Established in 1991, the Samoa Teuila Festival is now in its 28th year of celebration. Never heard of it? That’s kind of what makes it so great.
As one of the South Pacific’s largest and greatest cultural displays, the Teuila Festival is an authentic, idyllic escape to another world. While representing true Polynesian culture across the islands, the festivities and local traditions are primarily featured in Samoa’s capital city, Apia.
Teuila is the national flower of Samoa and can be seen around the island in all its bright red glory. The vibrant beauty of the plant inspired the festival name as it represents the same qualities as the event: the true heart of the region’s culture.
Celebrated Sept. 2–8, guests join locals in traditional Samoan dances, arts and local fare and elevated gastronomy. Expect traditional tattooing, or tatau, as this tradition is deeply rooted in Polynesian culture.
The tatau historically originated from Polynesian culture and the need to communicate. Across the Polynesian islands, before language was written down, tattoo art was used to express personality and signs of individuality with one another. Also indicating when someone had come of age, tattoos typically depicted who stood where in the hierarchy of society.
While traditional tattoo art occurs throughout the festival, you won’t hear a lot of buzzing and vibrating like in an American parlor. The art is created on the body by tapping into the skin — if you have seen Moana, you get the idea.
The Opening Ceremony starts with a floral parade, native music and Siva Afi fire knife dancers — not a bad way to kick off five days of fun and entertainment.
Also during the festival, the iconic Chief Fiafia show showcases traditional South Pacific entertainment and culture. Guests of all ages enjoy the festival’s focus on the arts. Unleash your creative side with arts and crafts, traditional weaving, cocktail competitions, wood carving and, of course, dancing. Head to the Samoa Cultural Village to watch the locals partake in the festivities, passed down by the generations before.
All this dancing, creating and tattooing may have worked up an appetite. Luckily, there is an abundance of food at the festival. Enjoy local specialties and watch traditional Umu demonstrations served from underground ovens.
Stick around for more parades, pageantry and prizes during this once-in-a lifetime celebration of tradition, culture and incredible artistry.