While summer officially starts a few weeks earlier, for many people the Fourth of July marks the beginning of the season. Fireworks, festivals, and live music provide all of the motivation many people need to get out of the house, enjoy the weather, and have some much needed fun. July has the reputation as a month of celebration here in the U.S., but other countries have their own ways of celebrating the season.
In Fiji, the summer season offers a few notable festivals that are local to the island nation which serve to highlight Fijian culture through the celebration of the Bula Festival and the Hibiscus Festival. For those interested in experiencing some of the local customs and flavor Fiji has to offer, these festivals make for a great time to visit.
The Bula Festival
A festival after our own heart here at Bula Kava House, the Bula – which translates as “hello” or “welcome” – Festival is held annually in the town of Nadi, which is Fiji’s third-largest metropolitan area.
Generally scheduled in late July or early August, the Bula Festival runs for an entire week and features traditional foods, music, and competitions. Much like a large carnival, the festival takes place entirely in both Prince Charles Park and Koroivolu Park, which are located near the Nadi Market.
For Fijians, the festival provides an opportunity to showcase the nation’s multiculturalism. Fijian culture acts like a melting pot for the region, combining Polynesian, Melanesian, and even European and Chinese influences.
The Bula Festival doesn’t culminate in one particular event, but those who’ve attended insist that that indigenous Meke dance is a sight certain not to be missed. The Meke dance can tell a variety of stories about war, history, and folklore, ranking as a primary component of the nation’s oral history.
Vendors will also be on hand to sell local and traditional foods, as well as kava. If you’re considering visiting Fiji in the future, the Bula Festival makes an excellent event to plan around attending.
The Hibiscus Festival
Fiji’s longest-running festival, the Hibiscus Festival first dates back to 1956. Held over the course of one week in early August, the Hibiscus Festival makes its home in Suva, Fiji’s capital and the largest metropolitan area in all of the South Pacific.
The first Hibiscus Festival in 1956 was held over the course of just one evening. However, due to the immense popularity of the event, it was extended to three days the following year. Now, 55 years later, the festival shuts down the entire capital for a week. People from around the region come to experience the sporting events, rides, food, parades, music, and float processions that take place throughout the city.
The Hibiscus Festival culminates in the crowning of the Hibiscus Queen. The annual beauty pageant brings women from all around Fiji’s 300 islands together for a competition that results in one being chosen the winner. Much like Mrs. America here in the states, the Hibiscus Queen wears her crown with pride for the year, making appearances around the country as a symbol of Fijian culture.
Thanks to the care and craftsmanship put into its cultivation, drinking kava provides a small glimpse into the many cultures that grow kava. Yet, events like the Bula and Hibiscus Festivals show that these cultures have far more to offer.