Festivals and Events

The Cook Islands, renowned for their warm hospitality and rich Polynesian culture, come alive throughout the year with a tapestry of festivals and events. From colorful cultural celebrations to lively music festivals and delectable food events, these experiences offer travelers a deeper connection to the islands’ traditions and community spirit.

Cultural Festivals:

  • Te Maeva Nui Festival: Celebrated annually in July on Rarotonga, this festival commemorates the islands’ self-governance with vibrant dance performances, traditional music, and cultural exhibitions. It’s a time when locals proudly showcase their heritage through storytelling and artistic expressions.

Religious Festivals:

  • Gospel Day: Held in October, Gospel Day is a significant religious event celebrating Christianity’s influence on the Cook Islands. It includes church services, hymn singing, and communal feasting, reflecting the deep-rooted faith and spirituality of the islanders.

Food and Drink Festivals:

  • Cultural Food Festival: Experience the flavors of Polynesian cuisine at the Cultural Food Festival, where local chefs showcase traditional dishes like ika mata (marinated raw fish), rukau (taro leaves), and fresh tropical fruits. It’s an opportunity to savor authentic flavors and learn about the culinary heritage of the islands.

Music and Arts Festivals:

  • Manureva Aquafest: Combining water sports with music and arts, Manureva Aquafest in August is a celebration of ocean culture. Enjoy sailing races, canoeing competitions, live music performances, and art exhibitions that highlight the islands’ deep connection to the sea.

Sporting Events:

  • Vaka Eiva: Held in November, Vaka Eiva is the world’s largest outrigger canoeing event, drawing participants from around the globe to compete in exhilarating races on Rarotonga’s lagoon. It’s a testament to the Cook Islands’ passion for water sports and community camaraderie.

Seasonal Festivals:

  • Christmas in the Islands: Experience a tropical Christmas with unique traditions such as island-style feasts, church services, and festive music concerts. It’s a time when communities come together to celebrate the joy of the season amidst palm trees and warm breezes.

Community Events:

  • Island Nights: Throughout the year, resorts and local communities host Island Nights, featuring traditional dance performances like the exhilarating ‘ura (hip shaking) and drumming. Join in the fun with cultural demonstrations, fire dancing, and a feast of local delicacies under the stars.

Arts and Crafts Fairs:

  • Market Days: Visit Punanga Nui Market in Avarua on Saturdays to browse arts and crafts stalls showcasing handmade jewelry, wood carvings, woven textiles, and other locally crafted souvenirs. It’s an opportunity to support local artisans and take home unique treasures.


In the Cook Islands, festivals and events are more than just gatherings—they are celebrations of heritage, community, and the island way of life. Whether you’re drawn to the rhythmic beats of traditional drumming, the flavors of Polynesian cuisine, or the adrenaline of canoe races, each festival offers a window into the vibrant culture and warm hospitality of the Cook Islands. Plan your visit to coincide with these enriching experiences, and immerse yourself in the lively spirit that defines this tropical paradise. Celebrate, dance, feast, and create lasting memories as you discover the heart and soul of the Cook Islands through its diverse array of festivals and events.

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