This week the 2011 Heilala Festival has been unfolding in typically entertaining Tongan style. After the music and fun of Friday’s terrific Block Party, competition for this year’s Miss Heilala began with plenty of dancing, singing and attractions in between.

Heilala kicked off with a festival favourite, the Block Party. This year’s theme was Go for Red, a tribute to Tonga’s much-loved National Rugby Team. Everyone was encouraged to wear Ikale Tahi red to support the team in the lead up to this year’s Rugby World Cup. The Team made an appearance at the Block Party to enthusiastic crowds. Three stages along the main road hosted performers of all kinds including hip hop and church bands.

On Monday crowds convened on Heilala Village for Tonga’s Got Talent, an event showcasing some of the country’s most gifted youngsters. The winners, five kids calling themselves the Skywalker Group, performed a crowd-pleasing hip hop routine. Tuesday saw young girls from across Tonga representing their villages in the Miss Tau’olunga Junior and Miss Tau’olunga Pre-Teen events. Their gorgeous costumes and beautiful dancing delighted the crowds. All five Miss Heilala contestants then danced their own tau’olunga in a second judging event. Wednesday hosted the Cultural Evening, an opportunity for fire-dancers and performers of traditional Tongan arts to showcase their talents.

Last night saw a popular combination of entertainment and Miss Heilala competition in one of the Festival’s biggest events. Suliana’s Polynesian Danc e Group opened the night with a sensational display of Tahitian dance. The beautiful Miss Heilala contestants were introduced to the crowd wearing their Island Creation – an original dress, self-designed and made entirely from local Tongan materials. All designs were exquisite and it was evident the girls had made an enormous effort in planning and creating the stunning outfits.

Next was the sarong section where contestants took to the stage wrapped in inventively tied sarongs. Finally the talent section demonstrated just how accomplished this year’s contestents really are. The crowd was treated to a variety of dancing, singing and music performed by some of Tonga’s most extraordinary young women. The efforts of all Miss Heilala contestants will be acknowledged at tonight’s Ball, held at the International Dateline Hotel. The crowning of this year’s Miss Heilala will be the highlight of the Ball.

The Heilala Festival will continue over the coming weekend culminating in Monday’s float parade and incorporating events commemorating His Majesty the King’s birthday including the military tattoo.