Festivals

hula halau
Hula is featured at many festivals in Hawai’i and a hallmark of the Annual Merrie Monarch Festival in April.

There are many aspects of the Island worth celebrating and there is no shortage of events throughout the year to do just that. Curious what may be going on while you’re on island? From monthly street and art strolls to agricultural and film festivals there is something for everyone to enjoy. Let us know your interests and we’ll direct you to noteworthy Big Island experiences. Here are some of our favorite highlights:

“Kokua Kailua” Village Stroll and Hulihe`e Palace Performance, Monthly – KAILUA-KONA

The street thru historic Kailua Village turns to pedestrian-only traffic from 1 pm till 6 pm. Walk along the waterfront on Ali’i Drive and enjoy 100+ vendor booths, ocean side restaurants, local musician performances, & artists. Along this stretch lies Hulihe’e Palace, historically the summer residence for Hawaiian royalty. During the stroll, The Daughters of Hawai’i organization presents free Hawaiian music and hula on the Palace’s South Lawn at 4 pm. Bring your own beach mat or chair for this timeless experience. For more info about the Palace event, email hulihee@ilhawaii.net. For more info about Kokua Kailua, email HKVevents@yahoo.com or visit historickailuavillage.com.

First Friday Celebration, Monthly – HOLUALOA VILLAGE

Prefer the art scene? On Kona’s coffee belt lies historic Holualoa Village. There it holds a block party and “Art-after-Dark” event the first Friday of the month. Galleries feature new art and artists, tasty street eats and music all along Mamalahoa Highway through town from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The village block party features art and artists in over a dozen galleries and shops, as well as free live music and a great selection of local food vendors. This community event is free, and for all ages.

January

‘Iolani Luahine Hula Festival – KEAUHOU, KONA

The annual ‘Iolani Luahine Hula Festival is held at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. Since 2003 the ‘Iolani Luahine Festival vision is to perpetuate hula and serves to honor the memory of kumu hula (hula teacher) ‘Iolani Luahine and her efforts to preserve hula and Hawaiian culture. The festival includes hula presentations and a challenge to kumu hula. Top prize goes to the kumu best demonstrating the values of ‘Iolani Luahine: education and Hawaiian culture. Hula presentations will feature makuahine, makuakane and kupuna hula presentations. The hula presentations on both days are a free with donations accepted. Also featured are hula workshops. There is also a Hawaiian music benefit concert with tickets available online and at the door. The festival also offers an opportunity to check out Hawaiian arts and crafts by local artisans. For tickets, workshop registration, or more information about the festival, please visit www.iolaniluahinefestival.org.

February

Asian Fest – WAIKOLOA BEACH RESORT

Celebrate with vibrant Lion Dancers and the rhythms of drums from around the world. And, make sure you have your lycee (red envelope) ready with “lettuce” to feed the Lion and ensure good health and fortune in the coming year. More than Chinese New Year, Asian Fest brings together the fun and fascinating Far East traditions that came to Hawai`i and still inspire residents and visitors. Arrive early for this popular event known for its featured food samples from Waikoloa and Kohala Coast restaurants with an Asian flair.

Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival – WAIMEA

The festival showcases the 60+ year old cherry trees planted at Church Row Park and the Japanese tradition of viewing them – hanami. There are a variety of things to do during the day throughout Waimea town – identified by pink banners. It stretches from the Parker Ranch Historic Homes on Mamalahoa Hwy. 190 to the Hawaiian Homestead Farmer’s Market on Hwy. 19. It features a full day of Japanese and multi-cultural performing arts, plus interactive demos in bonsai, origami, traditional tea ceremony, and mochi pounding. There will also be craft fairs. Free shuttles are offered between most venues. For more info, please call 808-961-8706.

