The Cook Islands boasts one of the liveliest and most vibrant cultures in the South Pacific, and festivals play an important role in keeping ancient cultural traditions alive. From vibrant flower shows to lively dance competitions, here are some of the most popular festivals and events throughout the year.
1. Te Mire Ura Festival
Cook Islanders love to dance, so it's only fitting that they have a whole festival dedicated to it. Te Mire Ura is an annual dance competition that takes place at the National Auditorium of Rarotonga in April or May. The nation's best dancers flock to the festival in their most showstopping costumes to showcase their best moves in an attempt to win the prestigious title. The competition categories are divided by age from juniors to seniors, but there are also a few extra categories thrown in such as expats and visitors. If you don't fancy joining in, you're more than welcome to watch in the gallery.
2. Te Maeva Nui
Kicking off in the last week of July, the much-anticipated Te Maeva Nui festival is a week-long celebration that marks the anniversary of when the Cook Islands gained independence in 1965. The festival is jam-packed with cultural festivities including an elaborate opening ceremony, choirs, float parades, traditional dance performances, art exhibitions and impressive spreads of food. Being in the Cook Islands for Te Maeva Nui is one of the best ways to learn about the Cook Islands' rich cultural heritage. Get ready to party!
Turama, or All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, is an annual Catholic festival that takes place on 1 November to commemorate the lives of ancestors. Local islanders gather at cemeteries and decorate their loved ones' graves with fresh flowers and candles, pray together and reminisce about the good times they shared.
4. Te Mire Tiare
Usually held at the end of November in Ratorgona, Te Mire Tiare is a week-long flower festival featuring colour-bursting parades of flower floats, flower displays all over the town, and a Miss Tiare beauty pageant. The festival usually follows a different theme each year, and it's amazing to see how the locals bring their elaborate flower designs to life.
5. Motu2Motu Aitutaki
Aitutaki is the Cook Islands' most famous lagoon, and every year in the last week of November, paddlers flock to the peaceful waters to take part in a lively rowing race known as Motu2Motu Aitutaki. For those not taking part in the race, there's a spectator's boat where you watch the action with a cold drink.
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