Concept: Cultural Festivals

Alternative Names
  • Festival of the Sea


Solomon Islanders today present their traditional cultures through dance and song on church and national occasions, at family and customary events and nightly at hotels for tourist entertainment. Traditional dancing has long been a feature of some Christian church events and at many secular gatherings such as the Queen's Birthday and other celebratory occasions.

The first large-scale cultural festival in Honiara occurred on Christmas Day in 1965 when two thousand people watched the Solomon Islands Feast and Dancing Festival, organised by the Ports Authority. The custom feast included five hundred pigs, one bullock, dozens of chickens, forty bags of rice and a ton of vegetables. The dancers came from Guadalcanal and Malaita. The festivities continued on Boxing Day when seventy Birao dancers from inland Guadalcanal performed. (NS 7 Jan. 1966)

The first Sea Festival was held in Honiara in 1968 and continued for a few years in the early 1970s. The spectacular centrepiece in 1968 was a race between war canoes from Santa Ana, Santa Catalina and Roviana, all decorated in traditional styles. Other events were canoes races and seamanship trials, with competitions for copra-loading, dinghy-racing and ship-inspections. (NS 15 Apr. 1968) The next year's Festival was not as successful because the war canoes never arrived and drunken Europeans spoilt many of the competitions. There was no festival in 1970, although it resumed in 1971 and 1972. (NS 31 May 1969, 31 Jan. 1970) Another was held on 20-21 February 1974, timed to coincide with the visit of Queen Elizabeth II. (NS 4 Feb. 1974, 1 Mar. 1974)

Related Concepts

Published resources


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details