Located in the heart of Pampanga Province, the City of San Fernando is also popularly recognized as the ‘Christmas Capital of the Philippines’ due to its annual Giant Lantern Festival, which is hosted every December and attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe.

During the Christmas season, San Fernando becomes the center of a flourishing industry centered on handcrafted huge lanterns (parols). What differentiates these lanterns from others are their intricate designs along with the illusion of dancing lights focusing on the lively colors of the lanterns.

San Fernando’s second major event, the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites, is a Holy Week reprise of Christ’s passion and death and includes a passion play that culminates in the actual nailing of a dozen or so penitents to a wooden cross using two-inch stainless steel nails. This event is not approved by the Catholic Church but the media generally admits it is a big draw.

An appealing site in the city is Paskuhan Village, a historical, cultural, trade, tourism and entertainment village showcasing the inheritance of northern Philippines’ four regions, including their indigenous arts and crafts.

Another place of interest is the Archdiocesan Museum and Archives of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, which contains countless ecclesiastical artifacts. San Fernando is also the home of the largest Christmas lantern on the planet, an 88-foot diameter structure built in 2002.

Travel to San Fernando - Getting there

San Fernando lies nearly 70kms north of Manila and 80kms north of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and can easily be reached by car or bus within 1 hour to 1 hour, 30 minutes.

San Fernando attractions

Paskuhan Village: the first entertainment village in Asia.

Archdiocesan Museum and Archives of the Archdiocese of San Fernando: housing the globe’s biggest Christmas lantern and numerous ecclesiastical items.


Giant Lantern Festival: hosted each Saturday before Christmas Eve.

San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites: see a re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

In brief

What to do: experience the Giant Lantern Festival.

Best time to go: between November and April, outside of the wet season (or during the Christmas season)

How long? A couple of days are adequate to explore San Fernando.

Trivia: in 1990, Paskuhan Village was inaugurated Asia’s first Christmas village.