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Cook Islands Calendar of Events 2024

The purpose of this page is to show you what main events take place when if you're planning a visit to the Islands

Where dates are shown these are confirmed. For the rest, you can see when they took place in 2023 and the 2024 dates will be added as soon as they're announced.  All events are in Rarotonga unless otherwise stated. 

At the bottom of this page you can get an idea of what's coming up in 2025. This is a large page so if you've got a slow connection, there's a summary calendar - just click the button below

If you want to reuse the information on your own website or social media please provide a link back to this page

this CALENDAR in summary

JULY/AUGUST

TE MAEVA NUI   30 JULY-5 AUGUST
Cultural festival and constitution celebrations

The MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN THE COOK ISLANDS CALENDAR is the annual celebration of self rule, granted in 1965. Formerly called the Constitution Celebrations, it was renamed in 2001 because the Prime Minister of the time wanted a Cook Islands Maori name to capture the essence and joy of the annual festival. "Te Maeva Nui" translates as "the major or most important celebration". ​Each year, performing artists from Rarotonga and the outer islands gather at the National Auditorium in Rarotonga to present new dances, songs, drum beats and costumes expressing the cultural theme chosen for that particular year.

Events usually begin with a float parade through town. Teams from the outer islands also sell crafts and produce from their home during island days throughout the festival. Other events during the festival typically include coconut husking, a Maori food festival and specially themed cultural nights.  Constitution Day itself is 4 August and is a public holiday.  Note that tickets this year can only be bought on the island (there will be no on-line sales)

JULY TO OCTOBER: WHALE WATCHING SEASON

Nobody organises this one, but for many visitors it's a highlight not to be missed. ​​Between mid to late July and October, the waters off the islands are full of whales. They swim close to shore as they head for warmer waters to mate, give birth and rest. In Rarotonga they come so close that you can even watch from the main road through town (Avarua)  Photos: Cook Islands News

Find out where and how to watch responsibly

NOVEMBER

TURAMA  1 NOVEMBER

Graves may not be everyone's idea of a tourist attraction, but on Rarotonga they're a spectacular sight on 1st November each year when islanders decorate them with flowers, and candles (real and solar powered!) which burn throughout the night. Turama is a an ancient Roman Catholic celebration of All Souls Day when people gather at gravesides, laugh about happy times and tell stories of their departed loved ones. These days other denominations also join in.

On the evening of the 1st, the church holds a requiem mass at the cathedral in Avarua. The priest blesses holy water and takes it to the nearby cemetery at Panama, close to the airport. He sprinkles it on the graves as a symbol of the water used at baptism as a sign of the promise of eternal life. After a short prayer service, and as the sun sets, people light the candles

VAKA EIVA (Canoeing festival)   22-29 NOVEMBER

In 2004, the Cook Islands Canoeing Association hosted the inaugural Rarotonga Vaka Eiva - a series of canoeing races including a round-Rarotonga relay for the main prize of the Pacific Cup. Now an annual competition with a host of fun activities as well as the races. Previously, upwards of 850 people have competed in around 100 teams. After being scaled back to a local event it's now an international competition again

The festival - the biggest sporting event in the islands - normally also includes a competition among the Islands to build and race a canoe built in the traditional manner by carving a tree trunk...like this entry from Mangaia

FITNESS FESTIVAL, AITUTAKI

This community initiative was established in 2021 to promote health and fitness on Aitutaki but it's now much more than just that. Competitors from Australia and New Zealand were among nearly 100 people showing their weightlifting skills in individual and team events in 2023. And there was also a beginners category which the organisers hoped would encourage islanders to have some fun while getting fitter  Held 31 August-2 September in 2023 but expected to be in November in 2024

TE MIRE TIARE (Flower) FESTIVAL

The sight and scent of flowers is everywhere on Rarotonga during this annual festival. Highlights include a float parade, a pageant to choose Miss Tiare and competitions for the best decorated businesses and government buildings Held from 27-29 November in 2023

DECEMBER

KONI RAONI, AITUTAKI  26  December

Unique to Aitutaki, Koni Raoni loosely translates as "to dance around", and each year one of the villages on the island takes a turn at hosting the event to raise funds  for that village. Fresh ei (flower garlands) and kai manga (a heavy duty kaikai feast) welcome the dancers wherever they go. A similar event also takes place on 2 January  

CHRISTM​​AS EVENTS

ROTORACT CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK, National Auditorium - entertainment, food and children's activities Typically around 15 December
SANTA PARADES through Avarua from the start of December with festive floats and more. And don't forget to take a stroll through town where the main street has a fun way of decorating for the season, including coloured street lights, palm frond Island-styled Christmas trees and lots of decorations  

HOTELS AND RESORTS also have special events for their guests. And even if you're not a regular church-goer, a visit to one of the many services will not only remind you of the true meaning of Christmas it will leave you with memories of some amazing harmony singing

KONI RAONI, AITUTAKI  26  DECEMBER

Unique to Aitutaki, Koni Raoni loosely translates as "to dance around", and each year one of the villages on the island takes a turn at hosting the event to raise funds  for that village. Fresh ei (flower garlands) and kai manga (a heavy duty kaikai feast) welcome the dancers wherever they go. A similar event also takes place on 2 January  

MARCH 2025

COMPOSERS C​OMPETITION (TE MIRE ATU)

The competition is a celebration of original Cook Islands compositions. This is also a great chance to listen to some beautiful, traditional music from the Cook Islands as composers and singers vie for the top honours. 

Held on 27 March in 2024

APRIL 2025

LGBT+ CELEBRATIONS

2024 saw the first gay pride type events. A week long celebration of love acceptance and unity is how 'Anuanua' was described by 'Pride Cook Islands' marking the first anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality (Click here to find out more about that).  There are hopes it will now be an annual event.  Held 12-20 April in 2024

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT/COPYRIGHT: The Vaka Eiva and Te Maeva Nui photos on this page are the work of a great photographer, Harvie Allison. They are reproduced with his kind permission. So...do not reuse these pictures...please contact Harv for his permission. And I also recommend a look at his website which includes many more superb photographs.