Merrie Monarch Festival of Hawaii
It is said by the locals of Hawaii that ‘Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people’, and during the Merrie Monarch Festival, this quote comes to life. The festival was created by the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, and the tradition has continued for more than forty years. It is a festival that not only enhances the experiencing of traveling to this exotic destination, but promotes the culture and heritage of the hula.
The festival was dedicated to King David Kalakaua, who was affectionately known as the Merrie Monarch, and ruled over Hawaii from 1874 until 1891. After many of the traditions and cultural aspects of the Hawaiian people were banned by missionaries, King Kalakaua went about restoring the arts, the hula, dance, legends, mythology, prayers, chants and music to the island. The Merrie Monarch Festival is an educational tool, to carry on the work that the King had started and to reinforce the traditions of the island, and keep their culture alive.
To preserve the authenticity of the hula, entrants into the hula competition combine their skills of the ancient hula dances with modern versions. Hula schools and workshops are filled to the brim with scholars trying to perfect their dances and some learning the art of hula from the start. Chants to accompany the dancers are rehearsed for hours and tell magical stories of mountains, volcanoes, rain, flowers, fish, birds, and many other relationships between humans and nature that are dear to the Hawaiian people. And with the dances and chants practiced to perfection, the next stage is the creating of authentic costumes, adorned with flowers and vibrant colors.
The week-long celebration kicks off on 30 March 2008 and runs to the 5th of April 2008, in Hilo. Visitors to the Merrie Monarch Festival can look forward to hula dancing, craft fairs, parades, exhibits and fascinating cultural exhibits. The hula competition is a three day event, as there are many entrants. The crowning of Miss Aloha Hula in the solo category is a grand affair. Other categories include group hula competitions in the ancient and modern styles. All events at the Merrie Monarch Festival are free of charge, with the exclusion of the hula competition, and tickets can be bought at the Merrie Monarch Festival offices.
For a week of exhilarating attractions and foot tapping celebrations, the Merrie Monarch Festival has everything visitors could want, and more. With Hawaii being known for its romantic beaches, relaxing atmosphere and magnificent attractions, the festival only adds to the already unforgettable experience that Hawaii has to offer.