Always host to big action underwater, this summer the Republic of Palau plays host to plenty of action on the stage and in the studio as well. Home of the 9th Festival of Pacific Arts, Palau will welcome performers and artists from throughout the Pacific for a ten-day exchange and celebration of regional culture, the largest event ever held in Palau. Established as a way to promote a deeper understanding of cultures, the quadrennial Festival provides great diversion for divers as well. Throughout the Festival, artists and performers will demonstrate traditional activities including dance, carving, traditional navigation, traditional medicine and healing crafts, traditional culinary arts, jewelry, beadwork, costume pageants, tattooing and many more. Exhibitions and displays will continue well into the evenings providing divers with an alternative to the local nightlife and a great way to fill that awkward surface interval before the inevitable flight home.
The theme of this year's Festival Oltobed A Malt: Nurture, Regenerate, Celebrate - reflects an increasing emphasis on preservation of local culture and customs as well as a growing dedication to preserving the environment that makes the waters, reefs and islands of Palau so special. Set against the moan of the conch and the slice of outriggers through translucent waters, an expected 4,000 visitors will be entertained by artists dedicated to preserving traditional arts and culture. Delegations of performers from twenty-six of the twenty-seven invited countries are already slated to attend. Expect to see the fearsome dance of the Maoris of New Zealand, the intricate carvings of storyboard artists from Palau and the sway of as many styles of grass skirts as there are nations represented.
The 9th Festival of Pacific Arts runs from July 22-31, 2004. For divers, July is a great time to check out the small creatures that make up so much of Palau's legendary underwater diversity - but the sharks are at Blue Corner all summer, too. And although the drop-offs and corners of Palau's natural environment are breathtaking, wreck diving on the many Japanese battleships is also very popular. Throughout the summer, weather conditions are slightly less predictable than at other times of the year, but with indoor and outdoor venues, the Festival will provide ample opportunities to entertain yourself should the water get too choppy for your tastes. The Festival also provides a great distraction for a partner who wants to accompany you to Palau but isn't thrilled by a three-dive-a-day schedule. To find out more about the Festival check out the official website at www.festival-pacific-arts.org or contact the Palau Visitors Authority at www.visit-palau.com.