Heiva i Tahiti Festival

The South Pacific's most famous annual festival will light up Papeete's waterfront from July 2nd to July 21st. The Heiva i Tahiti originated in 1882 and was formerly known as La Fete du Juillet or Tiurai Festival because it's always held in July (Tiurai is a Tahitian corruption of the English word July). This year, a special Tahiti Festival Village is being constructed to bring many activities together. Demonstrations of Polynesian tattooing, medicine, and massage will take place, and there will be traditional sporting events, handicraft displays, and an agricultural show. The election of Tane and Purotu, Mr and Mrs Tahiti, always generates some interest.

The highlight of the Heiva is the singing and dancing contests, which are truly spectacular, rivaling Rio de Janeiro's carnival. And as at Rio, spectators must pay admission to the stands to watch the show. For the equivalent of around US$20, you get four hours of non-stop entertainment as a dozen teams from all around French Polynesia compete for the prizes. The nightly singing and dancing begins on July 2nd, with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the best days to attend. The awards will be presented on July 19th, and there will be a gala show featuring all the winners on July 21st (or July 22nd in case of bad weather on the 21st).

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