Celebrations are an excellent time to see local culture at its best and Vanuatu has some unique experiences to offer. Some festivals like the St Andrew’s Day and Rah Island Canoe Race allow you to participate with the locals. Vanuatu is rich in cultural festivals not seen anywhere else in the world, ranging from the death defying Pentecost Land Diving (nagol), to the colorful and powerful Tanna Toka Dance which goes on for days (a biannual event with late notice for confirmed dates), the mystical Rom dance of Ambrym Island of magic and fire, and Water Music custom festival performed by the women of Gaua Island. You don’t want to miss this opportunity of a lifetime to experience and witness some of the world’s rarest cultural festivals and rituals, all happening in the islands of Vanuatu.


Rah and Mota Lava Festival Highlights

Vanuatu Custom Travel is proud to promote special local events on the Vanuatu tribal experience calendar set on beautiful Rah and Mota Lava islands. This is a magical place hidden from the modern world. You can relax and unwind, explore land or sea. Take part in the unique traditional fishing event for St Andrew’s Day. Enjoy custom dancing, a swim or canoe race, meet local people and do unique tours and bush walks. Festivals are an exciting time to see rare and genuine local culture and customs.


Festival Event Calendar

January 25  St Paul’s Day – Rah & Mota Lava islands
April to June Nagol Land Diving *Every Thursday,Friday & Saturday* – Pentecost Island
May (DTBC) Nere Festival – Mota Lava Island
May (DTBC) Sand Drawing Festival – Malekula Island
June 11 St Barnabas Day – Rah & Mota Lava islands
June to August Rom Dance                       *Every Wednesday* – Ambrym Island
July (DTBC) Rom Dance Festival – Ambrym Island
July 10-11 Yam and Magic Festival – Ambrym Island
July 27-28 Lamen Bay Outrigger Canoe Festival – Epi Island
July (DTBC) Big Bay Festival  – Santo Island
July (DTBC) International Food Festival – Efate Island
July (DTBC) Circumcision Ceremonies  – Tanna Island
August 20-22 Back To My Roots Festival  – Ambrym Island
August 23-24 The Lakona Bay Kastom Festival – Gaua Island
August 24 St Bartholomew’s Day  – Rah & Mota Lava islands
September 1 Twin Waterfall Festival – Vanua Lava Island
September 2 Rah Island Canoe Race        *To Be Confirmed * – Rah Island
September (DTBC) Fest’ Nalenga, Fest’ Tamariki and Fest’ Napuan – Efate Island
October (DTBC) Outrigger Canoe Race – Santo Island
November 1 All Saints Day – Rah & Mota Lava islands
November 29 St Andrew’s Day Festival  *Very highly recommended* – Rah Island
December 25 Christmas Day                   *Highly recommended* – Rah & Mota Lava islands
December 31 New Year’s Eve – Rah & Mota Lava islands

Note: We highly recommend confirming festival dates with us before making travel plans so we can check the ‘island time’ local clock is on time. Some festival event days may have changed from the time of publishing and some may have been cancelled.


Rah Island Canoe Race

September 2 (DTBC)

The Rah Island Canoe Race offers guests the opportunity to watch or participate in a fun lagoon swim race or a friendly outrigger canoe race around Rah Island. You will experience warm hospitality, custom dancing and cultural festivities unique to the Banks region in this very picturesque part of Vanuatu. Sailors are very welcome to visit for the day. Book early!




Saint Andrew’s Day Cultural Festival

November 29 and 30

The Saint Andrew’s Day Cultural Festival is very special event. It includes 3 days of extraordinary and authentic cultural activities in a truly stunning location. (This is no exaggeration.) Only on Rah Island can guests participate with the local community in an ancient fishing technique using vines and coconut leaves, bows and arrows, to catch your dinner. Also witness the rare and powerful combination of custom dancing and gospel church choir. Book early!


Here is information especially for yachties about a new festival starting in 2014 on Gaua Island.

Lakona Bay Festival