March 30, 2016||Big Island Communities: Events

53rd Annual Merrie Monarch Festival Underway in Hilo

Recognized as the most significant gathering to showcase the art of both ancient and modern forms of hula, the Merrie Monarch festival kicked off this past Sunday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. Free performances will take place throughout the week at Hilo Naniloa Hotel and the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel at noon and 1pm, respectively. The festival is named after the last reigning king of the Kingdom of Hawaii, David Kalakaua, who was responsible for reigniting the flame of passion for activities such as hula (after it was banned under the rule of Queen Kaʻahumanu), surfing and Lua.

Ho‘ike performances will take place on Wednesday, March 30th at 6pm at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium featuring dance and culture from around the Pacific. Wednesday evenings events are free to the public and no tickets are required. Thursday night competitors will peform hula kahiko and hula ʻauana for the coveted title of Miss Aloha Hula. (Last years winner Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap is not a blood relation but she is extremely talented!) Group competitions are the highlight both Friday and Saturday night beginning at 6pm at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium. Ancient dance styles will be performed on Friday while Saturday is reserved for the awards ceremony for all group winners and halau hula perform modern dance techniques.

The Merrie Monarch Royal Parade will begin at 10:30 Saturday morning, beginning at Pauahi street and continuing though all of downtown Hilo. Onlookers should expect to see many colorful floats, lively music and streets packed with people. The Royal Parade is a highly anticipated segment of the festival and fun for the whole family! Event proceeds support cultural workshops, educational scholarships and future Merrie Monarch festivals.

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