Top 20 things to do on Big Island for Nov. 2-8: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Hilo Idol finale, ʻIkuwā Festival and much more

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The next week on the Big Island will once again be bustling with events you won’t want to miss.

There’s the 52nd annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival that features 10 days of events honoring the region’s cultural heritage and celebrates Kona coffee. Don’t miss the finale of the Big Island’s ultimate singing competition Hilo Idol on the grand stage at Hilo Town Market. The ʻIkuwā Festival returns to ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo in celebration of the interconnectedness between people, communities and the natural resources and landscapes we call home.

There’s also plenty of live music, art, Makahiki games and even skateboarding plus more to do, so get out and have some fun.

Here are our top 20 things to do on the Big Island for Nov. 2-8.

No. 1 — 52nd annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Kona, Nov. 3-12)

Image from a past Coffee Art Stroll from the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival website

World-renowned Kona-grown coffee takes center stage at venues throughout Kona during this annual award-winning collection of coffee-related events that is one of the longest-running and most successful food festivals in Hawai‘i.


The 10 days of events, including the Made In Hawai‘i Artisan Market, Lantern Parade, Multicultural Showcase, Miss Kona Coffee and Little Miss Kona Coffee scholarship competitions, Kona’s Got Talent Showcase and much more, honor the region’s cultural heritage and celebrate the accomplishments of generations of Kona coffee pioneers, farmers and artisans.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival experience is unique, enriching and ensures the story of the region’s cultural heritage continues to be shared with residents and visitors.

For more information or to purchase tickets to events, click here or contact [email protected].

No. 2 — Hilo Idol finale (Hilo, Nov. 4)

From left, Hilo Idol semifinals round 2 winners Josh Lozada, second place; Kacy Sanchez, first place; and Bridge Hartman, third place. (Photo courtesy of Levi Strauss)

Who will be crowned the very first Hilo Idol? The finale of the Big Island’s ultimate singing competition, featuring six of the island’s brightest new singing stars as they face themselves, each other and the music from the judges, is slated for Black and White Weekend on the grand stage at Hilo Town Market, located at 69 Waiānuenue Ave.


Gates open at 5 p.m. School of Rock: Battle of the Bands winner 2 Years Out will open the show from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the competition will be from 7 to 9 p.m., with open karaoke and dancing to celebrate after.

Tickets for the family-friendly event are $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. Bring your own chairs and beverages. Food trucks and vendors will also be on site. Advance tickets can be purchased online.

The winners of the second round of semifinals Oct. 25 were Kacy Sanchez in first place, Josh Lozada in second and Bridge Hartman in third. They join semifinals round 1 winners Terran “TJ” Kaleiwahea Jr., Teena-Marie Viavia and Loretta “Green Eyes” Lopes in the finale.

No. 3 — Hawaiian Chocolate: Cacao Farming on Hawai‘i Island (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Nov. 7)

Image from Hamakua Chocolate Farm website

Only one state in the U.S. can grow the remarkable cacao tree: Hawaiʻi. Join Dan Corson of the Hāmākua Chocolate Farm at the Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium as he takes participants on a virtual tour of a working cacao farm.


From harvesting fruit to bringing the product to market, learn why many consider Hawaiian chocolate to be among the best on Earth and a step toward a more sustainable future for local agriculture.

This is part of the park’s ongoing After Dark in the Park programs. Free, but park entrance fees apply.

No. 4 — Makana live and on demand (Waimea, Nov. 3)

Courtesy of Kahilu Theatre

This concert at the Kahilu Theatre, located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, is one you do not want to miss! Makana will perform vocal and slack key guitar renditions of some of the most beloved and moving classics from the 1960s through the 1990s. You might call it slack folk or slack rock.

For years, Makana has performed with and on tour opening for legends including Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Santana, Bad Company, Sting, Elvis Costello, Leon Russell, Eddie Vedder, Gotye, Jason Mraz, Chris Isaak and many other bona fide rock stars. He has since created a repertoire of his favorite classics, sung in English, played in his unique, impossible-to-imitate symphonic style of slack key guitar.

Be prepared to feel every emotion — and experience a whole new level of solo acoustic performance. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $40. Click here to purchase tickets in advance.

No. 5 — ʻIkuwā Festival 2023 (Hilo, Nov. 5)

Courtesy photo from the 2022 ʻIkuwā Festival.

This festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, located at 600 ʻImiloa Place, celebrates the interconnectedness of people, communities and the natural resources and landscapes we call home.

