Top 10 things to do on Big Island for June 27-July 3: Pride Festival, ‘Chicago,’ ‘You Had Me at Hilo,’ comedy legend Tommy Davidson and more

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You know, sometimes the week before a holiday can be boring with everybody saving their energy for the special occasion.

You shouldn’t have any issues finding something to do during the next 7 days on the Big Island leading up to the July 4 blowout.

It’s Pride Weekend in Hilo, meaning the 2024 Pride Festival will “Celebrate Life!” and the island community will turn out to cover downtown in brilliant rainbow colors and put diversity and love on display while being fabulous and having a ton of fun.

You can also help end Pride Weekend and Pride Month by attending the Equality HI All-Ages ‘Ohana “Aloha ‘Oe” Farewell BBQ and Potluck at Coconut Island, which promises another event full of fun and fellowship with friends.

If you’ve ever wanted to take a trip to Chicago but never had the chance, Hilo Education Arts Repertory Theatre is bringing the Windy City to you, only the 1920s version with a backdrop of murder and sensationalism, with its production of the Broadway hit “Chicago” opening this weekend at the historic Palace Theater in Hilo.

And if you’re looking to get a few — or more — laughs in at any point in the next several days, there’s the “You Had Me at Hilo” improv show by the Big Island Comedy Theater’s newly formed improv ensemble at the Hilo Town Market and comedy legend Tommy Davidson of “In Living Color” fame is performing at the Kona Elks Lodge.


There’s all that, plus the Hawaiian Cultural Festival and 63rd Anniversary Celebration at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park and more.

Here are our top 10 things to do on the Big Island from June 27 through July 3.

No. 1 — 2024 Hawai‘i Island LGBTQ+ Pride Festival (Hilo, June 29)

A photo from the 2023 Hawai‘i Island LGBTQ+ Pride Festival. (Photo credit: Megan Moseley)

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Mo‘oheau Park and Bandstand, 400 Kamehameha Ave.


Hey, all you kings and queens! Get ready to strut your stuff and express yourself while spreading the love during this annual fabulously fun festival in celebration of Pride Month, where diversity is on display and everyone is welcome. This year’s festival theme is “Celebrate Life!” in honor of Greg Lupton, aka Sister Buffy, a beloved friend and Pride organizing committee member, who died earlier this year.

The celebration will be a little different, with no parade and an extended festival schedule with additional entertainment. There will be five bands playing at different times throughout the day on the main stage, and the multi-talented Bridge Hartman will be emcee. Hartman and his friends will also perform between band acts.

A second stage will feature drag performances throughout the day and Aerial Arts Hawai‘i is planning to set up a performance on the grass, weather permitting. Information and merchandise booths from a variety of LGBTQ+ and ally organizations and merchants will be available.

And don’t forget the food vendors. Many of your favorites are returning this year. The Hilo Pride Picnic, sponsored by Hilo Community Players, Hawai‘i Island LGBTQ+ and Kumukahi Health + Wellness, featuring several drag performances and hosted by Cocoa Chandelier, returns for its fourth installment this year and is free. Bring your own chair and picnic blanket.

The festival is free to attend and family-friendly, with plenty of activities for keiki. Alcohol, drugs and nudity are not allowed. So bring the whole family and help cover downtown Hilo in brilliant rainbow colors. For more information, click here.


No. 2 — Equality HI All-Ages ‘Ohana “Aloha ‘Oe” Farewell BBQ and Potluck (Hilo, June 30)

Screenshot of image from the Equality HI website

When: Noon to 6 p.m.

Location: Moku‘ola (Coconut Island), 77 Keliipio Place

If you’re looking for a laidback and fun way to end Pride weekend, with plenty of friends and community members to celebrate with, along with food and fellowship plus a nice ocean breeze, this event is right up your alley.

There will be a couple of canopies for shade, a barbecue pit, good music and fun. Plus, Equality HI will provide hot dogs and hamburgers. All that’s asked is that you bring a potluck dish or snack to share for the party. Don’t forget to bring your reef-safe sunscreen, camping chair and awesome water toys. Also, remember to keep glass containers away from the water, and help keep the area clean.

The BBQ is open to all, so feel free to invite your friends. Come when you can, but RSVP so dishes can be coordinated. Hope to see you there!

No. 3 — Bobby Rush live in concert (Waimea, July 2)

Portion of an image from the Kahilu Theatre website

When: 7 p.m.

Location: Kahilu Theatre, 67-1186 Lindsey Road

This blues legend, Blues Hall of Famer and three-time Grammy winner’s career spans more than six decades, earning him a reputation as the “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit.” Rush’s music is a vibrant blend of blues, soul and funk, characterized by his expressive vocals, electrifying harmonica skills and charismatic stage presence.

Known for his high-energy shows, Rush’s concerts are a sensory experience, featuring storytelling, humor and infectious grooves that showcase his ability to innovate while staying true to the authentic blues sound. His show in Waimea will be an unforgettable evening filled with magic from this living blues legend.

Don’t miss this chance to see a master performer who continues to captivate audiences worldwide, influencing and inspiring generations of musicians and fans alike. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online or by calling 808-885-6868.

