What events take place in Fiji?
Fijian’s love a reason to celebrate. With a melting pot of cultures from Melanesian and Polynesian to European and Indian, Fiji hosts some of the largest festivals in the South Pacific, including Hindu festivals and special Christian events.
While there are many more to experience, here are some not to miss:
- Fara (summer over December and January)
- Holi (February or March)
- The Fijian Crosswalk (March or April in the week leading up to Easter)
- Fijian International Jazz and Blues Festival (May)
- World Music Festival (June)
- Bula Festival (July)
- South Indian Fire Walking Festival (July or August)
- Hibiscus Festival (August)
- Friendly North Festival (August)
- Lautoka Sugar Festival (September)
- Fiji Regatta Week (September)
- Sugar Festival (September)
- Diwali – Festival of Lights (October)
- Fiji Week & Fiji Day (October)
- Rising of the Balolo ( October/November, Eighth Day after the Full Moon)
- New Year’s Eve (December)
Summer (December / January)
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve in Fiji is a big deal celebrated with passion over many days and weeks rather than just the one night. Villagers get together with friends and family for large feasts, traditional dance performances and splashing each other with water, which is a way of celebrating in Fiji. A grand street party, firework display, traditional Meke dance, kava, traditional dress and music make Fiji one of the best places to ring in the New Year with plenty of opportunities to see how the locals party.
New Year’s Eve is also celebrated at most resorts, which are a lot of fun and well-worth enquiring about if you’re lucky enough to be visiting during this time. You will not be disappointed!
Fara is a festival celebrated annually on the remote and culturally conservative island of Rotuma, which is heavily influenced by Polynesian culture given its close proximity to Tonga and Samoa.
Fara, meaning ‘to ask’ in Rotuman, occurs during the summertime festival of av’ manea, meaning ‘party time in Rotuman. During Fara, the island’s population will often double due to the festival’s popularity and many Rotuman’s returning home.
Fara is celebrated with groups of singers, dancers and musicians playing drums, guitars and ukuleles, travelling from house to house either late at night or early in the morning to entertain their hosts and ‘ask’ for their participation and hospitality. The tradition of Fara is impromptu with those at houses visited not knowing in advance they are coming. At the end of the performance, hosts will thank the performers with drinks, biscuits or other snacks and sprinkle them with perfume or talc.
February or March
Holi is a national festival celebrated mainly in the large centres, including Suva, Nadi, Lautoka and Savusavu during either February or March each year. Also known as The Festival of Colours, Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated by large crowds gathering to throw coloured powders to signify forgiving and forgetting.
Transcending caste, creed, class or colour, the Indian influenced Holi brings people together from different communities and promotes reconciliations and new beginnings.
March or April (week leading up to Easter)
The Fijian Crosswalk
With Christianity being a dominant religion in Fiji, Easter is celebrated nationally each year with respect and reverence. Aside from Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday being observed as public holidays, the most celebrated Easter tradition in Fiji is The Fijian Crosswalk.
Symbolising Jesus Christ’s final walk to Jerusalem, The Fijian Crosswalk starts during Holy Week before Easter in Suva. Over the course of seven days, many Fijian Christians chosen by village members walk the 190kms to Nadi along Queens Road carrying a wooden cross the entire way. Large crowds gather every year to watch and accompany the cross bearers.
Previously, The Fijian Walk was completed by Catholic Fijians. Since 2014, however, Methodist Fijians have also participated and the walk is treated with the utmost respect by all Christian Fijians.
Fijian International Jazz and Blues Festival
For three days in May each year, Fiji plays host to an international celebration of jazz and blues with the world renowned Fijian International Jazz and Blues Festival.
Attracting the best local talent along with performers from all around the globe, including from neighbouring Australia and New Zealand as well as further afield from the United Kingdom, Europe and United States of America, the festival lights up Port Denarau with non-stop blues and jazz in one of the most stunning backdrops in the world.
World Music Festival
To celebrate World Music Day, Fiji’s capital, Suva, plays host to a World Music Festival each year. Held since 2006, the free festival is incredibly popular and aims to make music accessible to all. Thousands of visitors can enjoy all kinds of music in the streets from both amateur and professional acts and from all over the South Pacific Islands
In the lead up to Fiji’s largest and longest running festival, the Hibiscus Festival, which is held in Suva during August, Nadi plays host to its sister festival, the Bula Festival. One of the biggest tourist attractions and most popular festivals of the year, the Bula Festival celebrates Fiji’s history and culture.
