Each year since 1946, the Aloha Festivals have presented a unique opportunity for all visitors to join the people of Hawaii as they celebrate and share its rich traditions and Hawaiian culture. The festival, held on Oahu, is a series of free events running for over a month, and you are invited.
The Aloha Festivals was recently named by USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice 2019 as one of the Top 10 Cultural Festivals in America. This year the theme is “Na Moolelo Ukulele: Ukulele Stories” and the ukulele will be prominently featured throughout the signature events. Audiences will enjoy listening to and learning about this famous musical instrument.
Named ukulele or “jumping flea” in the Hawaiian language, the moniker describes the way the fingers jump around the strings while being picked or strummed. So much a part of modern Hawaiian music and embraced by the world, the ukulele is beloved in Hawaii and a part of many visitors’ fond memories of the islands.
Here is a short list of Aloha Festivals events, but more activities are being added so check the Aloha Festival website for current listings at alohafestivals.com.
Royal Court Investiture
At 4:00 p.m. on August 31, 2019, the Royal Court Investiture takes place at the historic Helumoa (Coconut Grove) of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with a ceremony following Hawaiian protocols based on ancient royal ceremonies.
The new royal court, consisting of a king, queen, prince, princess and other royal retainers, will be presented with their cloaks, helmets or feather head lei and symbols of their rank. The court participants, who reign for a year, are of native Hawaiian lineage and have demonstrated excellence in their communities through Hawaiian values and cultural pride.
The investiture is a respectful and touching event complete with chants, gifts and hulas offered to the court. Immediately following the Royal Court Investiture, an Opening Ceremony takes place at 5:00 p.m., presided over by the new court and celebrated with music, chants and traditional hula.
Purchases of the Aloha Festivals ribbons help support the festivals and will be available at this kick-off event and online. Events are free to attend and made possible by main sponsors Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaiian Airlines, Royal Hawaiian Center, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and many others. Your ribbon with button is a cool souvenir and additionally gives you 20 percent off Bishop Museum general admission and 20 percent off breakfast or lunch buffet at Prince Waikiki hotel.
67th Waikiki Hoolaulea
The 67th Waikiki Hoolaulea (gathering celebration or festival) is an evening street party on Saturday, September 21, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Running down the entirety of the closed-off Kalakaua Avenue, it’s Hawaii’s largest block party. Start at either end of Waikiki’s main drag and stroll down the avenue, stopping at tents to purchase Hawaiian cuisine and artisan crafts, learn about the culture and enjoy the incredible Hawaiian entertainment on each of the six stages.
73rd Annual Floral Parade
Saturday, September 28 at 9:00 a.m., the 73rd Annual Floral Parade takes place. Floats covered in flowers, the Royal Court, hula dancers, regal lei-bedecked riders on horses representing all of the islands and island-style marching bands make their way from Ala Moana Park down Kalakaua Ave to Kapiolani Park. This colorful parade is a not-to-miss event and a photographer’s dream.
Aloha Festivals has expanded their unique experiences and discounts with Ohana Events offered by friends and partners.
Taking place across the island of Oahu throughout the month of September, the activities include: hula dance basics classes; lei making instruction; a Hawaiian Designer Fashion show; Kanikapila (jam session) with local ukulele legends; a ukulele event with ukulele builders and musicians from Hawaii Ukulele Guild, providing an opportunity “talk story” with them and play an ukulele; Pearlridge Keiki Hoolaulea conch shell blowing contest for kids; and children from hula schools will perform.
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In the works, but not finalized yet, is a concert event on the beach at Queens Surf early in September. More Ohana Events to be announced soon so visit the website for details at alohafestivals.com/ohana-events.
E Komo Mai: Aloha Festivals welcome everyone to celebrate