March

Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival – WAIKOLOA BEACH RESORT

The one-day festivities span the resort’s two open-air shopping centers, the Kings’ Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace. It features a free workshop with renowned teachers Roy and Kathy Sakuma, a full line-up concert on 2 stages, ‘ukulele giveaways, plus Hawaiian craft vendors and stores offer specials. Traditional ‘ukulele masters, school groups, up-and-coming artists and top entertainers in the ‘ukulele world regularly perform at this crowd-drawing, free festival. For more information call (808) 886-8822 or visit www.waikoloabeachresort.com.

The Annual Kona Brewers Festival – KAILUA-KONA

Sold out every year this one-day event draws a large crowd for a string of events full of merry-making and, of course, beer. It features a homebrew competition, music performances, “Run for Hope” race, and exciting Trash Fashion show. The Kona Brewers Festival raises awareness, visibility and funding for over 40 non-profit and community organizations supporting the well-being of Hawai’i’s youth, environmental conservation, and cultural traditions. Usually held at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. For more information, call (808) 938-7376, email summer@konabrewersfestival.com, or visit www.konabrewersfestival.com.

April

The Annual Merrie Monarch Festival – HILO

Merrie Monarch spans a full week packed with cultural events highlighted by Hawaii’s most prestigious hula competition at Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium. Tickets to the competition are highly coveted and hard to come by but there are also free events. Aside from Hula, people attend popular craft fairs across 5 venues including the Hawaiian Arts Fair, where vendors are selected by invitation only. Known unofficially as the “Olympics of Hula” Halaus (hula teams) travel from across Hawaii and the world to compete.  The festival kicks off Sunday with a Ho’olaule’a at the auditorium behind the Stadium with lots of music, food, and fun. Wednesday is Ho’ike Night, there is also a free hula exhibition at the Stadium that begins at 6:30 pm (get there very early to stand in line!); Thursday is the solo Miss Aloha Hula competition; Friday & Saturday are the group Kahiko (ancient) and ‘Auana (modern) hula competitions. Capping off the festival is the grand parade through Hilo town Saturday morning. Leading up to and after the festival halaus may be seen around the island offering hula in sacred ceremony and gathering flowers or plants for their performance lei and outfits. Visit www.merriemonarch.com for more info.

Big Island Chocolate Festival – SOUTH KOHALA

The annual event is sponsored by the Kona Cacao Association and benefits a number of Island non-profits. A new theme is selected every year for this full weekend of events. featured are tastings, culinary demos, seminars, farm tours, and culminate with a gala party where VIP and General admission attendees are treated to food and liquor tastings, music, dancing, and silent auction. Island chefs, hotels, and restaurants go head to head at the gala for bragging rights, competing in a number of categories including best sweet, savory, and crowd favorite. The hosting hotel varies year to year and offers special rates for the weekend. For more details, visit www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com or email info@bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

May

Annual Big Island Jazz and Blues Festival – SOUTH KOHALA

The Big Island Jazz and Blues Festival will bring in Grammy jazz and blues legends. The main event sells out every year with table and row seating outside and oceanfront at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala coast. There is also a Jazz dinner and Sunday Jazz brunch at the hotel. Food and drink available for purchase; no coolers allowed. For more information, call 866-774-6236 or visit www.bigislandjazzandbluesfestival.com.

June

King Kamehameha Celebration Parade/Ho’olaulea – KAILUA-KONA

King Kamehameha Day is June 11th. On or near this date he is honored with floral parades and his statue in Hawi is draped with long, fragrant pua lei. In Kona, the parade features hula halau, equestrian units, marching bands, and more. Adorned in the flowers and colors of the Hawaiian Islands, regal pa’u riders on horseback represent each of the eight islands, led by their respective princesses and the pa’u queen.  The parade begins at Walua Road and Alii Drive at 9am, and travels through Kailua Village to Palani Road past the pier, ending at noon. After the parade, enjoy a free Hawaiian music concert and an arts & crafts fair at Hulihe’e Palace. There will be food, hula and a silent auction, as well. For more information, call 322-9944, email KamehamehaDayParade@hawaii.rr.com, or visit www.konaparade.org.

