Tapati Rapa Nui is a two week festival held in early February; we were fortunate to be there for the last three days of the 2012 celebration. The island's population increases about 50% during this time and the island wakes up from its normally quiet South Pacific demeanor.
The festival involves cultural, music, dance and sports competitions between two "clans"; the winning clan has their nominee for queen crowned at the end of the two weeks. The athletic competitions are probably the most interesting: canoe and bareback horse races, spear throwing into a banana tree trunk, "luging" down the steep slope of an extinct volcano at 40 mph on a sled made of two banana tree trunks tied together, and a Rapa Nui version of the triathelon: paddle across a crater lake on a reed raft, run aound the lake with two bunches of bananas, then cross the lake again on the reed raft.
The delightful parade was held the night before the coronation and we thoroughly enjoyed the floats, music, and dancing. Hundreds of islanders, and tourists too, have their scantily clad bodies painted from an earthen palate (ie: mud). Points are awarded for the complexity and beauty of the painting.
We attended the coronation which began at 2200; after about ninety minutes of music and dance entertainment, the moment arrived. A light rain started just as the queen was announced, then the plastic chairs we were sitting on quickly became "umbrellas". We made our way to the street, paid an inflated taxi fare to the hotel and called it a day.
Cece (from our tour group) Joined in the Fun!!