Papua New Guinea is encouraging Australian travellers to experience some of its colourful ‘festival season’, which runs from now until October.
While many festivals are not publicised and known only through word of mouth, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority says there is a growing number of events that travellers can attend on organised tours. Chief executive Peter Vincent says the festivals allow “rare exposure” to PNG’s rich cultural traditions.
One of the most popular events is the National Mask Festival in early July, bringing together groups from all over PNG to showcase a range of masks through dance and ceremony.
In mid-August is the Mt Hagen Show, which began as a forum for different tribes toshare their cultures through song and dance and has since become an event held largely for tourists.
Another vibrant tribal gathering with music and dancing occurs at the Goroka show in mid-September, then the Kundu and Kanu Festival in early November showcases traditional drums, canoes and other arts and crafts.
According to the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, just over 16,700 Australian leisure travellers visited PNG last year. Many of these were trekking the Kokoda Track, which is experiencing another bumper season this year.
This article is an excerpt from Jane E. Fraser’s weekly travel column in The Sun Herald, Sydney.