What’s happening at Merrie Monarch on Saturday?

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File photo of 2022 hula ‘auana group competition. (Merrie Monarch Festival)

Saturday is the last day of the 60th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival. It begins in the morning with the Royal Parade through Downtown Hilo and ends in the evening with the last hula competition, and the crowning of the group champions.

The hula ‘auana group competition begins at 6 p.m. at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium.

This style of hula is more modern and less formal than hula kahiko (ancient hula dancing), which was held Friday night.


“‘Auana” means to wander or drift, and this style has drifted away from the traditional hula kahiko. It is more interactive with the audience, taking influence from Western culture, and typically accompanied by song and a variety of instruments such as the guitar, steel guitar, bass and ‘ukulele. Hula ‘auana is more commonly used in movies and other Western media than its traditional counterpart.

There are 23 participating hālau hula — three from the Big Island, 14 from Oʻahu, four from Maui and one each from Kaua‘i and Washington State. See the list below.

After tonight’s competition, the winners of the hula ‘auana and the hula kahiko will be crowned.


But there is a lot going on before the competition begins.

The Merrie Monarch Festival Royal Parade begins at 10:30 a.m., and will celebrate the resiliency of the community and Hawaiian culture. The parade will feature floats and tons of flowers along with pāʻū riders and others parading throughout Downtown Hilo. And, 100 horses also will strut their stuff along the 2-mile route.

The parade begins and ends at Pauahi Street, with entries marching along Kīlauea Avenue, Keawe Street, Waiānuenue Avenue and Kamehameha Avenue.


For information about road closures, click here.

Here’s what else is happening on Saturday for the festival:

  • The official Merrie Monarch Arts and Crafts Fair at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and Butler Buildings continues, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair showcases and supports Hawai’i artisans and creators, featuring more than 150 of the state’s best. Admission is free and official festival apparel, posters and programs will be available for purchase.
  • The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo will showcase daily Hawaiian music and hula performances.
  • The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel will host its annual Merrie Monarch Craft Fair from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Moku‘ola Ballroom, downstairs from the main lobby. The craft fair will feature more than 30 vendors and food concessions.
  • The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel’s Wai’oli Lounge will be showing the Merrie Monarch Festival competition on TV from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. It also will open early at 2:30 p.m.
  • The Prince Kūhiō Plaza is hosting a craft fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The craft fair features more than 60 vendors offering a variety of wares and other items for purchase. You can also get official Merrie Monarch merchandise at a booth at the mall’s food court entrance. For a list of vendors, click here.
  • Nani Mau Gardens is hosting its 30th annual Arts, Crafts and Food Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The festival is a celebration of the artistic and cultural heritage of Hawai‘i, its people and environment. For additional information or questions, click here, email to [email protected] or call 808-981-0518.
  • The SCP Hilo Hotel, formerly the Hilo Seaside Hotel at 126 Banyan Way, is hosting the second day of the 2023 Mele Manaka Community Celebration that features live music, workshops and giveaways. The event that celebrates Hawaiian culture runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Workshops will include lei making, T-shirt printing, coconut hats, lauhala weaving, poi pounding, fishing pole making and more, all taught by local artists and community leaders.

This year’s participating hālau hula and their kumu for the group competitions:

  • Hālau Lilia Makanoe: Kumu Hula Shelsea Lilia Ai.
  • Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu: Nā Kumu Hula William Kahakuleilehua Haunu‘u “Sonny” Ching and Lōpaka Igarta-De Vera.
  • Keolalaulani Hālau ‘Ōlapa O Laka: Kumu Hula Keolalaulani Dalire.
  • Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniākea: Kumu Hula Kapua Dalire-Moe.
  • Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima: Kumu Hula Māpuana De Silva.
  • Hālau Keolakapuokalani: Kumu Hula Drake Keolakapu Dudoit Delaforcé.
  • Hālau Kiawekūpono O Ka Ua: Kumu Hula Ulukoa Duhaylonsod.
  • Hālau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani: Kumu Hula Nāhōkūokalani Gaspang.
  • Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka: Kumu Hula Nāpua Greig.
  • Hālau Hula Kauluokalā: Kumu Hula Uluwehi Guerrero.
  • Keʻala ʻO Kamailelauliʻiliʻi: Kumu Hula Kamaile Hamada.
  • Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leināʻala: Kumu Hula Leinā‘ala Pavao Jardin.
  • Hālau Ka Lehua Pua Kamaʻehu: Nā Kumu Hula Kasie Puahala Kaleohano and Brandi Nohelani Barrett.
  • Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela: Nā Kumu Hula Kau‘ionālani Kamana‘o and Kunewa Mook.
  • Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua: Nā Kumu Hula Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV and Lono Padilla.
  • Hālau O Ka Hanu Lehua: Kumu Hula Carlson Kamaka Kukona III.
  • Ka Lā ʻŌnohi Mai O Haʻehaʻe: Nā Kumu Hula Tracie and Keawe Lopes.
  • Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi: Nā Kumu Hula Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes.
  • Kawaiʻulaokalā: Kumu Hula Keliʻihoʻomalu Puchalski.
  • Hālau Hula O Kauhionāmauna: Kumu Hula Theresa Kauhionāmauna Ramento Tehiva.
  • Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā: Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad.
  • Hālau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine: Kumu Hula Ka‘ilihiwa Vaughan-Darval.
  • Hālau Kalaʻakeakauikawēkiu: Kumu Hula Kenneth Dean Alohapumehanaokala Victor.

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