Celebrating the New Year in Samoa
Samoa is one of the first countries (well, technically the first) in the world to celebrate the New Year, making it a pretty noteworthy place to visit for fans of this annual event. As well as fireworks displays and resorts offering spectacular New Year’s feasts, there are even ways to celebrate the New Year twice! In short, there are many reasons to celebrate the New Year in Samoa.
Plan your New Year’s getaway with this guide on how to spend the New Year in Samoa.
How to Say “Happy New Year” in Samoan
Happy New Year in Samoan is “Manuia le Tausaga Fou!” Learn more about the local language in our guide, What is the Samoa Language?
New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Samoa
Villages and ‘aiga (families) across Samoa all have their own ways of celebrating New Year’s Eve, but most of the action when it comes to public events happens on the island of Upolu, particularly in Apia.
Apia NYE Fireworks Displays
Like many developed countries in the world and as the most developed town in Samoa, Apia puts on fun-filled fireworks displays for New Year’s Eve. Needless to say, there’s a countdown on 31 December up until midnight on 1 January with fireworks lighting up the sky. The fireworks usually launch from Palisi, which can be seen across Apia with the best spots often being the seawall and the roadsides.
The Best Samoa Restaurants and Bars for New Year’s Eve
- The Edge Marina, Apia
- Cocktails on the Rocks, Apia
- RoSA Nightclub & Bar, Apia
- Club-75, Apia
- Lapita Restaurant, Taumeasina Resort, Apia
- Sinalei Beachside Restaurant, Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Siumu
- NightHawk, Salelologa, Savai’i
- Lava Rock Bar, Saleaula, Savai’i.
Note that you’ll need to book a table at the resort restaurants listed. Find out more about the bars listed in the 10 Best Bars in Samoa, as well as popular restaurants in The 20 Best Restaurants in Samoa.
Why is Samoa the First in the World to Celebrate the New Year?
Samoa is the first in the world to celebrate the New Year because of its position closest to the west side of the International Date Line. In other words, Samoa’s time zone is the first time zone. You can learn more about its position on the International Date Line in What is the Samoa Time Zone? Interestingly, Samoa wasn’t always the first to celebrate the New Year…
On Thursday 29 December 2011, Samoa shifted time zones from east of the International Date Line to west, skipping Friday 30 December completely! The country went from being one of the last countries to celebrate the New Year to the first. The time zone was changed to bring it in line with its closest trading partners, New Zealand and Australia.
How to Celebrate the New Year Twice by Travelling From Samoa to American Samoa
That’s right, it is possible to experience New Year’s Eve twice by celebrating in Samoa, flying to American Samoa, and celebrating there again.
If you celebrate the New Year on the western side of the International Date Line in Samoa, then travel to the eastern side of the Date Line to American Samoa, you’ll be travelling “back in time”. There’s a 24-hour time difference between Samoa and American Samoa, yet just a 35-minute flight, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the New Year twice!
Learn more about Samoa and American Samoa in our guide, What’s the Difference Between Samoa and American Samoa? Plus, check out airlines that fly between Samoa and American Samoa in our other guide, Which Airlines Fly Directly to Samoa?
The New Year Public Holidays and Other Public Holidays in Samoa
It’s important to note that New Year’s Day (1 January) and the day after New Year’s Day (2 January) are both official public holidays. This means that many shops, businesses and services will be closed or have reduced operating hours. It’s best to not try to organise too much on these days; make these the days you relax at your resort or beach fale or do a self-guided tiki tour around the island and check out Samoa’s natural attractions (which are usually operating as normal except for Sunday hours – remember to pay your entry fees).
New Year’s Day and the day after are just a couple of several public holidays in Samoa experienced throughout the year. Other public holidays in Samoa include:
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- January 2 – Day after New Year’s Day
- Friday before Easter Sunday – Good Friday
- Saturday after Good Friday – Day after Good Friday
- Monday after Easter Sunday – Easter Monday
- Monday after the second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day
- June 1 – Independence Day
- Monday after the second Sunday in August – Father’s Day
- Monday after the second Sunday in October – White Sunday
- December 25 – Christmas
- December 26 – Boxing Day
Note that if any public holiday dates fall on a weekend, the next Monday (and Tuesday in some cases) is observed as the national public holiday. Learn more about what each day listed above entails in the Public Holidays in Samoa (& Other Important Dates).
More About Samoa’s New Year’s Events
That’s it for our complete guide to New Year’s Eve in Samoa. Need more New Year’s inspiration or perhaps something to do for Christmas? Check out these guides:
- Samoa Christmas Ideas: How to Spend Christmas in Samoa
- The Top Events & Festivals in Samoa This Year
- 5 Biggest Festivals in Samoa
Finally, fill up the rest of your time in the islands with the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.