Celebrate the arrival of summer on the island of Rapa Nui, Chile among the mysterious moai statues.
In spite of being known as the most remote inhabited island in the world, weird doesn’t begin to cover the strange veil of mystique and mythology that surrounds Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui. Located in the Pacific Ocean and marks the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Every February, which is the beginning of summer for the Rapa Nui people, the Island celebrates the oncoming season with great vigour and splendour.
Unlike most island festivals, which pride themselves in their exotic attractions, Tapati Rapa Nui, since its conception, has been a festival for locals and by locals, rather than a tourist attraction. This may stem from the fact that, since its inception in the late ’60s, Tapati Rapa Nui has always been about celebrating the Polynesian pride, and it never fails to do so even today. One of the most respectful cultural festivals out there, anyone attending Tapati Rapa Nui is welcomed warmly and enveloped into the culturally vast and authentic gathering that is this festival.
(Source: Nicolas de Camaret Creative Commons)
One of the most distinguishing, as well as infamous, features of the Easter Island are the massive 887 moai statues that litter the island. The world is unbeknownst to the statues’ meaning and purpose, and with each year, more theories and conspiracies arise concerning the island, the statues, and the Rapa Nui people who once lived there arise. Some of the most intriguing theories surrounding the island include talk of the moai harbouring mystical powers and the island itself is said to have been visited by extraterrestrials.
If you appreciate the exotic in a rustic environment, coupled with a touch of mystique, this may become one of your new favorite cultural festivals. All 5,700 inhabitants of Easter Island are wonderfully in shape, ready for the challenging extravaganza that is the Tapati Rapa Nui festival. During the two weeks in February that the fiesta takes place, the Island is alive with traditional music, dance, sport, and fireworks. Since the festival is all about celebrating the Polynesian traditions, ancient traditional sports such as the Rapa Nui Triathlon, as well as the haka pei – which is a sort of sledding competition, down a hill on a banana tree trunk – also takes place. During the evenings, there are traditional feasts, with many younger residents along with veterans dancing to the sweet strums of the ukulele until the wee hours of dawn.
(Source: Carlos Oliver Creative Commons)
Amidst the festivities, a competition for the Queen of Tapati commences, and on the final night of the event, she is crowned. With a hearty victory dance and pounding drums, the coronation culminates the last evening of the festival. Other activities to lose yourself in at the festival include surfing, spear fishing, and traditional body decoration. The heart of this festival lies not in the quantity of people that show up or the fame it garners the Island. This indigenous culture’s annual festival would happen with or without cameras. And that’s where it’s authenticity lies.
(Source: Robert Nyman Creative Commons)
If you do plan to visit this enchanting Island in South America, a good place to begin would be the Rapa Nui National Park. Make sure you immerse yourself in the beautiful culture and take part in the dances and parades for an immersive experience. As of now, only LAN Airlines will fly you to the Island, but trust us when we tell you that the experience is worth it.