The Aloha Festivals, one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most highly regarded and oldest cultural events, will kick off its 67th year on the island of Oahu from Sept. 12 through 28, featuring three weekends of primarily free events loaded with authentic Hawaii experiences.
“We try to create events that feature food, music and the unique culture and traditions of Hawaii,” Helene “Sam” Shenkus, co-chair of the Aloha Festivals board of directors, said in a statement. “These are the common threads within our islands, and experiencing them perpetuates our aloha spirit, as we bring kamaaina [local residents] and malihini [visitors] together.”
Paying special tribute this year to the theme of “Moana Nui Kea — Celebrate Ocean Voyaging,” the festival will offer residents and visitors a chance to learn more about the Hawaiian culture’s extraordinary bond with the sea.
Shankus added that many events will be geared toward honoring “the brave and inspiring canoe builders, voyagers and navigators who have strived tirelessly to help keep our native culture vibrant.”
One of the festival’s many photogenic highlights is the annual Floral Parade on Sept. 28, starring a collection of elaborate floats, local marching bands, many different hula halau, or schools, and pa‘u riding, a Hawaiian style of traditional horseback riding for women who are commonly dressed in long skirts.
Traditional arts and crafts demonstrations are also a prominent element at Aloha Festival events, as are children’s hula performances and Hawaiian chanting.
On Sept. 21, visitors won’t want to miss the Waikiki Hoolaulea, one of Hawaii’s largest block parties, where thousands of residents take to Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki beginning around 7 p.m. for all kinds of excellent local food, Hawaiian crafts, and music by a host of well-known island entertainers.
“Aloha Festivals is a celebration of our kamaaina lifestyle, and we welcome everyone to join in on the festivities, including visitors looking for an authentic Island experience,” said Jay Talwar, senior vice president of marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau. “Timed to the ancient Hawaiian makahiki season, a roughly four-month period that marks the Hawaiian new year, this unique celebration occurs in September, traditionally an off-season for tourism, so it’s a great time to come visit.”
To learn more about the Aloha Festivals, check out an abridged version of the film “Aloha Festivals: Traditions of Aloha” on Vimeo
. For a full schedule of events, visit www.alohafestivals.com