Butuan City, being a part of Mindanao, has long been establishing relations with the Srivijayan Empire since the tenth century. Butuan’s location on the coast has made it a trading point in Mindanao. Boats, or balangahais, are known to dock on the bay of Butuan mainly for trading between local inhabitants and those from the neighboring empire. An excavation during the 1970’s exposed these balanghais to the modern world, and these balanghais were found to be almost a thousand years old through carbon-dating.
The Balanghai Festival commemorates this historical event through a night of exotic performances, colorful costumes and the much-awaited floats. There are also contests, exhibits and other festivities during the said event. Balanghai Festival is celebrated during the third week of May, and also coincides with the feast of their patron saint, St Joseph.