Celebrating History and Culture on the Big Island

Island events share unique history with visitors

By: By Marty Wentzel

Around the year, Hawaii’s Big Island presents special events and experiences that personify and share its rich history and culture. Following are a few notable upcoming gatherings.

March 20
Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko
Traditional hula and chant are performed outdoors on the hula platform overlooking Kilauea Crater, featuring hula by Halau Haa Kea O Kinohi. The performance runs from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, Hawaiian craft demonstrations take place at the Volcano Art Center Gallery from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 808-967-8222.

April 4-10
Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

Members of Ke Kai O Kahiki performing at the 2009 Merrie Monarch Festival.// (c) 2009

Members of Ke Kai O Kahiki performing at the 2009 Merrie Monarch Festival. // (c) 2009 Merrie Monarch Festival

Hawaii’s most venerable hula celebration and competition spans a week and includes exhibitions, musical entertainment, arts and crafts fairs, the Miss Aloha Hula Competition and kahiko (ancient) and auana (modern) dance contests. 808-935-9168.

June 11
King Kamehameha Day Celebration
On the northern tip of the Big Island, visitors and locals gather to honor the legendary Hawaiian king in his North Kohala birthplace. Clients attending the special cultural festival can watch a ceremony during which the king’s statue is draped in leis. There’s also a floral parade, hula, live music and food booths. Festivities take place at Kamehameha Park in Kapaau. 808-884-5168

June 11
Kamehameha Festival
This festival features a hoolaulea (outdoor party) with top Hawaii recording artists such as Cyril Pahinui, hula troupes, various cultural presentations, a Hawaiian chant competition, dance of the warrior exhibition, food, and arts and crafts booths. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Moku Ola (Coconut Island), Hilo. 808-989-4844.

June 26-27
Puuhonua o Honaunau Annual Cultural Festival
This enjoyable and educational festival is held in Kona at one of the premier spots in the state to learn about ancient Hawaiian culture. Clients can watch demonstrations and participate in numerous Hawaiian arts and lifestyle activities, including net fishing, weaving and food preparation. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. 808-328-2326.

Aug. 14-15
Establishment Day Hawaiian Festival
Early Saturday morning, this annual cultural festival begins with a royal court procession. Throughout the weekend, additional offerings include hula, arts, crafts and cultural exhibits. Puukohola Heiau National Historical Site, one mile south of Kawaihae on the Kohala Coast. 808-882-7218.

Sept. 5
Honuapo Hoolaulea
Set in a picturesque 225-acre beach park, this day-long festival features live music, hula, food, arts, crafts, educational booths and activities highlighting the area’s history and cultural traditions. Running from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the annual affair attracts lots of friendly residents and visitors to the largest county shoreline park in the state of Hawaii. Honuapo Park, Naalehu. 808-929-9891

For a complete listing of events on Hawaii’s Big Island, go to www.bigisland.org/calendar.