The Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii
will open the festival.
Island promoters like to call Hawaii the romance capital of the
world, so it only follows that someone would create a festival in
honor of that distinction. The Hawaii Romance Festival, scheduled
for May 2-11, promises a sentimental journey through star-studded
performances, dreamy dinners, live music for listening and dancing,
and the screening of an emotional film classic.
Launched last year as Return to Romance, the 2008 festival’s new
name represents its broader reach, according to founding partner
Allen Sviridoff. Over 10,000 people attended last year’s
festivities, with some 30,000 estimated for the upcoming
“We have grown into the name Hawaii Romance Festival to allow
music to be coupled with books, film, food and the beauty of
Hawaii, creating the most comprehensive celebration possible,”
The 2008 event also serves as the official introduction of the
Hawaii Romance Center, a multi-faceted Oahu attraction opening
within the next decade. Plans call for a facility featuring a
restaurant, theater with a live romantic-themed production, a
gallery displaying festival mementos and what Sviridoff called,
“the world’s greatest Tunnel of Love ride.” An outdoor venue at the
center will eventually serve as the primary host for the Hawaii
Romance Festival each year. The Hawaii Romance Center will also
showcase books, TV shows, chefs and films that have been inducted
for their works related to romance, he said. Clients will find star
appeal at the event as well, which Sviridoff likened to the Cannes
Smokey Robinson will perform
at Back to Romance.
“It will be attended by an international high-profile group of
participants and audiences, garnering worldwide press coverage and
the excitement of a premier each year,” he said. “The 2008 event is
growing into a must-see celebration, determining May as the month
of romance in Hawaii.”
The Hawaii Romance Festival starts out with lively opening
ceremonies at Iolani Palace on May 2, presided over by the spirited
Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii. Gathered in front of Honolulu’s
historic royal residence, the audience gets a free preview of the
week’s events, highlighted by musical snippets by various
On May 3, a dinner/dance called The Food, Wine and Music of
Romance applauds the talents of four James Beard Award-winning
chefs, including Hawaii’s own Alan Wong. Clients attending the
event can enjoy wine pairings, appearances by celebrity hosts and
dancing to music by the orchestra and guest artists. For
International Music Night (May 4), headliners from around the globe
gather on stage at the Waikiki Shell, an inspiring outdoor setting
flanked by Diamond Head.
The festival celebrates the 70th anniversary of “Gone With the
Wind” with a special screening in wide-screen format (May 5). Ann
Rutherford, who portrayed Scarlett’s younger sister, Careen, in the
movie, will take part in a Q&A session following the showing.
On May 6, the Hawaii Romance Center inducts its first honorees
during a lavish dinner.
“Destined to become the Oscars of Romance, the dinner will
benefit children’s charities in Hawaii,” said Sviridoff.
On May 7 and 8, Nick and Nina Clooney, George Clooney’s parents,
will host a pair of Broadway-style concerts called The Most
Romantic Songs Ever Written, Part 2. The concerts are a
continuation of the tradition that began last year, when a panel of
150 industry specialists voted on love-inspired tunes with the
ultimate staying power. At each festival, 20 songs from that list
will be presented at the Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu.
Gladys Knight will perform at Back to
The festival kicks off May 9 with Back to Romance, a Waikiki Shell
extravaganza featuring Motown artist and Smokey Robinson. At the
Rhythm of Romance (May 10), R&B legend Gladys Knight and soul
singer Aaron Neville join other renowned music-makers for melodies
at Honolulu’s Neal Blaisdell Arena. Closing the festival on May 11
is Pink Day at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, benefiting Susan G. Komen
for the Cure with a dinner, fashion show and superstar concert.
Sviridoff hopes that clients attending this year’s Hawaii
Romance Festival will want to come back to Oahu year after year for
romance and rejuvenation through music, food, movies, books or the
“Romance can be as intimate as an elegant dinner for two, a walk
on the beach or a dual massage,” he said, “and as grand as being
serenaded under the stars by some of the world’s most incredible
There is nowhere else on earth better suited for such a
festival,” he added. “Hawaii is quiet, Hawaii is gentle, Hawaii is
fragrant, Hawaii is exciting, Hawaii is romance.”
Hawaii Romance Festival
Dates: May 2-11
Individual event ticket prices: From $25-$150 per
person (higher for charity events).