Aloha Festivals honors cowboys in 60th anniversary season


With paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, as its theme this year, Aloha Festivals will celebrate its 60th anniversary season in September and October. This eight-week celebration of Hawaii's culture offers events on each of Hawaii's main islands. Festivals enable visitors and locals to rub elbows, and most events are free.

Started a year after the end of World War II, Aloha Festivals is the only statewide festival in the U.S. From modest beginnings, it has grown to include hundreds of events, adding value to a visit in autumn, the slowest time of year for Hawaii tourism. 

"We're at a time where visitors to the islands want to experience Hawaii's cultural diversity," said Mark Polivka, president of the Aloha Festivals. "We chose the paniolo theme because it represents a unique aspect of our culture.

The word paniolo -- both singular and plural -- derives from the Hawaiian pronunciation of "espanol," for it was Mexican cowboys who created Hawaii's earliest cattle ranches in the 1830s. Cattle ranching remains an active Hawaiian industry, primarily on the Big Island and Maui.

Despite Aloha Festivals' wide scope, hoteliers and wholesalers do not promote or package it, although many hotels do host festival events.

Agents with clients traveling to Hawaii through November can integrate Aloha Festivals into itineraries. Highlights include:

  • Big Island
    Sept. 20 to 21: Hula Festival at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.
    Sept. 30: Hoolaulea (street fair) in Hilo. 

  • Kauai
    Sept. 12 to 13: Festival luau.
    Oct. 20: Cultural festival at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. 

  • Lanai
    Sept. 29: Hawaiian concert, Lanai City.
    Sept. 30: Paniolo Day hoolaulea.

  • Molokai
    Sept. 28: Royal Court investiture.
    Sept. 30: Parade/hoolaulea, Kaunakakai. 

  • Maui
    Sept. 16: Investiture of the Royal Court, at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. 
    Oct. 7: Lahaina Hoolaulea.
    Oct. 7 to 14: Week of events in Hana.

  • Oahu
    Sept. 9 to 17: Paniolo exhibition, the Bishop Museum.
    Sept. 16: Aloha Festivals Parade, 60th anniversary concert at the Waikiki Shell.
  • A full events schedule is available online at  

    To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].

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