What is it like to visit the Mount Hagen Festival in Papua New Guinea

After three years out of the game due to Covid-19 the Mount Hagen Festival finally made a comeback in August of 2022, but what exactly is the festival about and is it worth a visit? The News of The World headed for a look see.

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What the Mount Hogan Festival?

Located in the Mount Hagen highlands region of the basket case that is Ppaua New Guinea, much like the Goroka festival it was formed initially at least as a way to stop tribes fighting each other.

Of course as these things go what eventually happened was that instead it was turned into a nice homely thing for tourists, well at least compared to the hell that is Port Moresby.

The festival itself involves under 100 of the thousands of tribes that populate Papua New Guinea coming to Mount Hagen getting dressed, or indeed going topless for many women and dancing around for foreigners.

And of course it regularly attracts both tourists and media alike to the frenzy.

What to do at the Mount Hagan Festival?

For us at least we decided to do some pre-festival village stuff, which involved visiting an the village of our hosts and for the men dressing up, and for some of the women at least going topless.

We were also showed much native dancing, as well as being introduced to the warrior elder, who apparently had more than a hundred kills under his belt – pre-Christianity of course.

We were also treated to adding known as MuMu, which is a rather delicious wild boar cooked underground on heated stones.

Slightly less “delicious” was how the pigs were quite literally clubbed to death in front of our eyes. Not exactly a PETA friendly trip, but still slightly less weird than if you were to visit the semen tribe of PNG.

You can read about the semen tribe of Papua New Guinea here.

And the Mount Hagan Festival itself?

Located on a rugby league pitch (the national sport of the country) in 2022 at least it involved us watching s the tribes came in, danced a bit and let us take photos. We are told that compared to other years there was much less of program than previous years.

Day two was in fact more of the same, but overall it still provided plenty of chances for the camera clickers to shoot a splice of PNG tribal life?

Is the Mount Hagan Festival authentic?

One slate you will often hear about the Mount Hagan festival is that it is no longer authentic, but this is frankly a gross over-simplification and ignores the real on the ground facts of Papua New Guinea.

PNG still has many undiscovered people, but it has a continuum from people living western lifestyles to villagers, semi-contacted people and finally the unconnected.

A point duly explained to us by our local guide Gillian who stated “We still for the most part live with your tribes, but we only get dressed up like for the festival and for special occasions like weddings. We do this as a way to connect with our culture. But people need to understand that we don’t want to develop, not walk around wearing grass with our chests out”.

Once again case in point that the people complaining about lack of authenticity, woke as they may be are actually also complaining about development in the boonies of Papua New Guinea.

Yes, it is not exactly trekking in the jungle, but for a two day glimpse into the old live of the tribes of PNG, you really cannot go wrong with visiting the Mount Hagan festival.