By Perla Lena

CROWD DRAWER. One of the school-based tribes joining the Ati-Ati Tribes competition performs during the Dinagyang Festival grand opening salvo at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on Jan. 12, 2024. Organizers are expecting at least 200,000 spectators to fill the city streets during the weeklong celebration of the festival from Jan. 21 to 28. (Photo courtesy of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival FB page)

ILOILO CITY – Organizers expect at least 200,000 spectators to fill the city streets during the weeklong celebration of the 2024 Dinagyang Festival starting Jan. 21, with highlights on Jan. 27-28.

“For the weeklong, not less than 200,000 along the streets, not counting the locals. We are very optimistic because we can already feel it,” Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) president Allan Ryan Tan said in an interview on Thursday.

He said even the opening salvo held last January 12 was already like a festival, and the return of school-based tribes participating in the Ati-Ati Tribes competition is expected to draw more support.

Besides the Ati-Ati Tribes competition, the other highlights of the festival that draw large crowds include the Kasadyahan sa Kabanwahanan, Dinagyang ILOmination, and Sadsad sa Calle Real.

The local police estimated the crowd to have reached around 100,000 during the Dinagyang ILOmination in 2023.

Tan said another indication of a record crowd for this year’s Dinagyang is that most of the hotels are starting to get fully booked, with major hotels in the downtown area already full.

He advised those looking for accommodations to contact the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) Alliance Facebook page so they can be referred to their member hotels.

“In Iloilo, we have enough rooms to accommodate everyone. Aside from the hotels, there is also Airbnb, which is a big help. Our condominiums, most of them are operated by Airbnb,” he said. (PNA)