July

July 4th

Independence Day Parade AND Fireworks – KAILUA-KONA

The annual Kailua-Kona Independence Day Parade will begin at 6:00pm at the Kekua’okalani Gym, proceed along Ali’i Drive, and finish at the Royal Kona Resort. There will be seven announcer stations throughout the parade.  Check www.ParadesInKona.com for locations. Fireworks over Kailua Bay follow the parade at 8:00pm. For more information, please call 808-345-2108.

“Family Fourth” / Annual Rubber Duckie Race Benefit – WAIKOLOA BEACH RESORT

Waikoloa Beach Resort is full of nonstop entertainment, balloon art, carnival games and treats for all ages across 3 venues. The free event spans Kings’ Shops, Queens’ MarketPlace, and Waikoloa Bowl. Kings’ Lake behind Kings’ Shops hosts The Annual Rubber Duckie Race, a major fundraiser for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawai’i (UCPA). Queens’ Marketplace and adjacent Waikoloa Bowl features live entertainment and activities through the afternoon as families grab to-go orders at the Food Court and settle in, and at 8:00 p.m., the fireworks launch from the lava fields behind the Bowl. Guests staying in Waikoloa Beach Resort hotels and condominium properties are encouraged to “stroll to the Bowl”, avoiding traffic and packed parking lots. Beach mats or chairs are welcome for open lawn seating in Waikoloa Bowl. Drones, pets, coolers and alcoholic beverages are not permitted. This is a non-smoking event. Visit waikoloabeachresort.com for more info and a detailed schedule.

August

Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival – KAILUA-KONA

A full day of activities at Royal Kona Resort on Alii Drive. Featured is a Battle of the BBQ competition, a Marketplace, and Pool Party with live music. The day is hightlighted by the famous Mai Tai Mix-Off, where 20 of the world’s best bartenders compete for the title of the “world’s best mai tai” and a $10,000 first prize, a $5000 second prize, and a $2500 third prize. Call 808/930-3255 or visit donsmaitaifest.com/ for more info.

September

Annual Kupuna Hula Festival – SHERATON KONA RESORT

A sold out event featuring the practiced hula hands of kupuna (elders). Hula is performed over a weekend by halau with members 55 years and up. Tickets can be reserved by calling (808) 323-4340. There is also a Hawaiian crafts fair with the festival.

October

Ironman World Championship Triathalon – KAILUA-KONA

Since 1978 Kona has hosted the ultimate endurance event – a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. Thousands of the world’s best athletes, thousands of volunteers, sponsors, and support teams converge in Kona for a week of events leading up to race day. The finish line is located on the North end of Ali’i Drive and pedestrian only traffic. Vehicle traffic is very limited to certain sections during the week of events. Featured are the PATH 5k & 10K run, IRONKIDS dip n dash, Parade of Nations, and Ironman Village expo. Visit www.ironman.com. *Traffic across the island is expected on race day as athletes complete the 3 stages of the race.

November

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Kona’s coffee heritage spans nearly 200 years. Praised for its fine, light and memorable taste, celebrate it at the Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. Celebrate the harvest, as Kona coffee farms offer a firsthand look at growing this world-famous crop, there’s also the coffee art scene, music and dance, as well as a beauty pageant. A variety of Kona coffee and food events offer tastings. A $3 festival button is required for some events. For more information, visit www.konacoffeefest.com.

December

Holualoa Music and Light Festival – KONA

Holualoa lights its village Christmas tree. Musicians perform Christmas music throughout the evening at stages around the village. Galleries and shops offer visitors treats in this charming little artists’ colony. Santa will be there too. For information, call Holualoa Village Assn. at 808-322-8484, or visit www.holualoahawaii.com.

Annual Community Christmas Parade –  KAILUA-KONA

The annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade features floats, hula halaus, and pau riders. It starts at 5:00 p.m. at Kekuaokalani Gym next to Kona Aquatic Center, south on Kuakini, down Palani Rd., and along Ali’i Drive to Walua Road, ending at Royal Kona Resort. Visit www.paradesinkona.com