Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, Hawaii

I didn’t have to travel far for my first inspiration travel posts, there are so many beautiful and amazing places to visit in all the Hawaii islands including the Big Island where I live part of the time.  Living in East Hawaii is filled with wonderful and exciting adventures especially right after Easter when the Merrie Monarch hula festival begins. Hilo town comes alive with this world wide hula venue. The festival covers everything and anything focused on the beautiful hula dance, demonstrations, competitions and various events celebrating the hula.

Every day is set with amazing hula performances at different venues around Hilo town and many hula halau (hula schools) coming from all over the world converge to enjoy, compete and perform in the festivities. You will see some of the best hula performances in the world at this week long celebration of hula.

Its a perfect opportunity for a photographer to attend a celebration like this because it happens only at certain times of the year or at limited timeframes.  Also, it brings out the best moments to photograph the daily activites, local costumes, street life, human interaction or portraiture, specialty or local food, and many other activities occuring at these venues.  Inspiration can happen at any moment during the festivities and you can capture a dynamic photograph by just walking down the street, visiting some arts  venue or participating in some of the main festival programs.

The first day of peformances starts on Easter Sunday and is a called the Ho’olaule’a (Hawaiian celebration or event). The event features well known local hula halau (hula schools) from Hawaii Island and is a favorite event with local audiences. Usually the auditorium is packed with audience members supporting their favorite hula halau with loud cheers and whistles. The energy level and spirit of Aloha is alive with the hula dancing along with audience participation.

Many hula halau include young keiki (children) dancing in their age groups and hula performances are encouraged at all ages from young to old. But the keiki hula performances are very popular and fun to watch at the Ho’olaule’a show.

Traditional hula dancing known as hula kahiko is a very popular dance to see and experience. Not only are the costumes handmade, but also their adornments, leis and musical instruments are hand done for each specific performance. Every part of a dance and costume is presented with authentic details with time consuming practise and performance. This is to present a hula dance to the audience so they can experience an authenthic and ancient hula performance.


The modern dance style called hula Auana is also popular with colorful outfits and a beautiful and expressive flowing style. Most hulas dances are typically done in this modern style of dance with popular Hawaiian music performed with an ukulele, guitar and base guitar combination and singers complementing the dance.



Here are a few more performance highlights of last night’s event.

The Merrie Monarch Ho’olaulea hula performances in Hilo are just the start of a week long celebration of hula dancing at its finest. The rest of the week comprises of beautiful hula demonstrations, crafts fairs, singing competitions, various competitive dance performances and a colorful parade with the champions of the hula events.

To view more images of this event, please visit my flickr site below

A hui hou (until we meet again) – hopefully at another beautiful hula performance at the Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo.

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