Events and festivals in

French Polynesia

Events and festivals in French Polynesia

Across the paradise islands of聽French Polynesia, you鈥檒l encounter an array of fantastic events, festivals and celebrations! Whilst some events focus on the islands鈥櫬musical and dance traditions, others highlight sporting events, religious festivals and the natural environment. On the other hand, French traditions, such as Bastille Day are also celebrated in French Polynesia. Dive into the Polynesian culture by getting to know these popular聽Polynesian events and festivals!

Heiva (July)

Of all the celebrations and events held in French Polynesia,聽Heiva聽is the best-loved! A聽month-long festival聽of events, Heiva is a celebration of Polynesian culture across all five of the French Polynesian archipelagos. Ultimately, Heiva is a聽competition, where singers, dancers, performers and sportspeople from all over the country come together to compete in an array of traditional arts and activities. The main event, known as聽Heiva I Tahiti,聽is held on the largest island of Tahiti. Performances take place every evening and there鈥檚 an energetic, festive atmosphere across the island as locals get ready to either participate or watch the diverse array of entertainment. Sporting events, such as聽canoe racing, as well as ceremonial events, like聽fire-walking, also take place during聽Heiva. Although the major celebrations can be found in聽Tahiti, each island and archipelago puts on its own version of Heiva during the month of聽July.

Pareo Day (May)

A light-hearted celebration of聽Polynesian culture,聽Pareo Day聽is a modern celebration that aims to celebrate the popular Polynesian clothing item of the聽pareo! Found in the wardrobe of every Polynesia, a聽pareo聽is a colourful piece of cloth, usually decorated with printed or painted flowers. Similar to a聽sarong, it can be worn in countless ways.聽Pareo Day聽is a day where people are encouraged to wear their best pareo either to work, school or wherever else they might go on that day! Usually held on the聽last Friday in May, the celebration was started in聽2013聽and gained popularity around the world thanks to the help of social media!

Bastille Day (July 14th)

Known as 鈥National Day鈥 in聽French Polynesia, this event commemorates the聽storming of the Bastille聽and the French Revolution which followed. In聽Polynesia, this is a celebration of the聽freedom and autonomy聽that came from the French annexation of the islands in聽1881. Falling during the month-long celebration of Heiva,聽Bastille Day celebrations聽involve lots聽of singing, dancing and traditional performances.聽

Tahiti Tiare Day (December)

Usually held in聽December,聽this annual event celebrates the national flower of聽French Polynesia: the聽Tiare! Said to be the world鈥檚 most fragrant flower, this white bloom is an important symbol of Polynesian culture. To celebrate the聽Gardenia Tahitensis, the capital of聽Papeete聽pulls out all the stops, with individual flowers being handed out in the city鈥檚 streets, in shops and even at the airport. Furthermore, local businesses compete to create the most impressive and聽beautiful floral decorations聽and displays can be found in local shops, banks, post offices and other buildings across聽Papeete.聽

All Saint鈥檚 Day (November 1st)

As in other countries around the world,聽French Polynesians聽mark聽All Saint鈥檚 Day聽by remembering their deceased ancestors. The days leading up the聽November 1st聽are dedicated to tidying the graves of loved ones ready to decorate them with beautiful聽floral displays and candles聽on the day itself.聽All Saint鈥檚 Day聽in French Polynesia is a time for families to get together and share stories about those they have lost. It is a聽national holiday,聽therefore聽schools and most businesses are closed on this day.

Chinese New Year (February/March)

Due to the country鈥檚 proximity to Asia, the聽Chinese New Year聽is one of the most important聽festivals in French Polynesia.聽Tahiti, in particular. is home to a large Chinese population and therefore the annual聽lunar new year celebration聽is enjoyed by much of the population, especially in the capital city of聽Papeete.聽To mark the occasion, traditional decorations, such as lanterns, are put up around the city and events such as聽parades and fireworks displays聽bring the community together to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

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