No. 4 — “Chicago” (Hilo, June 28-30, July 5-7 and July 12-14)

Portion of a courtesy image

When: 7 p.m. June 28-29, July 5-6 and 12-13; 3 p.m. June 30 and July 7 and 14)

Location: Palace Theater, 38 Haili St.

This all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza filled with girls, guns, glamour and glitz — produced by Hilo Education Arts Repertory Theatre — is set amidst the outrageous and sexy decadence of the 1920s. Desperate to avoid conviction after maliciously murdering her lover, housewife and nightclub performer Roxie Hart dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

This razzle-dazzle smash hit with a universal story of fame, fortune and “all that jazz” features one show-stopping song after another and some of the most thrilling dancing ever seen on a Hilo stage. So come on down to the historic Palace Theater and see for yourself why the name on everyone’s lips is gonna be “Chicago.”

Tickets are $15 for students, $20 general admission and $25 priority orchestra and can be purchased at the Palace website or the Hilo Education Arts Repertory Theatre website. Student tickets can only be purchased through the Palace box office with valid student ID. There also is a $5 program fee applied to all tickets that go to support educational experiences for young performers.

No. 5 — Hawaiian Cultural Festival and 63rd Anniversary Celebration (Hōnaunau, June 29)

Portion of a file image courtesy of Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

This year’s theme “Ulu Ka ‘Ōhi‘a a Lau Ka Wai” focuses on the importance of Hawai‘i’s forests to the water cycle and the many ecosystems they support. It will be a day full of cultural traditions, a hula hōʻike (exhibition), educational information and presentations.

Park visitors will be able to interact with elders and masters of their crafts as they demonstrate ancestral skills passed down through the generations. There also will be talks in the amphitheater, including on topics such as environmental connections through hula, rapid ohia death and more.

The festival and celebration are free to attend, but parking might be limited. For more information, click here.

No. 6 — “You Had Me at Hilo” Improv Show (Hilo, June 29)

Portion of an image from Facebook

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Location: Hilo Town Market, 69 Waiānuenue Ave.

Join the Big Island Comedy Theater’s newly formed improv ensemble for a premier performance that will feature comedy created on the fly based on suggestions from the audience.

The show is similar in style to “Who’s Line is it Anyway,” which took the phrase “audience participation” literally with members of the studio audience suggesting ideas for games and skits that actors, usually improvisational comics, would perform. Expect to not only have a fun night out on the town but get a full dose of laughter.

To purchase tickets, which are just $15, click here. There are also shows planned for July 20 and Aug. 10. For more information about Big Island Comedy Theater, click here.

No. 7 — Uncle Charlie live (Honoka‘a, June 28)

Portion of an image from Facebook

When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Location: Honoka‘a Public House, 45-3490 Māmane St.

This psychedelic rock band featuring Steve Fundy on guitar, Jason Sherbundy on keys, Dave Ojeda on bass and Tim Taylor on drums is bringing the jams to Honoka‘a.

Performing the music of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, The Beatles and others, the band is known for their mind-bending improvisational jams. Every show promises to be a unique experience.

For more information about the event, call Honoka‘a Public House at 808-775-1666 or email to You can find more about the band on their Facebook page.

No. 8 — Mai Tai Class (Waikōloa, June 27)

Portion of photo from Facebook

When: Noon to 1 p.m.

Location: Kuleana Rum Shack, 69-201 Waikōloa Beach Drive

Don’t just learn how to craft the original 1944 Trader Vic’s Mai Tai in a hands-on “talk story” bar lab. Allow Kuleana Rum Shack’s passionate rum ambassadors to brighten your spirit with the historical tale of this awesome and iconic cocktail.

The experience will begin with a guided tasting of three of Kuleana Rum Works’ award-winning rums; Hawaiian Rum Agricole, Huihui and Nanea. Following the tasting, you will be walked through the process of building a craft 1944 Trader Vic’s Mai Tai using Kuleana Rum Works rums. Measure, pour, shake and enjoy.

Several other times and dates are also available. For more information and to book a class, click here.

No. 9 — Cruize Paradise 2024 Car Show (Waikōloa, June 29)

Photo from the Hawai‘i Classic Cruizers website

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Queens’ Marketplace, 69-201 Waikōloa Beach Drive

It’s one of the most awaited classic car events in the world, and it’s making a stop on the Big Island. The Cruize Paradise Car Show at Queen’s Marketplace is back! Bring the family for an unforgettable day with the Hawai‘i Classic Cruizers.

Enjoy live music while viewing a stunning array of vintage and modern beauties. So get your motor running. No excuses. This summer, get ready to cruise paradise.

Free to attend. For more information, click here.

No. 10 — Tommy Davidson: Comedy Legend (Kailua-Kona, July 1)

Portion of an image from Facebook

When: 7:30 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Location: Kona Elks Lodge Theatre, 75-170 Hualālai Road

This comedic legend of “In Living Color” fame is making a Big Island stop for a spectacular night of standup shenanigans. The show will also feature guests Jose Raymond and Jesse James.

Davidson’s hilarious impressions of Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson and other icons have become infamous. His dynamism on In Living Color led to three Showtime specials: “On Strength of New York,” “Illin’ in Philly” and “Takin’ it to DC.”

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets, which start at $35.

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