There will be special planetarium programs about people’s relationships to land, sea and sky, Makahiki games, hula and mele, the Kūekeolioli Keiki Oli Challenge, a waʻa demonstrations with the ʻOhana Waʻa crew, retail and food vendors, activities and crafts, community art and the reveal of a new interactive exhibit — Ke Aouli ʻŌlinolino.

Admission is free. Donations to support the festival will be accepted at the front desk. For more information, email to [email protected].

No. 6 — Voices of Hilo: A reading by two poets (Hilo, Nov. 5)

Image from Facebook

Join the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center, located at 141 Kalakaua St., from 3 to 4:30 p.m. for a live reading by Big Island poets Tomas Belsky and Terry McNeely, whose poems explore the lessons they have learned from decades of living in Hawai‘i about love and loss, caring for the land and finding meaning in a world that seems on the verge of collapse.

Belsky and McNeely will read their poetry in Kahua ‘Elua Theatre, followed by discussion and a Q&A session. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended.

Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy poetry directly from the source. To reserve your seat or for more information, click here.

No. 7 — Mahani Teave live (Waimea, Nov. 5)

Courtesy of Kahilu Theatre

On the heels of her Billboard chart-topping debut album, Easter Island’s only professional classical musician, award-winning pioneering pianist and environmentalist Mahani Teave embarks on her debut U.S. concert tour.

Her eagerly-anticipated appearances include works by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov and world premieres by Chilean composers José Miguel Tobar and Alejandro Aravealo. Experience what BBC Music magazine calls Mahani’s “Natural pianism … genuine virtuosity … sincere, pure and magnificent artistry” in her debut recital tour.

The concert at Kahilu Theatre, located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, begins at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $40. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

No. 8 — Taiko Talk and Demonstration in Kahuku (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Nov. 4)

Big Island Now file photo

Taiko instructor Paul Sakamoto and his students will demonstrate and talk story about taiko drumming from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Contact Station in the park’s Kahuku Unit, located near mile marker 70.5 on Highway 11 in Ocean View.

Learn about the posture and movement (kata) associated with a taiko performance, the different types of taiko drums, the bachi (sticks) used to strike the taiko, traditional clothing and the different rhythms and strikes.

The event is free to attend.

No. 9 — Hawai‘i International Film Festival (Hilo, Nov. 2-5)

Image from Facebook

The film festival returns to the history Palace Theater, located at 38 Haili St., with an exciting slate of international and made-in Hawai’i films for a full weekend of screenings.

As the vanguard forum of international cinematic achievement in the Asia-Pacific region, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival endeavors to recognize new and emerging talent, promote career development and original collaborations through innovative education programs and facilitate dynamic cultural exchange through the cinema arts.

Doors, box office and concessions open 30 minutes prior to the first film each day. Times and film ratings vary. General admission is $10 per film or $9 for seniors, students and veterans. The HIFF Pass is $50 and is good for entry to all 10 screenings.

For more information or to purchase a HIFF Pass, click here.

No. 10 — Skate or Fry!!! (Kona, Nov. 4)

Image from Facebook

This music and skateboarding event from 4 to 10 p.m. at Willie’s Hot Chicken, located at 74-5599 Pawai Place, will raise money for the expansion of the Kona skatepark and will include live music by Cyclone Prime, El Sancho, The 1201, The Tremors and 9IRON, with DJ Scotty Doo providing the jams between bands.

There also will be skate ramps, contests and, of course, fried chicken

A liability waiver must be signed before skating and keiki younger than 18 years old must have a parent fill out the form. Helmets and pads are strongly recommended.

A $10 donation will be taken at the door. Kids 12 and younger are free.

No. 11 — Makahiki games (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Nov. 8)

Cutline: Two rangers demonstrate a Hawaiian game of tossing a wooden club between two stakes in the ground. (National Park Service photo)

Traditional Hawaiian games were an important part of training for warriors during times of peace. Moa paheʻe teaches the skill of precision throwing and involves sliding a wooden club between two stakes.

Join park rangers and staff from Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association from 10 a.m. to noon at the ʻŌhiʻa Wing, across Crater Rim Drive from Kīlauea Visitor Center, for this fun challenge that is part of the park’s ongoing ‘Ike Hana Noʻeau (Experience the Skillful Work) Hawaiian cultural programs.

Free, but park entrance fees apply.

