New Caledonia — Festivals and Events
The festivals listed below are a few of the largest of New Caledonia’s many festivals that take place during the year. Besides the larger regional and national events, most villages will have special events and celebrations throughout the year, often related to food, harvest, sport or religion.
The yam has great importance in New Caledonia, particularly to the Kanak people. Yams are present in all important events such as births, deaths, and marriages. There are several yam festivals that take place across New Caledonia between February and April, when each village celebrates the harvest. The Nouméa yam festival usually takes place mid-April and features a parade and carnival, exhibitions, concerts, dancing and tastings.
Around Easter, the town of Dumbea has a festival that centers around the creation of a giant omelet in remembrance of the time Napoleon ordered a giant omelet be made for his soldiers by the townspeople of Bessieres. This event also takes place in a handful of other French speaking towns in France and Canada.
New Caledonia Triathlon
Established in 1985, the New Caledonia Triathlon is now a major sporting event in the New Caledonian sporting calendar, attended by an excess of 300 athletes from around the world. The event takes place in May and there are four categories: elite, adults, teams and children. Outside of the race, there are pasta parties and entertainment such as music and dance displays.
Night of the Museums
In mid-May each year, the museums of New Caledonia open to reveal mysteries and secrets for one night. The event takes place across the museums of the island and includes themed tours, special exhibitions, concerts, workshops, competitions and storytelling.
Great Lagoon Regatta
The New Caledonia Great Lagoon Regatta is an international boating event open to all types and sizes of boat. Taking place in June each year, the regatta is not only a boating event but a celebration of Melanesian culture and traditions. The various stops take place at tropical islets and feature parties with traditional food, music and dancing.
Bastille Day, held on 14th July each year is a French national holiday and a public holiday in New Caledonia, marked with a French military parade, fireworks, music and dancing.
Nouméa holds a carnival in mid-August each year, which is one of the islands largest events, attended by about 15,000. There are concerts, music, costumes, dancing and food. In the early evening, a grand parade moves from Birhakeim Square through the streets down to the Jules Ferry Quay where the event closes with a fireworks display.
Christmas celebrations take place throughout December in New Caledonia, with several Christmas markets, light shows, Christmas trees, children’s activities and, in Nouméa, a Santa’s letterbox in the Place des Cocotiers. Christmas Day is a time for family meals and gift-giving. Many restaurants will have a special menu for Christmas Eve, often featuring local specialties such as crayfish.