The locals in the French Overseas Territories follow many different traditions and celebrate all kinds of festivities. Most are centered around religious observances, which are common among the islands, especially since the majority of people adhere to Roman Catholic beliefs.

New Year’s Day

The new year is widely celebrated in all of the French Overseas Possessions. While each department and territory has its own way of welcoming this festive day, everyone sees the year as a chance to start anew.

Heiva i Tahiti

The most anticipated festival in Tahiti features beautiful exhibits of traditional arts, crafts, music, authentic dances, and sporting events. The celebration permeates throughout French Polynesia as participants from the entire region converge to join in the festivities which runs from late May to mid-July.

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is celebrated in French Guiana and most other French territories. It is an annual event held on July 14, commemorating the fall of Paris’ Bastille Prison in 1759, which heralded the start of the French Revolution.

Mardi Gras

Martinique’s version of Mardi Gras is a four-day Carnival that commences before the Lent season. In addition to high-energy parades with singing, dancing and drumming, the burning of vaval (papier-mâché figures depicting the Carnival) is one of the most iconic activities during the week.

Guadeloupe Festival

The Festival of Guadeloupe in mid-November is earmarked by all kinds of exciting events like the international bike race, Tour de la Guadeloupe, various beauty pageants and music festivals.

Gypsy Jazz Festival

Held annually in New Caledonia in mid-November, the Gypsy Jazz Festival celebration is devoted to traditional and jazz music along with other influences like gypsy, Easter European Balkan and swing.


Since most locals are Christian, Christmas (December 25) is widely celebrated in the French Overseas Possessions. It is a time to remember the birth of Jesus with all kinds of traditions and family activities.