Imagine this: A Tahitian dance troupe in full cry; brilliantly garlanded girls with long dark hair, hips moving so fast they can’t possibly be attached to their waists, amazing voices, headdresses and skirts shimmying to the rhythm. Accompanying them are fit and muscly men, legs and arms moving acrobatically to the machine-gun drum beat.
I need a cup of tea and lie down just typing that!
Tahiti’s most flamboyant festival is Heiva i Tahiti. It means Festival of Tahiti and runs from the end of June until mid July, taking in the huge celebration that is Bastille Day – the national day in France.
The waterfront in Papeete comes alive with pageants and dancing in its open amphitheatre and stage, and stalls burst with arts and crafts. In recent years there has been a revival of traditional Tahitian culture: singing, dancing, drumming, tattooing, weaving, and all of these are on display for Heiva with groups from the many islands vying for supremacy!
And for those who love to shop in foreign lands, you’ll find handmade arts and crafts, the beautiful black pearl jewellery, locally grown vanilla-infused products, clothing and hand-sewn quilts at Heiva of the Artisans which starts from mid-June and overlaps with Heiva i Tahiti.
Sporty types will be able to ogle archery contests, javelin-throwing and canoe-racing, and take plenty of photos of the bizarre race of the banana-bearers!