22 Jul 2004

Hundreds expected to witness beginning of Pacific Arts Festival

11:03 am on 22 July 2004

The ninth festival of Pacific Arts has begun in the Republic of Palau, with a flotilla of traditional canoes that sailed from the capital city of Koror early this morning.

Palau is hosting about 6,000 visitors from over 27 different countries who have come to showcase their traditional art and culture.

The programme for the opening ceremony involved a dawn ceremony to welcome the flotilla as the were to ride five kilometres north-east of the capital to Irae.

Hundreds of people were expected to get up early to celebrate their arrival.

The canoes represent the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Yap, Guam and Palau states.

It is the first time the northern part of the Pacific has hosted this festival, which only takes place every four years.

A medical boat was to be on standby to ferry people across in case of an emergency, given the heavy build-up of traffic around Koror, where most of the festivities over the next ten days will be held.

Although the weather forecast is fine with light showers today, it is not expected to dampen the mood for the opening ceremony at the national track and field stadium.