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EVENTS AT A GLANCE
Many scheduled events in 2020 have been cancelled. This is an updated calendar with details of what is and isn't confirmed for the remainder of the year. Events are in Rarotonga unless otherwise stated. Click on underlined items for more details.
IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO VISIT IN 2021...click here to see what normally takes place when

AND IN MORE DETAIL....
20-27 NOVEMBER: VAKA EIVA (Canoeing Festival)
Confirmed as local event only
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.  And it's now an annual event and proably the biggest sporting event of the year, with a host of fun activities as well as the races.   Upwards of 850 competitors compete in  around 100 teams.  The Association has its own web site with full details and videos .
Gospel days are held on each of the islands and celebrate the arrival of Christianity through dramas which re-enact aspects of this event.   Some very original and very modern approaches are taken.   On Rarotonga for example, motorbike riders resembling Rambo were a memorable feature of a past event!  The days are organised by the Christian Church in the Cook Islands (CICC).  Very photogenic, and loads of fun!      Find out more  Photo: Cook Islands News
The event also includes a competition among the Islands to build and race a canoe built in the traditional manner by carving a tree trunk.
Competitor registration is now open.  Email for details

Rowers
Mangaia team
Traditional canoe
Special Events in the 2020 Cook Islands Calendar - Revised
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT/COPYRIGHT: The Vaka Eiva photos on this page are the work of a very talented photographer, Harvie Allison.   They are reproduced with his kind permission, and in order to protect his copyright, I have added an indelible, hidden watermark which is instantly traceable back to this site.   So...do not reuse thse pictures...please contact Harv for his permission.  And I also recommend highly a look at his website which includes many more superb photographs. 
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Decorated for turama
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 (2nd November) when people gather at gravesides, laugh about happy times and tell stories of their departed loved ones.


Laying flowers
1 NOVEMBER: TURAMA CONFIRMED
JULY TO OCTOBER:  WHALE WATCHING SEASON
Whales swim close to shore off the Cook Islands
HUmpback breaching off Rarotonga
Nobody organises this one, but for many visitors it's the event of a lifetime!  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)

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. 
Watch a short video about Turama
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Continue the tour
In the weeks immediately before Christmas, the Rotoract Club of Rarotonga organise events, which also raise loads of money for community projects.   The emphasis is on families having fun.  Details are announced around November time.  The pictures below are of a huge picnic in the park which was the highlight two years ago and is typical of the type of events.
Picnic in the park
Santa's arrived!
DECEMBER: CHRISTMAS EVENTS   NOT CONFIRMED
JULY TO OCTOBER
Whale watching season
AUGUST
Manihiki Gospel Day, 8th
Rakahanga Gospel Day, 15th
SEPTEMBER
Round Raro road race, 19-20th CONFIRMED (local & virtual)



By law the following are PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
Every Sunday
Good Friday and Easter Monday
Christmas Day and Boxing Day
New Year's Day and 2nd January
Anzac Day (25th April each year)
Queen's Birthday (HRH Queen Elizabeth II): 1st June in 2020
Ra O Te Ui Ariki (House of Ariki) public holiday: 3 July in 2020
Constitution Day - 4th August in 2020
*Not Palmerston which celebrates the birthday of the late Queen Victoria instead
OCTOBER
Cook Islands Games, 3-17 CONFIRMED
Aitutaki Gospel Day, 26th
National gospel day (Nuku), 26th - public holiday
NOVEMBER
Turama, 1st
Vaka Eiva Festival 20-27 Nov NOT CONFIRMED
Tiare (flower) festival, 27 Nov-4 Dec  NOT CONFIRMED
DECEMBER
Pukapuka Gospel Day, 6th
Christmas in the park, Rarotonga   NOT CONFIRMED


WANT TO KNOW MORE?  Find out where and how to see the whales in our whale watching guide
Gospel day on Rarotonga
19-20 SEPTEMBER: ROUND RARO ROAD RACE (AND OTHER RUNS)
CONFIRMED - LOCAL AND VIRTUAL EVENT
Round Raro race 2017
Top international athletes, veterans and "nutters" share their love of running in this annual event but this year, it's a bit different. Locals are being invited to take part in a 3 x31 km relay race.Through a partnership with CMS Lateral in Australia, the virtual option is now live, giving overseas competitors a chance to run 31km, 10km or a smaller 3.1km race wherever they are in the world
Photo: Cook Islands News
WANT TO KNOW MORE?  To register for the Round Rarotonga 31km run or get your mates together for the 10km run - write to events@dmck.co.ck
FOR MORE ABOUT GOSPEL DAYS CLICK HERE
27 NOVEMBER-4 DECEMBER: TE MIRE TIARE (FLOWER) FESTIVAL WEEK
NOT CONFIRMED
The sight and scent of flowers is everywhere on Rarotonga during this week long annual festival.  Highlights include a float parade, a pageant to choose Miss Tiare and competitions for the best decorated businesses and government buildings.
Photos: Cook Islands News (left) and Ministry of Cultural Development (right)


Tiare parade
Tiare float
ALL EVENTS ARE SUBJECT TO POSTPONEMENT OR CANCELLATION AS PART OF MEASURES TO KEEP OUT CORONAVIRUS
3-17 OCTOBER: COOK ISLANDS GAMES  CONFIRMED
Team Cook Islands
It may not be on the same scale, but the Cook Islands Games is being billed as an Olympics for the nation. Eleven island teams will compete in this special event for 2020 organised by the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee. They're describing it as "a celebration of sport, a celebration of our islands and a celebration of our nation." It's the first sporting event since lockdown.  Arrangements are still being made and more details will be added here when they're announced.
Photo left: Part of Team Cook Islands at the London 2012 Olympics (author's own picture)