Hawaii Big Island's Merrie Monarch Festival puts hula in spotlight By Shane Nelson / March 09, 2015 Share 1 -- One of Hawaii’s most culturally significant events, the annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, is scheduled for April 5 through 11 this year. The Aloha State’s premiere hula competition, the weeklong series of events is dedicated to King David Kalakaua, the “Merrie Monarch” best remembered for his efforts to restore Hawaiian culture and traditions in the late 1800s. The festival features free daily hula and musical performances, along with a popular arts and crafts festival. However, the true Merrie Monarch highlights are ticketed competitions for Miss Aloha Hula and the group kahiko (ancient) and auana (modern) hula specialties, danced by hula halau, or schools, from across the state at Hilo’s Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium. This year’s Merrie Monarch Festival concludes with a parade through the town of Hilo on Saturday, April 11 beginning at 10:30 a.m. Visit www.merriemonarch.com for a complete schedule of events.