A Guide to Hawaii’s Merrie Monarch Festival

Here’s a brief guide as you get ready for the ultimate cultural experience of a lifetime in Hawaii!

Americas, Culture & History

Undoubtedly so, Hawaii is among the most coveted island destinations on the planet. From unforgettable beach life experiences to exploring new cultures, the Islands of Aloha boast plenty of activities to partake in for any kind of visitor. 

If you’re looking to best enjoy this island paradise, you might as well consider planning a trip around the time of the Merrie Monarch Festival, a vibrant celebration that honors Hawaiian music, dance, and art – all in one place.

Here’s a brief guide as you get ready for the ultimate cultural experience of a lifetime in Hawaii!

1. The Merrie Monarch Festival – What to Know Before You Go 

The Merrie Monarch Festival is an annual hula celebration in Hilo, Hawaii. It’s a six-day event featuring ancient and modern interpretations of Hawaiian dance, music, art, and culture. Attracting thousands of people from all over the world, this iconic festive gathering provides insight into the beauty that is present within traditional cultural practices.

Besides enjoying masterful performances from some of Hawaii’s leading dancers and chanters, you can also take part in workshops and classes to learn more about various cultural practices. While at it, you get plenty of opportunities to explore the abundant natural beauty that Hawaii has to offer across its chain of islands.

2. Where and When? – All the Details You Need to Plan Your Trip 

As earlier mentioned, the Merrie Monarch Festival takes place in Hilo, Hawaii every year. The week-long festival has been taking place every year for the last 6 or so decades. It generally falls on the third week of April and includes a variety of activities from sunrise to sunset—from traditional chantings to spectacular hula dances, art exhibitions, Hawaiian entertainment, workshops, and classes.

scenic driving tours of HawaiiThis is not to mention the numerous Hawaiian scenic drives you can partake in on your way there if you’re feeling a bit adventurous. All in all, make sure to plan your trip accordingly and ahead of time, so you don’t miss out on any fun!

3. Making it Memorable – Packing & Budgeting Tips for a Successful Journey

As with any other festival, planning, and budgeting are essential for a successful trip to the Merrie Monarch Festival. For the best travel experience, you’ll want to prioritize your expenses carefully. At the very least, book tickets early and make other travel arrangements in advance, chalking out an itinerary that best fits your needs.

If you’re short of funds for your trip, you can always use a credit card or get a travel loan to finance part or the whole of your trip. As you would when you have to calculate mortgage rates before applying for one, it pays to be as keen when picking a travel loan or credit card.

And while there’s no particular dress code for attending the event, be mindful of what might make your experience more enjoyable when packing. If you intend to participate in some of the activities, for instance, it might be a good idea to bring breathable material clothing (such as cotton and linen), comfortable walking shoes, and sun-protective accessories. 

4. Explore Hawaii’s Rich Cultural History through Its Hula Traditions

Hawaii dance PixabayThere’s more to the hula (a form of traditional dance in Hawaii) than just entertainment. As anyone can tell from its rich 60-year history, it’s a meaningful story-telling tradition with connections to Hawaiian mythologies and cultural heritage. Every movement reflects the many aspects of the culture.

At its core, the Merrie Monarch Festival stands for education and relationships—exactly what encourages many to continue appreciating this unique art form! So don’t miss out on an opportunity to witness some of these beautiful dance performances and learn more about Hawaiian culture.

5. From Green Room to Grandstage – How Hula Dance Competitions Work

Each Merrie Monarch Festival is divided into numerous dance competitions, and the performers are normally ranked based on techniques such as timing, synchronization, and movements. Of course, knowing all of this beforehand allows you to enjoy the performances even more!

Aside from the exciting performances showcased on the grand stage, you can also take a glance behind-the-scenes to satisfy your curiosity. For instance, the Green Room is where dancers practice and get mentally prepared before their performances.

Attending the Merrie Monarch Festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It provides an opportunity to learn Hawaiian customs and how they’ve been passed down for generations. If you’re planning a visit to this iconic Hawaiian festival, the tips above can help make your travel experience more enjoyable.

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Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

Travel articles, news, special offers, festivals and events from the Travel Begins at 40 Editorial team and our global network of travel industry contributors.

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