What are the Public Holidays in Tonga?
Don’t want your trip to Tonga to clash with a public holiday? Or perhaps you want to see how Tongans celebrate special events? You might even be on a work visa in Tonga wondering when you’re going to get your next day off. Whatever the reason, we’ve put together this handy guide for the public holidays in Tonga. What’s more, we’ve even included a few more important dates that you need to know. How nice! Check them out in our guide to public holidays in Tonga.
Overview: Public Holidays in Tonga
In short, the list of public holidays in Tonga is as follows:
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- Changeable between March 22 and April 25 – Good Friday
- Changeable between March 22 and April 25 – Easter Monday
- April 25 – ANZAC Day
- The Monday following June 4 – Emancipation Day
- July 4 (if it falls on a Sunday, will be moved to the following Monday) – King Tupou VI’s Birthday
- September 17 – Birthday of Crown Prince
- The Monday following November 4 – Tonga Day
- The Monday following December 4 – King Tupou I Day
- December 25 – Christmas Day
- December 26 – Boxing Day
Public holiday dates for the upcoming year are published on the Prime Minister’s Office website.
Official Public Holidays in Tonga and Why They are Celebrated
Tonga’s public holidays are determined by a mix of Christian holidays and important dates concerning Tonga’s royal family. Here is a list of the public holidays in Tonga and why each public holiday is celebrated.
New Year’s Day
The New Year’s Day public holiday is on January 1 each year. Public servants also get a day off on January 2. Tonga is the first country in the world to celebrate New Year’s Day due to its position near the International Date Line, as explained in What is the Tonga Time Zone? Check out Where to Spend New Year’s Eve in Tonga for ideas on how to celebrate.
Good Friday is part of the Easter celebrations in Tonga. Dates are changeable from year to year and are determined by being the first Friday after the paschal full moon. Easter Sunday is also a holiday, but not an official public holiday as Tonga’s businesses do not operate on a Sunday anyway.
The Monday after Good Friday and Easter Sunday is known as “Easter Monday” and is a national public holiday in Tonga. Learn more about the Easter holidays in The Guide to Easter in Tonga.
ANZAC stands for “Australia and New Zealand Army Corps”. ANZAC Day is commemorated on April 25 when forces landed at Gallipoli to fight the Turks over 100 years ago. The public holiday date always stays the same on April 25.
Emancipation Day is a day to commemorate when King Tupou I officially abolished serfdom in Tonga on June 4 1862. This meant that commoners were freed from the virtual ownership of chiefs. The public holiday takes place on the Monday following June 4.
King Tupou VI’s Birthday
Although the current king’s real birthday is on July 12, the King’s Birthday public holiday is observed on July 4 or the following Monday if the 4th falls on a Sunday. Celebrations take the form of the Heilala Festival, which lasts for one to three weeks. See the 10 Biggest Events in Tonga to learn more about this event.
Birthday of the Crown Prince
September 17 is the birthday of the next heir to the throne, Prince Tupoto’a-‘Ulukalala. The date of this public holiday will change depending on who is the heir at the time.
Tonga’s National Day is November 4 to commemorate the adoption of its constitution on this date in 1875. The original name for the public holiday was Constitution Day but it was changed in 2006 to celebrate the entire culture and heritage of Tonga.
King Tupou I Day
This day commemorates the first in the Tupou line of kings, Taufa’ahau, who became known as King George Tupou I. The public holiday is every December 1 or the following Monday if it falls on a weekend.
Like many countries across the world, Christmas Day is a major holiday in Tonga. December 25 is a public holiday. Find out about the Christmas traditions in our guide, Where to Spend Christmas in Tonga.
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, on December 26, and is also seen as a public holiday.
Other Important Dates in Tonga
What are other dates in the Tongan calendar that you need to be aware of when visiting The Kingdom? Here are some more important dates to know, as well as a word about spontaneous public holidays.
Special Events in Tonga
Tonga recognises a few other special events each year, such as the following:
- Heilala Festival – Starts with the King’s birthday at the beginning of July. The festival lasts from one to three weeks.
- Free Wesleyan Church Conference – A week of speeches, church get-togethers and marching bands for Tonga’s largest Christian denomination. It happens in the same week as the Heilala Festival.
- Vava’u Blue Water Festival – A type of regatta festival happening at the end of September each year for about a week.
- Faka-Sepitema – Women of the Wesleyan churches will dress all in white for a roll call at their churches throughout September.
- New Year’s Eve – Locals see in the New Year with community feasts and going to church or the younger locals may party in Nuku’alofa’s bars.
Learn more about these events and more in the 10 Biggest Events in Tonga.
Spontaneous Public Holidays
The Tongan Government are even known to announce one-off public holidays so workers can enjoy a spontaneous day off. For instance, November 15 2019 was declared a public holiday to celebrate the Tonga Invitational XIII rugby league team’s win against Great Britain and the World Champion Australians.
More About Important Dates and Public Holidays in Tonga
That’s it for our guide to the national public holidays in Tonga. Learn more about important dates and national events in the following guides:
- The Top Events & Festivals in Tonga This Year
- The Guide to the Tongan Culture and Traditions
- 10 Biggest Events in Tonga
Finally, fill up the rest of your time on the islands with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List.