Ethnic Fijians tend to express their culture in day-to-day life rather than through specific festivals. By contrast, Fiji-Indians celebrate most events with gusto, whether it’s a local wedding, religious festival or one of the many fascinating firewalking ceremonies held around the country. The country enjoys twelve public holidays; the most likely of these to feature traditional dance and other public displays are Ratu Lala Sukuna Day on May 30 and Fiji Day on October 10.
The main towns of Nadi, Lautoka and Suva each have a commercially driven week-long festival (see calendar) with fairground rides, food stalls, parades, beauty-queen crowning and an alternative Priscilla night when gays and transvestites take centre stage. The town festivals held in Levuka and Savusavu are more culturally inclined.
Indian festivals are commonly celebrated in public and with great fanfare, with Diwali the biggest and loudest for Hindus and Eid a serious affair for Muslims – towns with a large Fiji-Indian population are naturally the best, especially Lautoka and Tavua on Vanua Levu or Labasa on Vanua Levu. There are over forty Indian firewalking ceremonies held around the country between April and September. These are fascinating and very spiritual experiences – ask around at local temples to find out where one is being held. The two largest are listed here.
Coconut Tree Climbing Competition
1 Jan. Held at Denarau Island, this zany event tests the skills of Fiji’s most daring personalities.
End Jan with main day being the last Sat. This ten-day Hindu festival at the Nadi temple has devotees piercing their bodies and dragging chariots using meat hooks.
One day after full moon, usually early March. Hindu festival celebrated with throwing of coloured turmeric powder, feasting and the singing of religious poems.
Indian fire walking
First Sun after the full moon. Held at the Malolo Temple south of Nadi, with devotees walking across a pit of burning wood embers.
13 May. Dance and feasting amongst Rotumans throughout Fiji to celebrate Rotuma’s cession to Fiji and Britain.
Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day
30 May. Public holiday remembering statesman Ratu Sukuna, sometimes with organized dance and fundraising events in urban centres, but generally a family holiday with lovo.
Mid to end of the month (t 670 0133). Nadi’s yearly week-long celebrations at Koroivoli Park.
fijiswims.com. Three ocean races from 1km to 18km centred around Beachcomber Island in the Mamanucas.
First Sun after the full moon. The largest of the Fiji-Indian firewalking event is held at the Mahadavi Temple on Howell Rd, Suva.
Mid-Aug, coinciding with school holidays (t 331 1168). Suva’s yearly week-long celebrations at Albert Park.
Fiji Regatta Week
Musket Cove Marina, Mamanucas (wmusketcovefiji.com). Pirate trips, races (in small hobie-cat boats) and general yachty hoo-ra.
Usually the first week of Sept (t 666 8010). Lautoka’s yearly week-long celebrations at Churchill Park.
10 Oct. Public holiday celebrating the day when Fiji was both ceded to Britain (1874) and given independence (1970). Dance performances are sometimes held in Albert Park, Suva.
Back to Levuka Week
10 Oct. Traditional re-enactments of cession, art displays and agricultural shows.
Late Oct to mid-Nov, depending on lunar calendar. Fireworks and lights are the star attractions of this Hindu celebration.
Rising of the Balolo
Mid-Oct to mid-Nov, depending on moon. Naturally occurring event at a dozen or more coral reefs around the islands – the tail of a mysterious worm rises to the surface, is collected and eaten as a delicacy.
Savusavu Music Festival
fiji-savusavu.com. Local musicians and dance troupes perform throughout this week-long event.
1 Dec to mid-Jan. Door-to-door dancing and merry-making on the outer island of Rotuma, known as fara. Sometimes indulged in by Rotumans living in urban centres, particularly Suva.