Every October, Bacolod City in the Philippines celebrates the Masskara Festival. It is usually about three weeks of festivities. It starts on October 1 and ends on the second to the last Sunday of October which is the highlight of the festival. This year, the Masskara Festival weekend was from October 20 to 22, 2017.
The Masskara Festival started in 1980. At that time, there was an air of gloom in the city. The sugar industry which was then the lifeline of many Negrenses was in crisis. Futhermore, the inter-island vessel MV Don Juan carrying many Negrenses collided with the oil tanker M/T Tacloban City and sank on April 22, 1980. The city was in a mournful state. To uplift the spirit of the people, the local government together with civic groups and local artists decided to hold a festival of smile thus the birth of the Masskara Festival. Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles. Revellers wear masks signifying that Bacolod is pulling through despite the sugar crisis and Don Juan tragedy. It shows the happy spirit of the Bacolodnons.
The Masskara Festival features a street dance competition during the highlight weekend of the festival. Throngs of people troop to the streets along the route commencing in the Bacolod Public Plaza. Masked dancers dance to the beat of Latin music. They wear elaborate colorful costumes. On Saturday is the school division category and on Sunday the barangay category.
In recent years, the Electric Masskara was introduced. Brightly decorated floats and dancers in illuminated costumes go through some of the city streets at night during the highlight weekend.
Other festival activities include the Masskara Queen competition, drum beating competition, carnivals, food festivals, garden shows and trade fairs among others. The streets surrounding the Bacolod Public Plaza are closed from late afternoon till the evening for revelers, mostly beer drinkers. There is also a mask making and masskara costume competition. In later years, a big portion of Lacson Street, a major thoroughfare of the city, is closed to vehicles for three nights during the highlight weekend for the street party. People gaily trot the street. On the sides, people merrily dine and drink. Many popular restaurants line this street thus it is known as the Tourism Strip. At the New Government Center there is also a big street party. Nightly fireworks displays are highly anticipated.
In the past years, Bacolod has seen an influx of tourists from other cities and countries.
Kari na sa Bacolod!