Aloha Festivals 2023 theme is Piliʻāina: to have kinship with the land
Aloha Festivals, Hawai‘i’s longest running cultural festival, returns in September 2023 on Oʻahu with its month-long celebration of the spirit of aloha and the diverse traditions and cultures of the islands.
Building on last year’s theme, Aloha ‘Āina, Aloha Festivals will continue to explore the integral relationship that all people have with the land with its 2023 theme Piliʻāina – to have kinship with the land.
“Pili” means to have a personal connection to, or close relationship with someone or something, and this theme encourages people to reconnect with their natural surroundings in both old and new ways. “Piliʻāina” urges everyone to physically interact with Hawai‘i’s land and environment by going on a hike, exploring the wonder of our destinations’ living reefs, stopping to smell the flowers or making a lei.
The theme also aims to inspire locals and visitors to rediscover and use traditional place names like Lēʻahi, the traditional name for Diamond Head, a contraction of Laeʻahi (brow of the tuna), and the stories connected to these places through mele (song/poetry) and hula.
The lyrics of the mele, “Lēʻahi”, by Mary Pulaʻa Robins & John Noble tells a story: “… Hōkū kau ʻale kai aʻo Māmala…,” “…Rising star of Māmala…” Māmala is the traditional name of Honolulu Habor, named in honor of a shark woman who dwelled in those waters.
“Knowing and using these traditional place names and their mele helps us to deepen our pilina (connection) to the land,” said Nakanelua-Richards.
Aloha Festivals will officially kick off on Sept. 9. The festival begins with The Royal Court Investiture & Opening Ceremony on Sept. 9; followed by Hawai‘i’s largest block party at the 69th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a on Sept. 23. The celebration concludes with the capstone 75th Annual Floral Parade presented by ‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach on Sept. 30.
Aloha Festivals 2023 Signature Events Schedule
Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony
Sept. 9 from 4 – 6 p.m.: Coconut Grove at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
- The Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony will kick off the month-long Aloha Festivals celebration with its treasured cultural protocols. The evening will begin with the Royal Court Investiture at the Coconut Grove located at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort. In a stately ceremony that honors Hawaiʻi’s aliʻi (ruling chiefs), this year’s Aloha Festivals Royal Court will don regalia worn only by aliʻi of the highest rank. As representatives of Hawaiʻi’s past, the Aloha Festivals Royal Court ensures the festival is rooted in the most cherished traditions of Hawaiʻi. Following the Investiture, the Opening Ceremony at The Royal Grove at the neighboring Royal Hawaiian Center will feature hula and mele in the heart of Waikīkī, marking a spectacular start to the month of Aloha Festivals.
69th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a
Sept. 23 from 6 – 9:30 p.m.: Kalākaua Avenue
- Aloha Festivals hosts Hawai‘i’s premier block party with the 69th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a. Unlike any other event, Waikīkī’s beachfront Kalākaua Avenue will come to life with booths highlighting Hawai‘i cuisine, crafts and culture. Attendees can taste the best of local flavors, peruse artisan-made crafts, and enjoy multiple stages of entertainment ranging from contemporary, high-energy genres to the sweet sounds of traditional Hawaiian music.
75th Annual Floral Parade presented by ‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach
Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.: From Ala Moana Park through Kalākaua Ave. to Kapi‘olani Park
- The 75th Annual Floral Parade presented by ‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach will conclude the Aloha Festivals with a colorful procession of Hawaiian culture through Waikīkī. As the state’s largest parade, intricate floats will be decorated with a rainbow of fresh flowers, men and women on horseback will showcase the traditional art of pāʻū riding, and participants from marching bands to civic leaders will display the unique aloha spirit that unites Hawai‘i’s community.
“Now that the world has reopened, it’s time for us to reconnect, nurture and provide attention to our land here in Hawai‘i,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, co-chair of Aloha Festivals. “At Aloha Festivals this year, we want to inspire everyone to get out, explore, and appreciate the beauty of our world and let it leave its mark on you.”
The mission of Aloha Festivals is to foster the aloha spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawai‘i.
Aloha Festivals 2023 is supported by title sponsor the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Other sponsors include Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort, ‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach, City & County of Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines, Royal Hawaiian Center, and Hawaii’s Finest.
For more information about Aloha Festivals, visit www.AlohaFestivals.com.