OVER THE course of 15 years, the annual Festival of Lights at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati has grown and evolved. It began as a simple light show and gradually expanded into more areas of the gardens, becoming more immersive.
Though it returned onsite last year, after having gone online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is this year that the tradition expands at Makati’s central business district.
“It’s not just a display of lights of different colors. It’s also a place for family and reunions, a well-loved tradition that is really just a backdrop, because it’s actually about togetherness,” AyalaLand Estates’ marketing and communications head Christine C. Roa said at the press launch on Nov. 7.
“Last year, coming from the pandemic where we couldn’t physically celebrate, people were still not as comfortable going out. Now, we don’t see many masks, and there are more parties. This year is the real comeback,” she said.
Ayala Land officially began its celebration of the holidays on Nov. 7 by lighting up traditional Filipino Christmas decorations adorning the length of Ayala Avenue. In line with the company’s advocacy for sustainability, the parols (lanterns) are reused from previous years.
The theme for this year is “The City Where Christmas Happens First.”
“All of these — the lighting of Christmas decor, the Festival of Lights show — we were the first. Now there are a lot of light shows in the country, but we were the first,” said Ms. Roa.
THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
The Festival of Lights show will be going live at the Ayala Triangle Gardens on Nov. 14. This year, it promises to be a mesmerizing spectacle with three different installations planned.
The first is the classic Christmas lights and sound show at the courtyard entitled The Kaleidoscope of Lights, composed of three Christmas medleys. The first medley features festive Filipino Christmas tunes, the second is an original K-Pop-style composition, and the last medley uses big band instrumentation inspired by Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams.
The Kaleidoscope of Lights also features a series of larger-than-life projections, some interactive, that transform the floor of the courtyard into an illusion of lights enhanced with a smoke machine, modeled after the TeamLab digital art displays in Tokyo.
The second installation, situated at the northern side of Ayala Triangle, is “Wish Upon a Light,” a magical wishing pond. Visitors can write their own wishes or dreams onto the pond made from an interactive LED screen. It lights up when one writes in it, while it is simultaneously flashed on a wall.
The final installation is Liter of Light, a display of one-liter bottles turned into lights to power up a Christmas art installation by Leeroy New, done in collaboration with Arte House and Illac Diaz.
Aside from the Festival of Lights, a slew of events will be held in Makati over the holidays.
AyalaLand, in partnership with the French Embassy, will hold the Marche de Noel Christmas bazaar over three weekends — on Dec. 9 to 10, Dec. 16 to 17, and Jan. 6 to 7. Inspired by the “Marche de Noel” Christmas market in Paris, Lille, and Strasbourg, the bazaar will be located at the Makati Street Meet at Paseo de Roxas.
Like last year, there will be a variety of international and local artisanal products on offer like Paris Delice, Truffle Ph, and Araro Gelato.
“What we offer cuts across ages and demographics. Our Street Meet is accessible and there’s something for everyone, since the marketplace even has meals costing about P100,” Ms. Roa said.
AyalaLand will also hold its annual choral competition at Circuit Makati on Dec. 9. This tradition is done in collaboration with the local government and will showcase the talent of students from various schools in Makati.
There will also be the Come Home to Christmas: A Holiday Concert at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater on Dec. 16, which will feature the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, singes Bituin Escalante, Arman Ferrer, and Lara Maigue, and Sofia Zobel Elizalde’s Steps Dance Project and their Nutcracker company.
Ms. Roa said that 900 free tickets will be given to those who purchase from establishments at Ayala Malls Circuit — a huge chunk of tickets out of the 1,300 seats at the theater.
NEW YEAR’S EVE COUNTDOWN
Since it has been 24 years since the turn-of-the-millennium New Year’s Eve (NYE) celebration at Ayala Avenue, the party marking the start of 2024 will celebrate the milestones and historic moments that happened in Makati.
On Dec. 31, AyalaLand will ring in the new year with a countdown that will be highlighted by a spectacular light show.
“We are really advocating for sustainability. There are now different ways to hold a show as grand as a fireworks display, similar to Vivid Sydney. We want to marry traditions with new ways of doing things,” said Ms. Roa.
There will be performances from some of the country’s biggest names in the entertainment industry (who exactly is still to be announced).
She added that Christmas in Makati this year is the biggest it’s ever been, marking real recovery and more magical experiences with family.
“Families are redefined now. It could be your friends, your furbaby, your officemates. It’s the time of the year you don’t want to be alone,” she said.
For more information on the holiday events, visit the social media pages of Make It Makati on Facebook and Instagram. — Brontë H. Lacsamana