Hilo Town, located on the northeastern side of Hawaii Island is home to breathtaking waterfalls, lush rainforests, tranquil gardens and the much-anticipated annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural event that enriches us each spring, with enchanting Hawaiian culture and a memorable hula competition. This Festival is a domestic non-profit organization that sets the normally laid-back town of Hilo abuzz with anticipation and excitement.
Merrie Monarch Festival and King David Laamea Kalakaua
Established in 1963, the Merrie Monarch Festival honors the legacy of King David Laamea Kalakaua (reign 1874-1891). His flashy and fun-loving nature earned him the nickname, the Merrie Monarch.
After many decades of living under Christian missionary teachings that suppressed the beliefs and traditions of Hawaiians, Kalakaua and his queen, Kapiolani, lived by the motto “Increase the Nation” (“Hooulu Lahui”). During his reign, Kalakaua was responsible for the resurgence and perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, Olelo Hawaii (language), hula (dance), oli (chant) and the arts, along with the construction of Iolani Palace. Iolani palace was a symbol of the grandeur of his rule, as well as of the Hawaiian ingenuity and sovereignty.
Each year, the Merrie Monarch Festival continues to revive and carry on the traditions and culture of the Hawaiian people, and enriches present and future generations with a sense of pride and responsibility.
Put on Your Favorite Pair of Island Slippers and Enjoy the Festival’s Events
The 56th annual Merrie Monarch Festival begins on Sunday, April 21st and concludes on Saturday, April 27th. Hula practitioners, enthusiasts and fans will converge on Hilo Town for an entire week of na mea Hawaii (all things Hawaiian). What to expect? The week will be filled with cultural demonstrations, arts, crafts, clothing, music, a stunning floral parade, leis and hula. Lots and lots of hula.
The highlight of the Merrie Monarch Festival is the world famous hula competition. It lasts three days and features various hula schools (halau hula) from both Hawaii and the continental United States. The Olympics of Hula begins on the Thursday, April 25thwith an individual competition for the title of Miss Aloha Hula. The contestants will perform Hula Kahiko, Hula Auana and oli (chant). The second day of competition takes place on Friday, April 26th and will feature Hula Kahiko, halau hula will perform ancient/traditional style hula routines. Finally, the last day of the competition will occur on Saturday, April 27th and is reserved for the Hula Auana, a more contemporary and modern style of hula. An awards ceremony will follow directly after the conclusion of Hula Auana.
Kahiko and Auana, the ancient and the modern hula styles, represent the generational perpetuation of hula and the Hawaiian culture. So if you are a cultural enthusiast, and you are in Hawaii during the festival, make sure you don’t miss the fascinating hula competition, as well as all the other events that will teach you important lessons about the history and culture of Hawaii.
If you can’t make it to the festival this year, but you want to feel closer to this beautiful island and the Hawaiian culture, check out our charming Island slippers. They are handmade with love, and they promise to bring you not only comfort and chicness but also a bit of our Hawaiian laid-back style.
In the meantime, even if you’re too far, you can catch still be up to date with what’s going on in Hawaii during the festival, because you can watch Merrie Monarch live stream. Enjoy!