Hundreds of tribes gather, painted and dressed in traditional regalia which features face paints in vibrant colors made from natural materials, plumage from native birds, seashells, and palm branches. The festivals began when PNG was under Australian rule in 1957. Australian officials staged the first such festival as a competition among tribes in Goroka, capital of the Eastern Highlands Province, in an effort to determine how the regions were organized.
The tribes perform war-dances, share ancestral songs and stories, and use musical instruments created by hand from the resources in their region. The festivals include demonstrations of tribal funeral rituals, courtship dances, and male initiation rites.