No. 12 — Frights & Delights (Kona, Nov. 3)

Image from Facebook

Are you ready for a night of spine-tingling excitement and musical magic? MyBar Kona, located at 74-5606 Luhia St., is thrilled to announce an intimate pop-up Halloween show that’s sure to send shivers down your spine.

Prepare for a fabulous night of “Frights & Delights” from 7:30 to 9 p.m. as the Lava Dolls take the stage for a performance like no other. Get ready to get up close and personal with the Dolls as they enchant you with sinister seductions and hauntingly horrific fun.

Tickets are $20 in advance. Click here to purchase.

No. 13 — Opening reception for the 15th annual Hawai‘i Nei Art Exhibition (Hilo, Nov. 3)

Image from Facebook

The community is invited from 4 to 7 p.m. to kick off this annual multi-media juried art exhibit at the Wailoa Center, located at 200 Piopio St. The opening reception is free to attend and participants will enjoy live music by Kahele Miura and cold refreshments.

Hawaiʻi Nei celebrates the native flora and fauna of Hawai‘i Island and is hosted by the Three Mountain Alliance, the Hawai‘i Island Art Alliance, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Wailoa Center.

Artists of all ages have been invited to submit works of art highlighting the native plants, animals, and habitats of our beloved Hawai‘i Nei. The exhibit runs Nov. 3 through Dec. 14

No. 14 — Spartan Band Teaspresso Fundraiser (Hilo, Nov. 4)

Image from Facebook

Mark your calendar! Bentos, Spam musubi, ube cookies, drinks with add-ins including honey boba and strawberry bursting boba, as well as Teaspresso milk tea, honeydew milk tea, strawberry lilikoi lemonade and tropical tea will all be on sale to help raise funds for the band.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the band parking lot at Hilo Intermediate School, located at 587 Waiānuenue Ave.

No. 15 — Black and White Night Art Walk featuring C.M. Shim (Hilo, Nov. 3)

Image from Facebook

C.M. Shim is an illustrator, cartoonist and printmaker who works and lives on the Big Island. Shim’s work will be featured during this month’s First Friday Art Walk from 6 to 10:59 p.m. at the Exhibit, Gallery of Art and Events, located beyond the bar at Hilo Town Tavern, located at 168 Keawe St.

The Art Walk is also just one way to come support Downtown Hilo’s annual Black and White Night. The gallery is open after sundown.

No. 16 — The ‘Aina Speaks Exhibition (Hōlualoa, Nov. 4-Dec. 16)

Image from Facebook

This exhibition at the Donkey Mill Art Center, located at 78-6670 Māmalahoa Highway, is in conjunction with the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and celebrates inseparable connections with the land as an essential component of building a thriving and healthy community.

An opening reception is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4. An Artist x Farmer Talk Story & Potluck Brunch will be from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 12. The exhibition and accompanying events are free and open to the public.

For more information, click here.

No. 17 — Kona Wine Mixer (Kona, Nov. 6)

Image from Facebook

Mark your calendars for 6 p.m. for a sensory journey to the heart of the terroir of champagne at Kona Pasta Co., located at 75-5864 Walua Road.

The mixer will feature champagne from Grace Under Pressure as well as an evening with owner Christine Mercnik. Call 808-557-9595 to purchase your tickets today.

No. 18 — Off Da Cuff live (Kawaihae, Nov. 4)

Image from Facebook

Get ready to dance the night away at the Blue Dragon Tavern, located at 61-3615 Kawaihae Road, with this high-energy rock and roll party band that plays all your favorite hits with a mix of old-school rock featuring music from the 1960s through the 1980s.

It’s like listening to your favorite classic rock station!

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $13 at the door; children 12 and younger are free. To purchase tickets, click here.

No. 19 — First Friday Hula (Kona, Nov. 3)

Image from Keauhou Shopping Center website

Keauhou Shopping Center, located at 78-6831 Ali’i Drive, welcomes the community from 6 to 7 p.m. to its courtyard for a free hula show.

Bring a chair if you want, there is limited seating on the deck, and enjoy the show. For more information, click here.

No. 20 — Ni‘aulani Nature Walk (Volcano, Nov. 6)

Image from the Volcano Art Center website

This one-hour, free guided walk from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Volcano Art Center Ni‘aulani Campus, located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road, introduces individuals, families and groups to the most diverse, intact and accessible old-growth koa and ʻōhiʻa rain forest remaining in the state.

No reservations are required for groups of 5 or fewer.

While the tour is free, donations are greatly appreciated. Participants meet at the Ni‘aulani Gallery. For more information, click here.

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