Each September the small Eastern Highlands township of Goroka attracts visitors from across the globe as it embraces one of the most culturally significant, vibrant and colourful festivals in Papua New Guinea.
In a three-day celebration that honours the true tribal culture of the region, this annual sing-sing features over 100 tribes showcasing their music, arts and culture.
It’s an annual event gaining popularity, and a celebration that many travel miles to enjoy. This is the Goroka Show, and the history and features it embraces…
The Goroka Show
Held each year around the country’s Independence Day on September 16, the Goroka Show is a festival dating back 60 years.
It first started in the mid-1950s courtesy of Australian Kiaps (patrol officers), who proudly took the opportunity to display the culture of their district through language, celebration and makeshift buildings reflecting tribal tradition.
These days the Goroka Show has evolved into a major tourist attraction, but still stays close to its roots as a cultural celebration where customs and rituals are shared.
Over 100 tribes from the region now take part, wearing traditional dress, sharing their customs, and showcasing their music and dance.
The three-day event is considered one of the largest tribal gatherings in the world, featuring an array of colour, music, food, face painting, and dance. At times there can be up to 40,000 warriors all in rhythm to the beat of Kundu drums.
This year saw the 61st Goroka Cultural Show bigger and better than ever. More than 200 traditional singsing groups performed and displayed PNG’s rich culture and attendees were able to view the Rugby World Cup’s Paul Barriere Trophy as it reached the show grounds accompanied by rugby league player Lote Tuqiri. The children who participated in the Pikinini Show had the opportunity to take photos with the trophy, an exciting moment for any young rugby league fan.
Goroka has evolved from a small outpost in the 1950s to a major commercial centre that 25,000 people now call home. It sits at 1600m above sea level, with a climate described as “perpetual spring”.
Here the European influence is evident, with a history of coffee plantations, mining, missionaries and patrol officers.
It’s a character infused region of vibrant colour, with Goroka Events Goroka Events noting: “Traditional dress is seldom worn this days, although the Highlanders still live in village of neat clusters of low walled round huts built amongst the rolling kunai-grass covered hills”.
Experiencing the Goroka Show
There is a host of ways to experience the authentic vibrancy of the annual Goroka Show.
A number of tour operators provide specific itineraries that encompass the event, with accommodation, travel and tickets all included.
For those looking to attend the festival independently, tickets can be obtained through local accommodation providers in the days leading up to the Goroka Show. It’s worth noting, while tickets are seldom released far in advance, accommodation quickly books out up to a year prior to the event.
Meanwhile, accommodation facilities can also be limited, making now the time to consider booking for the Goroka Show 2018.
PNG Air, Air Niugini and Southwest Air all have flights from Port Moresby to Goroka, but seats fill fast, so book your air transfers well in advance.
Buses and hire cars are also available to drive from Port Moresby.
Gudmundur (Gummi) Fridriksson, is the CEO of Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Ltd, overseeing the development of Paga Hill Estate, a world-class, master planned estate located in the heart of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Gudmundur first arrived in Papua New Guinea over 20 years ago and is passionate about sharing PNG’s natural beauty and diverse cultures with the world. Find out more about Gummi Fridriksson on his website: http://www.gummifridriksson.com/and about the Paga Hill Estate development at http://www.pagahillestate.com/