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New Caledonia - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for New Caledonia

Traditional <i>case</i> (Kanak house) near Pouebo, Grande Terre Visas: Only citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the USA can enter without a visa, and can stay for between 30 and 90 days, except for Japanese and US citizens, who can only stay for one month. Everyone else needs to apply for a visa at a French embassy or consulate before they arrive.
Health risks: Dengue Fever
Time: GMT/UTC +11
Dialling Code: 687
Electricity: 220V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go to New Caledonia

Go whenever you can seize the chance. If you're nervous about cyclones or mosquitoes you might consider staying home between November and April, or you may want to plan your trip around one or two festivals, such as the Avocado Festival in mid to late May, the three-day Foire de Bourail from late August to early September, or the Équinoxe in October. If you're a diver, don't miss the riot of colour that accompanies the coral spawning in early summer.

New Caledonia Events

The most important Kanak festival, the Festival of the Yam is held in mid-March, although it is not generally open to tourists. Like the French everywhere, New Caledonians celebrate Bastille Day on 14 July. Families and children carrying lanterns gather at dusk on the night before and walk through the streets to Place des Cocotiers, then they let loose a display of fireworks. On the day they hold a military parade in the morning. Mid to late May is the busiest time for festivals, with the Avocado Festival at Nece; Maré to celebrate the harvest; La Regate des Touques in Noumea, when people race in decorative floats along Anse Vata; and Pacific Tempo, a three-day music festival in Noumea with performers from all over the Pacific.

The Foire de Bourail is a huge country fair with a rodeo, cattle show, horse racing and a beauty pageant in late August or early September. New Caledonia Day on 24 September commemorates Admiral Auguste Febvrier Despointes' claim to New Caledonia for France in 1853; whites have a day off work while the Kanaks consider it a day of mourning. The Équinoxe is a biennial festival of contemporary theatre, dance and music in Noumea in October, and later that month or in early November a popular Sound and Light Show is staged at Fort Tremba, La Foa.

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