Tebara Festival in Nausori town.

Ever been to a festival in Fiji? Certainly festivals in Fiji are a little different from the ones back at home. In fact, certain festivals have been in operation for such a time that it has become highly anticipated for many locals. Various towns have conducted festivals as an initiative to aid in community awareness and improvement.

What are festivals/carnivals like in Fiji?

Festivals in Fiji are synonymous with the word ‘carnival’, and aren’t grandeurs as carnivals are ought to be but are more of a community initiative to address social awareness through pageants.

Hibiscus festival: Suva

Known locally as, ‘the mother of all festivals’, the festival was initiated by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Suva in 1956. The festival drew inspiration from the Aloha festival of Hawai’i and was initially held at the old Suva town hall (now Vine Yard restaurant). In the later years, the Hibiscus festival became a huge part of Suva’s culture and was held at Albert Park. The festival continued for 62 years before going on a brief hiatus in 2018. There are talks to revive the festival and when it does, the entire Suva city will all be concentrated in one part of the city. Lights, rides, food and live entertainment will litter the entire grounds of Albert Park for an entire week of August.

The Hibiscus Festival. Photo Credit: FBC

Nasinu festival: Valelevu

According to a Fiji Times article, the Nasinu festival was another Junior Chamber of Commerce (JCC/Jaycees) initiative, this time by its Nasinu branch. By 1986, the festival had been an annual event for the municipality of Nasinu for a fifth year in a row. The festival also occurs around the later month of August or early September and is held in the town of Valelevu.

Tebara festival: Nausori

The official festival of Nausori town, this festival has been around for a few decades. Like the Hibiscus festival, the Tebara festival also underwent a brief hiatus before making a comeback in 2015. Similar to all festivals, the Tebara carnival provides an empowering platform for young ladies in whatever path they may choose. The festival is a week-long event that is usually held within the second to third week of September. This is definitely one of the yearly highlights of Nausori town as the festival brings together the three provinces that the town services, the provinces of Rewa, Tailevu and Naitasiri.

Photo Credit: Fijivillage.

Rakiraki Carnival: Rakiraki

On the northern point of Viti Levu, in the heart of Fiji’s Suncoast, sits Rakiraki town- the provincial town of the Ra province. The carnival, a joint effort of the Rakiraki town council and the telecommunications giant, Vodafone provides a platform for young ladies to showcase their full potential as well as their ability in addressing social issues. The carnival is usually held in the later weeks of September.

Ba Festivals

Ba town also has a number of festivals under its belt. A charity queen contest was held in 1962, in the aim that the money raised would be given to charity and the one who raised the most money would be crowned the winner. There have been several different carnivals held in Ba, the Bougainville, Ba farmers carnival and the Ba music festival, all held in the later parts of the year.

Sugar Festival: Lautoka

The Jaycees, who now have a reputation for playing a hand in the establishment of such carnivals made this possible for the city of Lautoka in 1961. Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city is the main processor of sugar, the backbone of Fiji’s then economy. The carnival initially began as part of the Cession day (later Fiji independence) celebrations on 10th October in which they crowned their pageant winner, the title of ‘Miss Sugar’. The event is usually held in the early weeks of October, coinciding with Fiji’s independence day celebrations.

Hibiscus pageant queens. Photo Credit: Fiji Sun.

Bula Festival: Nadi

Another initiative of the Chamber of Commerce- Nadi branch, this carnival initially began as a ‘Nadi Commerce Week’ in 1961. It officially became the Bula festival a year later when its pageant winner was crowned, ‘Miss Bula’. Held around August or September, the carnival is a pride of Nadi.

Friendly North: Labasa

Held in Labasa, the northern town of Vanua Levu. The Friendly North saw its inception in 1976 under the guide of the Rotary Club. The ‘Babasiga festival’ was occasionally held over a course of three days to aid in the finances of a Squash court at the Adi Laisa Park. The festival is also held in the month of September.

If you’re ever in Fiji during these months, then check these festivals out for an authentic Fijian carnival experience.

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