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Written By : Peter Lomas. Tongans who can are heading to Nuku’alofa this month. Anyone else who wants to see a blend of ancient tradition and timeless culture with modern
10 Jul 2010 12:00

image Written By : Peter Lomas. Tongans who can are heading to Nuku’alofa this month.
Anyone else who wants to see a blend of ancient tradition and timeless culture with modern entertainment is invited to Tonga too.
It’s festival time in the kingdom’s capital.
Nuku’alofa is about to come alive with 12 days of celebration.
This Tuesday the 30th annual Heilala Festival will begin. It will run until the 24th of this month. and coincide with the celebration of the birthday of Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka.
The heart of the activities will be the Heilala Village in downtown Nuku’alofa.
A highlight will be the Miss Heilala Pageant, with entrants from Tonga and Tongan communities overseas.
Miss Heilala represents Tonga in the Miss South Pacific pageant, due to be held this year in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She also plays a continuing role helping the Tonga Visitors Bureau and the tourism industry promote Tonga.
The Heilala Festival, named after Tonga’s national flower, was first organised in 1980 by the Tonga Visitors Bureau and the Tonga Tourism Association.
The aim was to celebrate the birthday of the then King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, and same time promote Tonga as a tourism destination.
Tonga Visitors Bureau chief executive Sakopo Lolohea says: “Many people overseas make plans every year to come to Tonga during the Heilala Festival.
“They feel that this is a good time to be in Tonga.
“We want to foster that feeling.
“The 30th Heilala Festival will be a great opportunity to promote Tongan business and communities.”
Amongst those joining this year’s celebrations will be the award-winning New Zealand roots reggae band “Three Houses Down”. Eight of the band are New Zealand Tongans.

Amidst the daily activities of the festival, highlights include:
Wednesday 14th July 7:00 pm Cultural Evening (Miss Heilala Junior Tau’olunga) Venue: Heilala Village.
Thursday 15th July 7:00 pm Cultural Evening (Mako, Tau’olunga Tokolahi, Tau’olunga Tuifio (Group Mix)) Venue: Heilala Village.
Friday 16th July 11:00 am Heilala Festival 30th Anniversary Programme – Flashback Venue: Janfull International Dateline Hotel 6:00 pm Heilala Festival Block Party Taufa’ahau Road, Downtown Nuku’alofa
Saturday 17th July 10:00 am Heilala Festival Family Fun Fair (coconut variety competition, baby show, flower arrangements, kids games) Venue: Heilala Village. 6:00 pm Tonga’s Got Talent Venue: Heilala Village.
Sunday 18th July 10:00 am Church Service, FWC Centenary Church (Miss Heilala Contestants) 6:00 pm Heilala Festival Choral evening with Western Union.
Monday 19th July 9:00 am Handicraft Exhibitions Venue: Heilala Village, 10:00 am Miss Heilala Pre-Pageant Interview, 1st Judging Event Venue: Tonga National Cultural Centre 8:00 pm Heilala Festival Opening Reception
Tuesday 20th July 9:00 am Handicraft Exhibitions Venue: Heilala Village, 8:00 pm Miss Heilala Tau’olunga, 2nd Judging Event Venue: Heilala Village, Downtown Nuku’alofa
Wednesday 21st July 9:00 am Handicraft Exhibitions Venue: Heilala Village. 7:00 pm Final Night – Up With The Stars Venue: Heilala Village.
Thursday 22nd July 9:00 am Handicraft Exhibitions Venue: Heilala Village, 8:00 pm MISS HEILALA ELEGANCE NIGHT Miss Heilala Sarong, Talent, Contemporary Island Creation (Final Judging Events) Venue: Heilala Village.
Friday 23rd July 9:00 am Handicraft Exhibitions Venue: Heilala Village, Downtown Nuku’alofa 8:00 pm HEILALA 30th Anniversary GRAND BALL Special entertainment by the Former Miss Heilala Queens. CROWNING OF MISS HEILALA 2010
Saturday 24th 11:00 am Heilala Festival 2010 Float Parade Venue: Teufaiva Stadium – Taufa’ahau Road – Vuna Road – Tuimatamoana Fish Market

Air Pacific operates from both Nadi and Suva to Tonga’s Fua’amotu International Airport.

Tonga has a wide range of accommodation, from budget guesthouses to hotels. Here’s the main hotels in the Nuku’alofa town area, and the main motels and lodges:

(popularly known as Papiloa’s Place).
The Friendly Islander is 20 minutes walk – or five minutes by taxi – from the heart of Nuku’alofa along the Vuna Road waterfront parade.
Pioneering woman in business and politics Papiloa Foliaki operates it.
Accommodation, set in tropical gardens, is comfortable but not flash. Nuku’alofa’s waterfront “restaurant row” is nearby
If you’re doing business in Tonga and need introductions and help making connections, this could be your place. Papiloa will happily help.

The International Dateline, on the Vuna Road waterfront parade, has long been Tonga’s flagship hotel.
It is now operated by the Chinese group Janfull, which took over from the Government.
But while prices are high, expectations for a much improved hotel have not yet been met despite upgrading works.

Angelo and Meleseini Crapanzano’s Little Italy Hotel is rapidly winning a reputation as THE hotel to stay in Nuku’alofa.
This new 22-room establishment is on the waterfront an easy 15-minute walk from downtown.
It is not far from the site of the original Italian pizzeria where Angelo, from Milan, built his Tongan reputation.
The hotel, with an expanded restaurant on the premises, is now winning similar plaudits.
Place to stay: One of Little Italy’s Oceanview rooms.

Hotel Nuku’alofa is clean and convenient.
A friendly, eager-to-help staff make up for its age and basic amenities.
The handy upstairs location in town on Taufa’ahau Road gives an easy walk to many places.
SandyBoyz Motel is a lively spot in a prime downtown location on Taufa’ahau Road.
Its Kavakava bar, when open, has been known to swing.
The SandyBoyz owner, the Honourable Lasike, is heavily involved in efforts to revive Tongan boxing.
Waterfront Lodge and Restaurant, along Vuna Road out near the main wharves, is Italian run. The rooms are big, comfortable and well appointed.
The restaurant is popular.
Black Pearl Suites at Sopu, on the western waterfront just out of the town area, is said to be amongst the most comfortable accommodation establishments in Nuku’alofa. The restaurant upstairs is highly regarded.
Seaview Lodge and Restaurant, run by Gudrun and Franz Strauss, has a deserved reputation for quality food and cosy accommodation with a German-Austrian touch.

The Royal Tonga International Hotel was opened near Fua’amotu International Airport, 17 kilometres from Nuku’alofa, in 2007.

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