Cultural shows in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s culture is extremely diverse. The traditional Melanesian cultures – more than 200 have been identified – are kept alive in elaborate rituals involving deaths, feasts, marriages, compensation ceremonies and initiation rites. Visitors to country areas, especially in the Highlands, will often find local variations in village construction, dialect and dress. The Highlands has more than 60 separate languages, cultures and traditions. The colourful Huli Wigman and the Asaro Mudmen can be seen in traditional bilas (costume) during cultural shows. The Goroka and Mt. Hagen Cultural Shows are so popular that accommodation bookings have to be made a year in advance.

Date Event Location
July National Mask Festival Kokopo, East New Britain
August Crocodile Festival Ambunti, East Sepik
August Mt. Hagen Show Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands
September Goroka Show Goroka, Eastern Highlands
September Hiri Moale Festival Port Moresby
October Morobe Agriculture Show Lae, Morobe
November Kundu & Canoe Kenu Festival Alotau, Milne Bay

Goroka Show

Location: Goroka

The Goroka Show is one of the most well-known tribal gathering and cultural events in Papua New Guinea. It is held annually during the weekend closest to Independence Day (16th September), in the town of Goroka. About 100 tribes come together to showcase their music, dance and extraordinary displays of tribal rituals. The staging of the Goroka Show started back in 1957 and was first introduced and organised by Australian Kiaps (patrol officers).

Hiri Moale Festival

Location: Port Moresby

The Hiri Moale Festival celebrates the epic journeys of the Motuans with re-enactments of the voyages for current generations. The Hiri Moale Festival has become the city’s premier cultural show with activities including canoe racing, marching, floating, peroveta choir, and “SingSings”. The journeys taught people to endure hardships in life and taught the young life skills, seamanship and to get up and go and not
rely on handouts.

Morobe Agri-Cultural Show

Location: Lae

The Morobe Agri-Cultural show is an annual event originally started to showcase the agricultural, cultural, industrial and commercial features of the area around Lae. The main exhibits are Agriculture, Horticulture, Livestock, Commercial and Schools, besides cultural exhibitions.

Mt. Hagen Cultural Show

Location: Mt. Hagen

Mt. Hagen Cultural Show was first staged in 1964 by many different tribes from Western Highlands Province. The purpose of the original show was to share the cultural experiences of different tribes with each other, calming the ever-present tribal animosities and enmities by bringing all tribes together in a one cultural event to expose the positive side of life, and to celebrate the diversity of cultures among the natives.

The Mt. Hagen Cultural Show now focuses on tourist entertainment and is designed to attract international and domestic travellers. There is also now prize money on offer for the winning cultural group, which makes the competition aggressive, colourful and exciting.

Over 50 different cultural groups perform their different dances (or “SingSings”) for the tourists. Local musicians and other modern entertainment events and attractions also occur during the show.

Crocodile Festival

Location: Ambunti, East Sepik Province

Crocodiles are part of the Sepik heritage and symbolise strength, power and manhood. The Crocodile Festival includes dugout canoe races, “SingSings”, dance and performance from communities across the region. The festival aims to raise awareness of the protection of these animals and their habitats.

National Kenu & Kundu Festival

Location: Alotau, Milne Bay

Canoes and the Kundu drums are a significant aspect of the lives of the people of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Both the Canoe and the Kundu were widely used in olden times in ceremonies and rituals and were meticulously crafted from special woods, under strict customs, to derive the best results and to appease the gods.

National Mask Festival

Location: Kokopo, East New Britain

The National Mask Festival was initially introduced in 1995 and is staged as an Annual National Event to promote the Mask Cultures of Papua New Guinea. Masks have been a feature of human civilization for thousands of years and vary from culture to culture, providing many different functions.

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