TOP 5 PAPUAN FESTIVALS
Festivals mark the spirit of joy and unity and they demonstrate rich cultural heritage of the people. Where else if not in Papua New Guinea the knowledge and tradition get passed to the next generation in a form of the most magnificent celebrations. Face painting, body decoration and adornment are the key features of such events. Using a wide variety of materials like pigments, bones, leaves, shells, animal skin and bird feathers, the native people creatively design and construct phenomenal costumes and accessories to pay respect to their culture. Wild fire dancing, pounding drums and traditional sing-song along with other distinctive tribal rites, animist rituals and mesmerising ceremonies are a big part of these shows.
This is the most vibrant and the most spectacular festival in Papua New Guinea, featuring over 1000 participants adorned with amazing tribal regalia from more than 100 different ethnic groups. The September celebration is the oldest festival of Papua, held in the Highlands` town of Goroka to honour a big day in the country`s history – the Papuan Independence on the 16th of September 1975.
Goroka Festival is the ultimate feast for one`s eyes and it will cost the visitors around $30 USD.
NOTE that this is the main tourist attraction of Papua New Guinea, therefore bookings are essential.
Goroka cultural event, Goroka
Mt Hagen Show is an August cultural event and it is Papua`s second most important celebration. More than 50 distinct tribes gather up in one of the largest cities of Papua New Guinea, Mt Hagen, to present their amazing handmade colourful outfits while dancing and singing together in the rhythm of drums to celebrate their cultural heritage. Mt Hagen carnival is an opulence on a big scale and it made it to be well-visited not just by the indigenous but also the Western people.
NOTE that this spellbinding show of Mt Hagen is not the cheapest ($ 100 USD/2 day pass) but it is something to see once-in-a-life-time and it is definitely worth the money.
Mt Hagen show, Mt Hagen
Ambuti is also called a crocodile festival and already its name arouses interest. It takes place on the banks of the mystic Sepik River every August. The festival lasts for four days paying tribute to the crocodile – the sacred animal of the region, including spirited dancing and wild scary costumes.
NOTE for the strangers, the price is around $ 30 USD and they can rely on high levels of adrenaline.
Ambuti festival, Sepik
DID YOU KNOW?
SEPIK RIVER territory, a distant cousin of the Amazon, attracts many adventurers by its animist heritage and the eerie tribal culture. Heading up the river will take visitors back into the medieval times with its totemic customs and villages still reigned by black magicians and shamans, performing some of the most shocking rites like extremely painful body scarring.
According to a myth once there was a crocodile in Sepik River which became a human and the animal has a great significance for the Chambri tribe. And so, in recognition of the sacred lizard the young men of the Sepik region are inflicted with hundreds of deep cuts in cascading patterns down their back, chest and arms to make their body look like a crocodile. Besides, clay and tree oil is pushed into the wounds to make them raised once healed. Young male teenagers must undergo this agonising ritual to officially become men.
Scarred body of a Chambri man in order to look like a crocodile
Morobe is basically an agricultural fair taken place every October in the town of Lae. You will enjoy spectacles such as female topless dancing and male rodeo-style performances. This is the land of “cowboys” and on this day the local men gather to show off their horse jumping and riding skills. The event continues with archery competitions and finally the crowning of the Morobe Show Queen. The striking Morobre Sing Sing is finished off with a dramatic music party, presenting evocative dress ups.
NOTE for only as much as $ 5 USD any one can witness the awe-inspiring ambience of the very last festival of year.
Morobe Festival, Lae
Hiri Moale festival is another annual event which celebrates Motuan culture and takes place in the district of Port Moresby and the Southern Lowlands every September. Similarly to Morobe the highlight of the show is crowning of the Hiri Queen. Moale is the most significant event in the southern part of Papua New Guinea and it honours the ancient Hiri trade from the pre-colonial times. The locals typically create and radiantly decorate the so called “lagotoi” canoes and sail westwards into the Gulf of Papua to trade clay pots for assorted foods, e.g. Sago – the national delicious staple food extracted from tropical sago palm stems.
NOTE the participants will pay $ 30 USD in order to enjoy the unique water show on Port Moresby`s lovely Ela Beach.
Hiri Moale celebration, Port Moresby
6.KOKOPO MASK FESTIVAL (BONUS)
This less known yet very fascinating show is a life dream for all anthropologists. It is every year in July when myriads of masks and surreal handmade costumes are presented in the coastal town of Kokopo. Various ethnic groups perform ritual dance in ancestor and spirit masks in the night time to create kind of eerie atmosphere. Dancing through blazing fires accompanied by the chanting audience makes the whole extravaganza simply arresting.
NOTE experience the jaw-dropping moments of the Kokopo Mask Show for just $ 30 USD.
Kokopo mask festival, Kokopo
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