Top 10 Most Famous Festivals in Papua New Guinea

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Papua New Guinea is a country with a distinct cultural background. There are 600 tribes in the South Pacific nation, each with its own traditions and customs ... read more...

  1. The Goroka Show is a well-known cultural event in the country. This magnificent celebration, set against the natural grandeur and rolling mountains of the Highlands Region, attracts visitors from all over the world, and the town's population surges to approximately 150,000 people for two days in mid-September. On the country's Independence Day weekend, they congregate at Goroka's National Sports Institute to watch performances by various tribes. Performers wear feathers and body paints that are specific to their cultures. Many also sport headdresses that would make an ornithologist blush — birds of paradise feathers are boldly displayed alongside those of other rare bird species.


    Over 100 clan groups participate in the three-day festival, which is a cacophony of sing-songs. The renowned Mudmen of Asaro, who put on a furious display of spear waving coated heat-to-toe in gray mud with ugly clay masks to scare the living daylights out of their enemy, are among those involved in this brawl.


    When: in September

    Where: Eastern Highlands

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    Photo: https://travelationship.com/

  2. The Sepik Crocodile Festival is one of the most famous festivals in Papua New Guinea. This celebration takes place in Abunti, on the banks of the Sepik River, in northern PNG. It pays homage to the revered saltwater and freshwater crocodiles that live in these seas. Crocs have such a strong cultural significance in the Sepik region that one of the coming-of-age initiations in these tribes is to cut the skin on their back to imitate a crocodile.


    Men and crocodiles have a special affinity. The crocodile represents men, strength, and power. Many people have scars from the initiation process. From shoulder to hip, there are scars. The Sepik Crocodile Festival, held in August, honors the ancient animals' cultural customs, beliefs, and stories through canoe racing and dramatic shows.


    When: in August

    Where: Ambunti, East Sepik Region

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    Photo: https://www.flickr.com/
  3. The Morobe Agricultural Show is the country's longest-running cultural event, making it the country's most well-known sing-song. The festival is held at the showgrounds in Lae, PNG's second-most populated urban area, every year in late October, generally on the full-moon weekend. The event is divided into two days, with the first 24 hours devoted to agricultural exhibits and the second to the festivities most commonly associated with PNG sing-sings. There will be traditional dance performances, archery competitions, and horseback riding shows, as well as plenty of colorful costumes.


    When: in October
    Where: Lae, PNG

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    Photo: https://www.looppng.com/
    https://www.looppng.com/
    https://www.looppng.com/
  4. This event pays homage to the Tolai, Baining, and Pomio tribes of Papua New Guinea's East New Britain area. The celebration is an explosion of dancing, ritual performance, and story-telling in the seaside village of Kokopo every July, celebrating their interesting mask traditions. Traditional Tolai shell money is exchanged at the Ralum showground, and Baining fire dancers come from their mountain villages to perform, marching through flames while wearing large masks. The Pomio and Sulka people, who travel hundreds of miles to attend the festival, also perform rare masked dance performances.


    Aside from East New Britain's incredible terrain of lush jungles, volcanoes, and crystal clear waterways, there are hundreds of diverse cultural groups that have formed in virtual isolation from one another. At the Mask Festival, some of these ensembles will come together in a show of rhythm and color.


    When: in July

    Where: East New Britain

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    Photo: http://adventuresofanette.blogspot.com/
  5. For almost 60 years, this fantastic event has celebrated the intriguing customs of indigenous tribes. The Mount Hagen Show was founded in 1961, before PNG's independence, as an annual gathering to bring the local tribes together. The Melpa-speaking tribes of the Western Highlands continue to celebrate alongside up to 50 other tribes from PNG's Highlands regions, including the Jiwaka, Hela, Enga, and Chimbu, until this day. This mid-August sing-along is a costume, craft, and color festival. There are traditional dances, singing, and ritual acts, as well as eating.


    Known as one of the famous festivals in PNG, it is defined by the uniqueness of our cultural history and physical places. About 600 diverse tribal groups and languages all contributed to the uniqueness of our cultural activities.


