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.