Featuring a parade inside Prince Charles Park, live entertainment, marching bands, local arts and culture, a Pacific dancing contest and Bollywood nights before ending with beauty pageant to crown ‘Miss Bula’, the Bula Festival raises funds for charity while providing outstanding entertainment for locals and tourists alike.
July or August (Full Moon)
South Indian Fire Walking Festival
A tradition celebrated by local Indo-Fijians, firewalking has origins in both Fijian and Indian cultures. The South Indian Fire Walking Festival celebrates this tradition in late July or early August each year, with the biggest celebration of the festival held at the Mariamman Temple in Suva.
Preceded by 10 days of abstinence and meditation, participants then bathe in the sea and have their face and body pierced by a Hindu priest with skewers and faces covered in turmeric in preparation for the firewalking celebration. It is believed if participants are devoted to the Divine Mother, they will not feel any pain walking barefoot on hot embers and coals.
First held in 1956, the Hibiscus Festival is the longest running and largest Fijian festival. In August, Suva comes to a standstill as locals and tourists alike celebrate Fijian culture during the most anticipated week of the year.
A family-friendly event, the Hibiscus Festival’s main feature is the Miss Hibiscus beauty pageant, crowning just one winner from the many entrants that come from all of the islands. The Hibiscus Festival has something for everyone with live music and dance performances, arts and culture, rides, children’s activities, competitions, food, drinks and parades.
The Hibiscus Festival celebrates all the multi-cultural aspects and influences that make Fiji such a special and unique country. A truly spectacular event.
Friendly North Festival
On Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, one of the biggest events on the calendar is the Friendly North Festival. Running for more than 40 years and also held in August, the Friendly North Festival celebrates culture and history in Labasa, a mainly agricultural town of Indo-Fijian people.
Crowning the Queen of the North during the week-long festival, celebrations include a Bollywood Night, Pacific Night, stalls and other performances to raise money for charities to benefit causes in the town.
A way to promote tourism in the island, this beautiful festival has people of Labasa come out in the streets and the famous Subrail Park.
Lautoka Sugar Festival
It’s not wonder that that host city of the Sugar Festival is Lautoka, the sugar capital of Fiji. A fun event held every September, The Sugar Festival is a celebration of food, dance and other activities as well as a beauty competition to crown Lady Sugar, Miss Sugar Princess and even Mr Sugar King!
Fiji Regatta Week
Also held in September is the infamous Fiji Regatta, one of the premier racing and cruising regattas in the South Pacific. Hosted by Musket Cover Marina on Malolo Lailai Island in the Mamanucas, the six-day event has been running for over 35 years and attracts yachties from all over the south pacific.
Fiji Regatta Week promises attendees they can ‘sail by day and party by night’ with a series of parties, yacht races, seminars, a marine swap meet and more – especially if staying at one of the three resorts on the island.
One of the most popular of the sailing events is the Port Opua Cat Challenge, which runs over the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with the ‘Crown Jewel’ event being ‘Round Malolo Classic, consisting of a race around Malolo and Malolo.
Diwali (Festival of Lights)
A large segment of the Fiji population is Hindu, meaning the Hindu festival of Diwali is elaborately celebrated every October and is one of the country’s main festivals.
Also known as The Festival of Lights, Diwali is recognised as a public holiday allowing the whole country, including Christian and other communities, to take part in various light shows, clay lamps, candles, ornate lights and firecrackers to light up the night sky and ward off evil.
Fiji Week & Fiji Day
On the 10th of October every year, Fijian’s celebrate their National Day with a multicultural mix of religious and cultural events, in particular the diversity and union of Fijian and Indo-Fijian cultures. Commemorating Fiji’s cession in 1874 and then independence in 1970 from the United Kingdom, Fiji Day marks the island nations freedom from British colonial rule and is a recognised public holiday.
Fiji Day occurs during a week-long festival, which is celebrated differently in each city and town. Involving entertainment programs, performances, speeches to parades and parties.
October or November
Rising of the Balolo
Generally occurring in October or November each year depending on the moon’s cycle, the Rising of the Balolo is a natural phenomenon and occurs exactly as described. Balolo are sea worms and once per year on the eight day after a full moon, they rise to the surface to spawn. Known as the ‘Caviar of the Pacific’, Balolo is a delicacy for Fijian people and celebrated with a festival that attracts people from all over the island to collect Balolo.
Sailing out in canoes with nets and torches, millions of the worms are scooped up to eat and take home to share with friends and family.
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