Nuku’alofa(Tonga): Tonga is an Island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located about 1,250 miles north of New Zealand. The spectacular island nation consists of about 150 islands, 36 of which are inhabited with a total population of about 120,000. Tonga is ruled by a royal family that dates back to 1831.
The Heilala Festival commemorates the flowering of the Heilala, the national flower of Tonga. But for many years, the Heilala Festival was coincided with the birthday celebrations for Tonga’s King George Tupou IV. After the king’s death in 2006, the festival is now being held as the birthday of Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka. Thus nowadays, the Heilala Festival is the annual event, which commemorates the birthday of His Majesty of the nation. The Heilala Festival which portrays the eye-catching Tongan beauty, culture, tradition and values is celebrated with utmost gaiety and enthusiasm.
The week long Heilala Festival features a host of events, including a Miss Heilala Pageant, music festivals, processions and parades of floats. The streets of Tongatapu are covered with colorful flowered arches, while decorative lights illuminate the Royal Tomb at Mala’ekula and the Royal Palace. Among the live entertainment is the dance group Lakalaka from Vavau, which features some 1,000 dancers.
In addition to food, drinks, and live music, there are also traditional crafts on display. A night-time torch-lighting ceremony, named Tupakapakanava, involves a group of participants carrying flaming torches of dry reeds along the northern coastline of Tongatapu. The evenings often end with gatherings around beach bonfires.
The Miss Heilala Beauty Pageant celebration is the authentic beauty contest of young Tongan women in search for the best contestant. She will be crowned as Miss Heilala and become the face and representative for the Kingdom of Tonga.
As Heilala is the national flower and holds cultural importance due to its unique beauty and sacredness, the flower is being therefore used as a national symbol for such special occasions.
This year’s Heilala festival will be celebrated from June 22nd to July 11th.
The Heilala Festival in Tonga which runs for three weeks is featured with a vibrant number of festivities including Gospel services, a Traditional Tongan night, a colorful parade and Grand Ball Night. Public are welcomed to view all these events during the festival days. Royalties are also invited to be Guest of Honors, representing the Royal household.
Video on Tonga Heilala festival 2015