The stated mission of Hawaii’s Festivals of Aloha, held every September and October for the past six decades, is to “preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture and to celebrate the diverse customs and Aloha Spirit of Hawaii.” Don’t let the description fool you – put simply, Festivals of Aloha is Hawaii’s biggest cultural celebration and party, with more than 300 fun events taking place on all six islands. Heavenly Hana’s week is October 18-25 – here are just a few of the highlights you don’t want to miss.
The party gets started in grand style on October 18, as the entire town turns out for the colorful Hana Parade and Celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hana Ball Park. The vibrant procession features festive floats, vintage cars, motorcycles and local Hana groups, and the presentation of the Hana Royal Court. Be sure to spend some time in the Hawaiian Culture Demonstration Tent, where you’ll get a hands-on crash course in Hana’s music, food, pastimes and history. Don’t forget to wear your Hawaiian Nut Lei.
Travaasa Hana gets into the spirit on October 23, opening its doors to anyone wearing a 2014 Aloha Festivals ribbon from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., for some classic Hawaiian games. Ever heard of Nui Bowling? It’s kind of like lawn bowling – but with coconuts. After you’ve had that only-in-Hawaii experience, dig into a special Kupuna Luncheon in Travaasa’s Ka’uiki Dining Room (served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), featuring such authentic Island dishes as Cherry Wood Smoked Kalua Pork, Fresh Pohole Salad and Ahi Poke (Hawaiian-style sushi). Every bite will have you exclaiming “ono” – Island slang for “absolutely delicious.”
Head back to the Hana Ball Park for Ho’ike Night on October 25 for an evening packed with music, hula and food. Of special note is the Kahanu Gardens Ulu Cook-off, a very competitive contest to see who can come up with the most mouthwatering use for Ulu, a beloved Hawaiian breadfruit. Entries get tastier – and sometimes stranger – with every year.
That’s just the beginning of the wide array of activities and events planned during Hana’s Festival of Alohas. Check out the full schedule.