    When: in August

    Where: Mount Hagen, Western Highlands

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  6. Boats (Kenu) and drums (Kundu) are the pillars of this celebration, when the Melanesian tribes from the 600-plus islands of Milne Bay Province come together to dance, sing, trade and – most importantly – race. Boats and drums prop up society in Papua New Guinea.


    Divers from all over the world visit Milne Bay to experience the area's underwater wonders. Every year in early November, the villagers have a canoe festival to commemorate their strong bond with the sea. The event begins with the blowing of a conch shell at sunrise, accompanied by the rhythmic beating of Kundu drums, and the small village of Alotau comes to life as people crowd the shore to witness the legendary canoe races.


    Costumed warriors paddle aggressively in long, carved dugout canoes against the rugged background of PNG's mainland, their colorful crafts flying across the lake. Visitors are entertained with tribal dancing and live music between races.


    When: in November

    Where: Alotau, Milne Bay Province

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  7. Enga is PNG's highest province, located in the western Highlands. They hold a festival in August in Wabag, the province's capital, that features dozens of traditional acts from tribes all around the province. Discover Engan's famed sand painting, which is unique to the region, or attend one of the many dances and shows that are only performed in this area. Engan dancers with black-painted faces and distinctive headdresses are among them.


    In the 1930s, Enga Province was the last of PNG's provinces to be engaged by the outside world. Traditional customs, rituals, and lifestyles are still observed daily. The Enga Cultural Show was founded to preserve and celebrate traditional knowledge in the face of modernization. You may truly immerse yourself in one of the world's final frontiers of continuous and living indigenous culture here.


    When: in August

    Where: Enga, Highlands Region

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    Photo: https://www.picfair.com/
  8. This colorful celebration in November honors Motuan culture and is held in PNG's capital city, Port Moresby. The Motu are a people that live on PNG's southern coast who used to go on risky trading excursions to distant portions of the Gulf of Papua. Although the Motu's annual hiri, or trading, voyages are no longer held, an annual celebration honors their heritage. When spectators witness the canoe races at the festival, they may readily visualize their epic sea trips in their famous canoes, known as lakatoi.


    These boats, made of big logs and sails fashioned from coconut fiber, traditionally required a crew of 30 men to sail. Singing and dancing, arts and crafts displays, and the crowning of the Hiri queen are among the highlights of the festival, which takes place mostly around Ela Beach and the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.


    When: in November
    Where: Motu-Koita Assembly

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    Photo: https://www.pngattitude.com/
    Photo: https://www.pngattitude.com/
  9. This particular celebration commemorates Rabaul's rebirth following the 1994 twin volcanic eruptions, which nearly destroyed the settlement. This is a famous festival in PNG named after the frangipani flower, which is the town's signature bloom and the first plant to bloom amid the ash, brings together locals and former residents in the spirit of renewal and to strengthen partnerships in the rebuilding of one of Papua New Guinea's most beloved historical towns.


    This pleasant, less frantic event commemorates the rebuilding of Rabaul, the seaside city decimated by Mt. Tavurvur's cataclysmic volcanic eruptions in 1994. According to legend, frangipani was the first flower to bloom through the ash layer. The day-long event includes sing-alongs, boat racing, and Baining fire dances. It's a true community event. The Tolai whip dancers' performance is a visceral demonstration of masculine initiation, with decorated young men receiving synchronized lashes.


    When: in September

    Where: Rabual, East New Britain

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    https://www.pngattitude.com/
  10. Traditional Tufi culture includes tapa fabric and facial tattoos. Tapa patterns and tattoo designs in the Northern (Oro) Province indicate tribes and lineages and are highly esteemed when worn.


    The Festival will feature colorful and energetic cultural acts. Tapa preparation procedures and traditional facial tattoos will also be featured, exhibiting the region's diverse tribal designs.


    The Tufi people of Oro Province embody two highly recognizable cultural traits: tattooing and tapa bark cloth. Visitors may see the creation of coveted tapa fabric with its glorious native designs that are famous among the Tufi people at this absorbing cultural expo, which involves female facial tattoos to mark girls' journey into womanhood.


    When: in September

    Where: Northern Oro Province

    Photo: https://www.papuanewguinea.travel/
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