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Merrie Monarch Festival

Merrie Monarch Festival

Published on - 2023-04-02

The week after Easter is special in Hawai’i. It’s the Merrie Monarch Festival, an annual celebration in honor of King David Kalakaua.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to attend Merrie Monarch in Hilo so you can join the island fun.

Who Is The Merrie Monarch? 

King David Kalakaua was elected as ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1874. He earned the nickname “Merrie Monarch” because of his many elaborate royal functions that often featured hula dancing as the main entertainment.

Why Is The Merrie Monarch Festival Special?

King Kalakaua understood the importance of the arts for the continued viability of Hawaiian culture. His reign saw the revival of many indigenous Hawaiian traditions, folklore, and cultural practices, especially hula.

Today, the festival is both a celebration of traditional Hawaiian culture and an international showcase of Hawaiian arts to share our customs with future generations.

2023 marks the 60th year of the Merrie Monarch Festival, and these past six decades of hula performances and local artisan craft fairs have contributed to a renaissance of traditional Hawaiian arts. Organizers expect thousands of attendees each year. If you’ll be in Hilo in April, here’s how to get there.

How Do I Attend Merrie Monarch?

If you’re flying to the Big Island, the Hilo International Airport is your best option. If you land in Kona, you’ll have about a 90-minute drive across the island to reach the festivities.

The hula performances are held at Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in the heart of downtown. It’s a short walking distance from parks, the Bayfront Beach, and restaurants and accommodations. The craft fair runs Wednesday through Saturday at the nearby Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium.

The craft fair is free to attend, and tickets for the hula competitions are sold only on-site. Most years, the tickets are sold out 4-5 weeks in advance of the event.

Follow the event’s Facebook page or website for the most up-to-date information.

Hotels sell out fast for this week. Hilo isn’t nearly as big as Honolulu, and you may find skyrocketing prices during the festival. Consider staying outside the city and driving in.

I Couldn’t Get Tickets—Should I Still Go?

If you’re on the Big Island but couldn’t get tickets to the main events, don’t think you need to skip the Merrie Monarch Festival entirely. You can still go to the craft fair and enjoy a lively hula parade on Saturday morning. The energy and vibrancy of the city are worth experiencing in themselves.

While you’re on the island, take a few days to see other local attractions such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the famous black sand beaches.

Get There with GoVibe

GoVibe is your local rental car company with VIP service at affordable rates. Reserve online, and we’ll pick you up at the airport — no waiting, no hassle, and no hidden fees. As a locally owned and operated Hawai’i company, we’re proud to support the Merrie Monarch Festival and other celebrations of our culture.

Contact us to confirm availability for your travel dates. We’ll see you here soon!

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