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Once a month on Sunday afternoons, crowds gather on the lawn by Hulihee Palace on Hawaii’s Big Island. Friends and families roll out their mats, settle back into their portable chairs or perch on the sea wall as palm trees sway overhead. The occasion? A free concert of Hawaiian music and dance.
Presented by the Daughters of Hawaii — caretakers of the historic palace — the laid-back entertainment honors a specific 19th-century Hawaiian monarch each month. The ambience is very friendly and family oriented. Often, the featured music and hula has ties to the king, queen or princess of the day. No matter what the theme is, however, the complimentary concerts make for a great excuse to visit the seaside town of Kailua-Kona.
For the remainder of 2010, Hulihee Palace concerts will take place on Sept. 19, when a band plays tunes in recognition of Queen Liliuokalani; on Oct. 17, with dancers honoring Princess Kaiulani; on Nov. 21, with King Kalakaua as the focus of a band program; and on Dec. 12, remembering Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop through hula.
If clients can’t make it to Hulihee Palace for the Sunday afternoon concerts, they can still visit the historic landmark on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the interior is open for self-guided tours.
Built in 1838, Hulihee has been restored to the way it looked in 1885, when Kalakaua ruled the Hawaiian kingdom and spent much of his time at the palace. Clients can take a fascinating step back in time as they wander through the restored two-story landmark, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Among the 1,000 items on display at the palace are artifacts from Kalakaua’s reign, including a Hawaiian koa wood armoire that was awarded a silver medal in the 1889 International Exhibition in Paris.
Clients can also see javelins and spears belonging to King Kamehameha the Great, a 70-inch table top made from a single piece of koa, steamer trunks that carried belongings to attend Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, portraits of Hawaii’s monarchs, pieces of fine Lokelani china and a rare mat made from the endemic makaloa plant.
Hulihee Palace admission, which includes a self-guided tour brochure, is $6 per adult, $4 per senior and $1 per child under age 18. Volunteer docents are sometimes also available to give guided tours.