Parol Lantern Festival Lights Up Yerba Buena Gardens for the Holidays

Parol Lantern Festival Lights Up Yerba Buena Gardens for the Holidays
A Symbol of Hope and Peace in SOMA Pilipinas


November 13, 2018, San Francisco, CA - The 16th annual San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival and Parade lights up SOMA Pilipinas (SF’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District), Saturday, December 8, 2018 at Yerba Buena Gardens, Jessie Square, and St. Patrick’s Church, from 5-8pm. The parol lantern is the quintessential Pilipino symbol of hope, blessings, luck, and peace, during the holiday season, and can be found lighting up windows in Pilipino homes throughout the world. Community members and commissioned artists will create hand-made lanterns to display at this free, family-friendly event. The festival features a parol lantern parade, a gallery of handmade parols, with live music and dance performances.

"The Parol Lantern Festival is a beautiful annual celebration of culture, community and light that has become a beloved tradition in the Yerba Buena neighborhood. We look forward to it every year!" - Linda Lucero, Executive/Artistic Director, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Sweet Condesa will be serving a dessert sampler consisting of  Brazo de Mercedes Tartlet, Pandan Coconut Bar and Ube Panna Cotta  at Parol Fest this year.

Sweet Condesa will be serving a dessert sampler consisting of Brazo de Mercedes Tartlet, Pandan Coconut Bar and Ube Panna Cotta at Parol Fest this year.

A highlight of the evening will be ‘A Taste of Christmas’, an assortment of traditional Pilipino sweets and delicacies, including bibingka (sweet rice flour cake), and turon (glazed lumpia filled with plantain and jackfruit). In addition, more modern takes from acclaimed chef Francis Ang (Pinoy Heritage), and newcomers to the pastry scene Sweet Cheeseus and Sweet Condesa, will be serving sweets like Biko Passion Fruit Curd and Nut Crumble, ube cheesecake, and ube panna cotta.

This year’s theme will honor the resilience of leaders, artists, youth, student groups, and especially families who have faced political and economic challenges for decades in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Since the 1960s, Pilipino families have come together in the face of these challenges in the Moscone Center/Yerba Buena Gardens/South of Market district. The Parol Festival is not just a celebration, but also a reflection of history in the area which has long been a site of resistance against community displacement. It is a reminder of the community's strength and the ways it has continued to rise up.

SF Parol Fest coverage by TFC Balitang America

SF Parol Lantern Festival is a collaborative project by the Filipino American Development Foundation and Kularts, together they are hosting several workshops for groups, families, and individuals to learn how to make their own Parol Lantern over the next few weeks. Workshops will be held Friday evenings leading up to the December 8, at the Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street, from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Participants are encouraged to enter in the Parol Lantern competition, a cash prize of $500 will be awarded to the most creative design. To register for a workshop visit


Media Contact:
Paloma Concordia


Calendar Listing Info:
San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival and Parade
Saturday, December 8, 5-8pm
Location: Jessie Square, Yerba Buena Gardens, St. Patrick’s Church
Cost: Free
For more info:

Parol Fest Highlights:

  • The Taste of Christmas: Special Pilipino sweets and delicacies! Featuring acclaimed chef Francis Ang (Pinoy Heritage),

  • Parol Stroll: Community members stroll through Yerba Buena Gardens to Jessie Square with lit parol lanterns

  • Tala Awards: Contingents enter to compete with their hand-made life-size parol lantern! The winning group wins $500

  • Parol Art Commissions: by local artists Lynn Bryant, Mel Vera Cruz, Pamela Ybanez, Michael Sacramento, and Robin David

  • Live Music Performances: by the American Center for Philippine Arts Rondalla, Autonomous Region, Cry Wolfs, and Joshua Icban and Aimee Amparo

  • Sayaw sa Ilaw: a community-wide performance inspired by “Pandanggo sa Ilaw”, choreographed by Master Choreographer Sydney Loyola.


Taste of Christmas Menu

Traditional Pilipino desserts and delicacies:
- Champorado with Tuyo Flakes (Chocolate Rice pudding with dried fish flakes)
- Arroz Caldo (rice porridge)  
- Señorita bread (sweet rolls)
- Sumang Kamoteng Kahoy (sweet cassava wrapped in banana leaf)
- Biko (sticky rice cake)
- Maja Blanca (coconut pudding with sweet corn)
- Turon (glazed lumpia filled with plantain and jackfruit)
- Boboto (savory Pampangueno tamales)

Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage:
Francis Ang is the creator of Pinoy Heritage a Filipino pop-up restaurant concept, and SF Chronicle’s 2018 Rising Star Chef. For a ‘Taste of Christmas’ he will be serving Biko Passion Fruit Curd and Nut Crumble.

Sweet Cheesus Cakes:
Sweet Cheesus Cakes specializes in Filipino inspired mini cheesecakes such as ube, mango and jackfruit. For the ‘Taste of Christmas; they will be serving the ube (ooh-beh) mini cheesecake. A purple yam that is similar to sweet potato with a floral note, the ube cheesecake has a graham cracker crust, ube cheesecake custard and topped with ube povloron (shortbread) crumbles.

Sweet Condesa:
Sweet Condesa specializes in handcrafted, micro-pastries and desserts featuring signature modern twists on Filipino and Latin desserts. Sweet Condesa will be serving a dessert sampler consisting of Brazo de Mercedes Tartlet, Pandan Coconut Bar and Ube Panna Cotta at Parol Fest this year.

Brazo de Mercedes Tartlet - Buttery, golden brown shortbread crust filled with custard finished with meringue and powdered sugar. A Filipino “Swiss Roll” rendition.

Pandan Coconut Bar - Our signature shortbread crust with Pandan Coconut custard filling dusted with powdered sugar. Inspired by the traditional Buko Pandan.

Ube Panna Cotta - Ube Halaya Italian Pudding topped with white chocolate drizzle, dark chocolate pearls and edible rose petals.

About Parol Lanterns:
A parol lantern is the quintessential Filipino symbol of hope, blessings, luck, peace, and light during the holiday season. Traditionally made out of bamboo and paper, patterns of the parol evolved from the five-pointed paper star lantern originally crafted in 1908 by an artisan named Francísco Estanislao. The parol, derived from the Spanish 'farol' (lantern), shares similarities to global traditions like Diwali, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and both Indigenous Pilipino and Christian traditions. Competitions are held around the world, with "Ligligan Parul" in San Fernando, Pampanga being the largest. The parol symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos' hope and goodwill during the holiday season.

About Kularts:
Founded in 1985, Kulintang Arts, Inc., now known popularly as Kularts, is the premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts in the United States. Through three decades of service, Kularts has grown into a leading elder arts organization, uniting generations of artists and community activists in a common effort to build a collective space and sense of belonging within San Francisco, specifically the SOMA Pilipinas: Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Kularts creates work that makes visible the contributions of Pilipino Americans and creates room for cultural continuity and knowledge.

About Filipino American Development Foundation:
The Filipino American Development Foundation (FADF) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 to develop initiatives and resources to strengthen the social, physical, and economic well being of the Filipino-American community in San Francisco.