Culture blossoms across Hawaii in arts season


POIPU, Kauai -- Theres much more to Hawaii than sun, surf and sand. Culture vultures neednt kick the habit once they land in Honolulu and don a lei, as all of Hawaii, from Kauai to the Big Island, is packed with enlightening and entertaining diversions.

The Hawaii Arts season, promoted annually by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, kicked off at the end of February with one-time performances by Indias Nrityagram Dance Ensemble on Maui and then Oahu, and a two-day civic festival celebrating the town of Waimea on Kauai.

Upcoming one-time-only events include an April 29 tribute to paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys, at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club; the Diamond Head Crater Celebration on Oahu April 1, featuring the first concerts to be held within the volcanic crater since 1978; and the Kokua Festival ecological benefit concert -- featuring country singer Willie Nelson, among others -- at the Maui Arts and Cultural Centers A&B Amphitheater on April 19.

Other top draws this spring include the International Festival of Canoes in Lahaina, on Maui, to run May 13 to 27, and the Merrie Monarch Festival, celebrating the traditional island art of hula, in Hilo, on the Big Island, April 16 to 22.

There also are regular, ongoing cultural offerings of which vacationers can avail themselves at any time of the year.

Following are a few events:


" Slack-key concerts: Every Friday and Sunday, Doug and Sandy McMaster, who play the traditional Hawaiian slack-key guitar and ukulele, offer free concerts at the Hanalei Family Community Center. For more information and dates, visit


" Museum tours: Daily and weekly tours are offered at several museums, palaces and other attractions in the Honolulu area. For example, the Bishop Museum, the states largest such institution, with 24 million items from Hawaii and Polynesia, and its Hawaii Maritime Center division offer daily tours. For more, see

The Hawaii State Art Museum ( offers free access to the largest collection of work by Hawaiian artists in the world, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

And every Tuesday, theater buffs can take a free tour of the Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu, built in 1922 for theatrical and film presentations, and then closed for renovations from 1989 to 1996. The theater is now one of the states premier venues for touring shows and concerts. For more information on the Hawaii Theatre docent tours, visit

Visitors can also tour 124-year-old Iolani Palace, the only official royal residence in the U.S., every Tuesday and Saturday. Once home to King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, the palace was a focal point in the former Kingdom of Hawaii. Reservations are recommended; for more, visit

" Poetry slams: Head to the ARTS @ Marks Garage space in downtown Honolulu Wednesday afternoons to listen in on free poetry slams (competitions in which poetry is judged by audience members) and workshops run by youth group Youth Speaks Hawaii. Beginners are welcome. For more information, visit

" Arts walks/festivals: Fridays mean the arts in Honolulu. On the first Friday of each month, locals and visitors pour into Chinatown for late-evening access to area galleries, museums and studios. For more, visit

And on the last Friday of every month, visiting art buffs and professionals can head to the Honolulu Academy of the Arts for an Art After Dark social to mix with like-minded locals. See for more information.

The third weekend of each month, the free Waikiki Artfest, featuring arts and crafts from 75 local artisans, holds court at Kapiolani Park. The fair, free of charge, runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; call (808) 696-6717.

For more on the Hawaii Arts season, visit

To contact Destinations editor Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].

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