Top 10 things to do on Big Island for March 28-April 3: Merrie Monarch Festival kicks off Sunday; Easter events abound

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If it’s Easter Weekend on the Big Island, that means it’s Merrie Monarch Festival time.

The 61st annual festival celebrating hula and all things Hawaiian kicks off Sunday with the annual Ho‘olaule‘a. Hilo will be abuzz with activities for everyone during the festival throughout the week, including performances by local hula hālau, music, arts and crafts and more.

There’s so much happening, our first five things to do on the Big Island for the week of March 28-April 3 are all Merrie Monarch-related.

No. 1 — Ho‘ike Night (Hilo, April 3)

Big Island Now file photo

This popular night of non-competitive performances is an exhibition of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium, located at 350 Kalanikoa St.

While admission is free, festival organizers encourage donations at the door to help kōkua Maui, especially those impacted by the Lāhainā wildfire.


No. 2 — Ho‘olaule‘a (Hilo, March 31)

Video from the official Merrie Monarch Festival YouTube channel featuring a past Ho‘olaule‘a.

Come out to the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, located at 323 Manono St., to help kick off Merrie Monarch Week.

The celebration begins at 9 a.m. and will feature performances by local hālau and more. Admission is free.

No. 3 — 61st annual Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair (Hilo, April 3-5)

Big Island Now file photo by Nathan Christophel

This annual favorite is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, located at 323 Manono St., and adjacent Butler Buildings.


The event showcases and supports more than 150 Hawai’i artisans and creators. It also features mesmerizing performances by talented hula hālau and other entertainers. And don’t forget all the ono food options.

Admission is free.

No. 4 — 5th annual Hawai‘i Fashion Showcase (Hilo, April 2)

Image from Eventbrite

Prepare to be transported into a world where elegance meets nature’s splendor as this highly anticipated “Jewels of the Land and Sea” themed fashion show comes to life from 7 to 9 p.m.

Set against the enchanting backdrop of the transformed Lili‘uokalani Gardens, located at 189 Lihiwai St., illuminated under the night sky, this spectacle promises to be a mesmerizing fusion of fashion, music, nature and artistry. The event will be hosted by Emmy-winning creators McKenna Maduli and Lacy Deniz.


An after-party concert and marketplace is also planned from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

No. 5 — Merrie Monarch enrichment programs (Hilo, April 2-5)

Image from ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center website

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place, is excited to announce even more incredible programs during this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival.

Enjoy numerous workshops, extraordinary hula and mele, plus enthralling films, presentations and panel discussions with special guests. Tickets are now on sale for the programs, which will be at various times throughout the three days.

For our full lineup and to buy tickets, click here.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Easter Bunny will also be hopping around the island this weekend. The last five events in this week’s top 10 things to do feature a few of his upcoming escapades.

No. 6 — The Biggest Easter Egg Hunt (Hilo, March 29)

Courtesy image

This annual eggstravaganza at Francis F.C. Wong Stadium, located at 323 Manono St., features a hunt for hundreds of eggs strewn about the field. No baskets are needed; bags will be provided. Participating keiki also have the chance to win one of six grand prizes.

Children 4 and 5 years old will hunt first at 10 a.m. followed by those ages 6 to 8 at 10:30 a.m. and finally children 9 to 12 will search beginning at 11 a.m. No parents/guardians will be allowed on the field during the hunts.

In addition to an egg hunt, the event also features an ice cream eating contest, crafts and other keiki activities. Doors open at 8 a.m. For more information, call Royden Chow at 808-938-2014.

No. 7 — KidX Easter Celebration (Kailua-Kona, March 30)

Screenshot of image from Keauhou Shopping Center website

Keauhou Shopping Center, located at 78-6831 Ali‘i Drive, invites the community to hop into spring with this special free event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the mall’s Phase Two parking lot fronting Regal Cinemas.

Come enjoy photos with the Easter Bunny, crafts, balloon twister, glitter tattoos, yard games, goody bags and a photo booth. Entertainment will be provided by TheWave 92.1.

While the event is free to attend, Eventbrite registration is required.

No. 8 — Easter Eggstravaganza (Kailua-Kona, through March 31)

Image from Kona Commons website

Find the Easter Bunny having a hopping good time handing out Easter eggs to keiki and posing for photos from 5 to 7 p.m. daily through March 31 in the area fronting Jeans Warehouse at Kona Commons Shopping Center, located at 74-5450 Makala Boulevard.

Bring the entire ‘ohana to join the Easter fun and welcome spring.

No. 9 — Easter Sunday Brunch (Kailua-Kona, March 31)

Image from King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel website

Join Honu’s on the Beach at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, located at 75-5660 Palani Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for an Easter feast Hawaiian style.

Delight in a lavish spread featuring island-inspired delicacies and classic favorites from baby mixed greens to slow-roasted prime rib. Other menu highlights include poke, herb-roasted chicken and sauteed ali‘i mushrooms, among others. A full brunch menu can be found online.

Cost is $85 per person. Click here to find a table.

No. 10 — Easter Festival (March 30, Pāhoa)

Image from Facebook

Puna Kai Shopping Center, located at 15-2714 Pāhoa Village Road, invites the community to attend this special holiday event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring an Easter egg hunt at noon for keiki and more.

The Easter Bunny will be hopping around during the event as well, so make sure to stop by and take pictures with him. Those who attend can also peruse the wares and art of many vendors selling their locally made crafts.

This is a great opportunity to support local crafters and help the Pāhoa community.

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