The Merrier Monarch Festival is an annual week-long cultural event that takes place in Hilo, Hawaii.
General: Cost: Paid
General: Photo Opportunity
Cultural & Historical: Luau
The Merrier Monarch Festival is an annual week-long cultural event that takes place in Hilo, Hawaii. The event honors the efforts of King David Kalakaua in preserving the native language, arts, and traditions of the state. Without Kalakaua’s dedication, Hawaii’s dance, the hula, might not be a part of the state’s modern culture.
The Festival’s History
During his nearly 20 year reign in the late 1800s, King Kalakaua advocated the continuation of native art in all its forms. He brought back traditions from the brink of extinction and ensured the survival of other traditions far past his death. Over 70 years after his passing, leading government officials decided to honor him through a festival meant to attract increased tourism to Hawaii. The idea worked. The festival began to include more events as the years went on and increasingly became about honoring the locals as opposed to attracting money for the area.
As the event became more organic to the area and its traditions, more tourists attended the festival. They wanted to see what made Hawaii so different from the other 49 states. Because of the increased attendance by tourists, the festival earned a greater amount of money for the area. Thanks to this extra funding, this non-profit sponsored event now hosts the world’s premiere hula competition. Additionally, the non-profit organization that supports the event now funds workshops, scholarships, and other education-related resources with the festival’s profit.
Community’s View on the Festival
Many Hawaiians view the festival as the driving force behind their ability to maintain their culture while being a part of a nation that shares no native cultural similarities. Most countries in situations resembling that of Hawaii’s watch as their traditions are dominated and eventually extradited by the dominant culture. Fortunately, the Merrier Monarch Festival allows Hawaiians to include their past into their modern lives.
The festival’s events are split into two types: non-competition and competition. During the festival’s first half, there are free performances and also free arts and crafts fairs. The festival’s second half is composed of hula dance competition at the Edith Kanaka’ole Tennis Stadium. This competition draws large crowds as it displays local and non-local talent to an international audience.
However, to attend competitive performances you must purchase tickets. Ticket prices range from $5 to $30 per person, depending on the seat’s location and if the seat is reserved or for general admission. At the end of the festival, a parade is held. The parades feature a myriad of local talent and important figures, and it is often cited as one of the most exciting and family-friendly events of the festival.
Location and Date
If a traveler is looking to get a taste of organic Hawaiian culture through the Merrie Monarch Festival, plan to book a flight to Hawaii for early April. The official week for the festival is announced 6-7 months ahead of time on the Merrie Monarch Festival website. Check there for any formal announcements about the festival.
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