A Guide to Celebrations and Events in the Cook Islands in 2023
Celebrate, eat, party, dress up and spectate your way through 2023 by experiencing the major events the Cook Islands has on offer! Celebrations are an integral part of the preservation the Cook Islands culture. We invite our visitors to discover the fantastic array of cultural festivities and holidays that mark historic dates and to join the celebrations of our traditions through dance, food and music. At these events you will experience the finest warm Cook Islands hospitality, spectacular venues and mouth-watering delicacies. Timing your trip to incorporate one of our events is a fantastic way to encapsulate the local culture and vibrant tropical ambience of a true Cook Island gathering.
We have composed our top list of must see events and festivals to help you plan your Cook Islands visit in 2023.
20 – 23 March – BSP Aitutaki Marathon
This ‘Pursuit in Paradise’ race should be a bucket list item for all keen runners. Attracting guests from all around the world, Aitutaki plays host to arguably the world’s most unique and scenic marathon. With options for a full or half marathon as well as a 10km race, there is an option to challenge most fitness levels.
April – May – Te Mire Ura – Dancer of the Year
Dancer of the Year is a lively and spectacular event where competitors dance their way with true Polynesian gusto to become “Dancer of the Year”. This Cook Islands dance-off is held annually at the National Auditorium of Rarotonga sometime in April or May. Bringing together some of the best dancers from across the land, the competition is divided by age group, from juniors to intermediates, seniors, and the “golden ladies.”
07 – 10 April – Easter Celebrations
Easter is celebrated with enthusiasm with events organised by the CICC (Cook Islands Christian Church). Attend a vibrant church service on Sunday. There is also scavenger hunts organised for children, as well as the Tropical Easter Night Market in Avarua, Rarotonga.
July to October – Whale watching season
For those who want to catch a glimpse of these majestic gentle giants as they show-off their aquatic skills, playfully flipping and jumping, July to October is the time of year they often grace our shoreline in both Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
August – Te Maeva Nui
Typically held during the last week of July and first week of August. This cultural holiday on August 4 marks the annual celebration of the Cook Islands’ self-rule. The festival is a fusion of musical and dance extravaganzas, costume showcases, art and craft exhibits, and an exciting array of food that centres around a different theme each year full story here
August – Manureva Aquafest
August is also the month of water sport competitions in Aitutaki. The main sport is kitesurfing, but there’s also oe vaka (outrigger canoeing), SUP and swimming events.
September – Round Rarotonga Road Race
Love running? The top event in September is our annual running event held in September. This event includes the main race, which is a 31km run around the stunning coastal road of Rarotonga, as well as a 5 km fun run, a relay and a cross-island run for the more adventurous.
October – World Food Day
This popular event falls in October each year and is celebrated with local food stalls, fresh produce, a showcase of local farming machinery and live bands! The Cook Islands is passionate about our traditional foods and love sharing this with our visitors.
October – Te Mire Tiare Flower Festival
This annual flower show held in Rarotonga in October. This is a colourful festival expressed at local shops, schools and government buildings that are dressed and decorated with a tropical explosion of local flowers. The sight and fragrant aromas of these flowers throughout the island of Rarotonga is something special to experience.
November – Raro 7s
The Raro 7s is a must-do, family friendly, Rugby 7s Tournament for everyone. Typically held in early November, the event attracts fans from all over the world. Formally called Internal 7s in Heaven, this tournament continues to survive even during the highly commercialised professional era due to the dedicated rugby-loving community and the support of the overseas teams and fans who keep returning to visit this unique Rugby 7s tournament in our little paradise.
November – Vaka Eiva (Canoeing Festival)
This is held during mid-November. The annual event hosts races around Rarotonga and attracts more than 850 competitors, divided into 100 teams. The winners receive the prestigious Pacific Cup.
December – BSP Netball in Paradise
This annual event cater for all levels of netball lovers. Competition categories includes under 13’s, under 15’s, Under 17’s, open ladies, social ladies and open mixed. This fun filled and social event guarantees to be great for competitors and supporters alike.
December – Festive Season Events
This is one of the liveliest months of the event calendar! Book your flights early for this popular time to be in the Cook Islands. There is plenty to do in the lead-up to Christmas Day. Highlights include… Read the full story here
We try our best to bring you accurate information on events in the Cook Islands, but sometimes things can change without notice. Click here to view more information on upcoming events and celebrations in our little paradise
As you can see, there is always something happening in our little paradise. Now is a great time to plan your trip to coincide with what interests you the most. Click here for some great offers to inspire you.