University of Baguio Christmas Cantata to be held at 5:30 p.m. of Dec. 9; the yesUCan Christmas Concert by the University of the Cordilleras on Dec. 16, 5:30 p.m., followed by the University of Voices and Graces Concert at 5:30 p.m., Dec. 17; and Christmas Gift Giving at 9 p.m., Dec. 23.
Anticipated masses or Simbang Gabi will also be from Dec. 15 to 23 at the Rose Garden every 5 p.m.
The city will commemorate the Rizal Day at Rizal Park on Dec. 30 and will have a “Pagpupugay sa mga Bayaning Pilipino” by the Baguio Cosplay Community at 7 a.m. at Rose Garden.
The public is also invited to the New Year Countdown on Dec. 31 at p.m. and the closing ceremony on Jan. 7, 2024.
City officials recognized the efforts of the private sector led by the BTC as it pulls yet another edition of An Enchanting Christmas in the city.
“No doubt there shall be the ambiance of enchanted when the people are treated with revelry of the European themed Christmas Village through the cozy charm of the themed market. Places are certain to captivate our locals and visitors during the yuletide season,” Mayor Benjamin Magalong said.
Department of Tourism-Cordillera Director Jovy Ganongan noted the city’s magical transformation during the holiday season, with its twinkling lights, vibrant decorations, and its sense of community that make Baguio a truly exceptional destination during Christmas.
City Supervising Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said nowhere else can one feel such merriment, goodwill, and optimism but amidst the cool air and warm embrace of the City of Pines.
“Your favorite Christmas destination promises to enrapture, enthrall, and enchant your holidays,” he said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana