2018 Merrie Monarch Festival Event Lineup

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The Merrie Monarch Festival will take place from April 1 through 7, 2018.

The week-long festival features an internationally acclaimed hula competition, an invitational Hawaiian arts fair, hula shows and a grand parade through Hilo town.

The Merrie Monarch Festival is dedicated to the memory of King David La‘amea Kalākaua, known as the “Merrie Monarch,” for his flamboyant and fun-loving ways. King Kalākaua was elected king of the Hawaiian Nation in 1874, and reigned until his passing in 1891. He was a patron of the arts, especially music and dance.

The Merrie Monarch Festival steadfastly works to maintain the teachings of Hawai‘i’s kūpuna, and strives to perpetuate the history and culture of Hawaiian people in a manner that respects those teachings. Through our efforts, along with those of other organizations, the festival seeks to ensure that the unique traditions of Hawaiian people will continue to flourish.

Most activities during the festival week are free to the public; however, tickets are needed to attend the three-day hula competition. For ticket information, go online.

2018 Merrie Monarch Festival Event Lineup


Sunday, April 1, 9 a.m. 
Hoʻolauleʻa (celebration)
Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium
Free admission to watch performances by our local hālau

Monday through Friday, April 2–6
Free Mid-day Entertainment
Entertainment at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, noon
Entertainment at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, 1 p.m.

Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair
Wednesday through Friday, April 4–6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, April, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium
An annual favorite, this free event features local artists, crafters and entertainment

Hōʻike Performances
Wednesday, April 4, 6 p.m.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium
An exhibition night of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific
The performances are free to the public, no tickets required

Miss Aloha Hula
Thursday, April 5, 6 p.m.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium
Individual competition for the title of Miss Aloha Hula with contestants performing hula kahiko, hula ʻauana and oli (chant)


Group Hula Kahiko
Friday, April 6, 6 p.m.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium
Hālau hula perform ancient style dances

Group Hula ʻAuana & Awards
Saturday, April 7, 6 p.m.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium
Hālau hula perform modern style dances, followed by an awards presentation for all group winners

Merrie Monarch Royal Parade
Saturday, April 7, 10:30 a.m.
Through Downtown Hilo
One of the festival’s most entertaining and fun events for the entire family, the parade begins and ends at Pauahi Street (Kīlauea Avenue to Keawe Street to Waiānuenue Avenue to Kamehameha Avenue)

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a non-profit organization that honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua, who inspired the perpetuation of our traditions, native language and arts.

Merrie Monarch Festival History

King Kalākaua commemorated his 50th birthday with a two-week celebration of Hawaiian culture on the ʻIolani Palace grounds. Known as the “Silver Jubilee,” the 1886 festivities featured hoʻopaʻa (chanters) and ʻōlapa (dancers) performing in public for the first time in years.


A parade wound its way through downtown Honolulu to the palace, where throngs of well-wishers lined up to offer gifts and pay their respects to Kalākaua. One gift was a book, Nā Mele ʻAimoku, compiling 48 chants honoring the king, past rulers, and other traditional compositions passed down through the generations. Today, this rich source of traditional chants provides us with insights into the poetic expressions of the Hawaiian language.

Every year the Merrie Monarch Festival continues what the king started, by hosting a week-long festival of music, crafts, art, demonstrations and a hula competition. During festival week, the grandeur, pride, and spirit of the Silver Jubilee is alive in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

About King Kalākaua

King David Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch. PC: http://merriemonarch.com.

For many decades under Christian missionary teachings, Hawaiian beliefs and traditions were suppressed. Kalākaua did not support such teachings, and instead he and his queen, Kapiʻolani, lived by the motto, “Hoʻoūlu Lāhui,” Increase the Nation. He advocated for a renewed sense of pride in all things Hawaiian such as the arts, medicine, music, and hula. ʻIolani Palace, constructed during Kalākaua’s reign, was not only a symbol of Hawaiian ingenuity and sovereignty, but of the grandeur and lavishness of his rule as well.

Ancient Hawaiians had no written language, but used oral traditions like chant and hula to record such things as genealogy, mythology, history, and religion. Hula, the dance of Hawaiian people, was one means by which culture was expressed and chronicled. The king not only relied on these traditional forms of documentation, but during a time of heightened literacy in the islands, King Kalākaua spoke with kūpuna, elders, eventually compiling their stories into a book, Legends and Myths of Hawaii. By supporting the practice and expression of Hawaiian knowledge, Kalākaua ensured that future generations would inherit a robust Hawaiian heritage.

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