This week we will look at the upcoming Merrie Monarch Festival of 2019. Just a few months away, you will be witnessing some amazing hula and mele straight from the Hula capitol of the world, Hilo, Hawai’i. According to ‘Ae Luv Hula that is. It is known as the Hula Olympics. Where people from around the world will gather to watch kumu hula and their haumana bring their best to the stage.

Afook-Chinen Center, Ho’olaulea

This year the date of the festival runs from Sunday, April 21 through Saturday, April 27. The Ho’olaulea ( celebration ) is the opening and starts at 9 am at the Afook-Chinen Civic Center in Hilo. There they offer free hula performances throughout the day by local halaus.

Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair

Dazzling Array at Merrie Monarch Hawaiian Arts Fair
Dazzling Array at Merrie Monarch Hawaiian Arts Fair

Monday through Friday at the newly renovated Grand Nani Loa Hotel @ 12pm and Hilo Hawaiian Hotel @ 1pm free midday entertainment. An annual favorite at the festival is the Merrie Monarch International Arts Fair. This free event that features local artists, crafters, and entertainment. This is an opportunity to buy anything from custom Instruments and Implements or name brand clothing of all kinds. Food is also a huge hit of course. The event will have people lining up hours early to get what you want. Wednesday, April 24th through Friday, the 26th from 9-5pm. Then 9 to 4pm Saturday.

Ho’ike Performances

Ho'ike night at the Merrie Monarch Festivals 2016
Ho’ike night at the Merrie Monarch Festivals 2016
Taiwanese tribal performance at Merrie Monarch Festivals 2016 Ho’ike night

On Wednesday an exhibition night of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific. Performances are free to the public, no tickets required. A much anticipated evening and seats fill up fast. The evening excitement begins at 6pm in the Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium.

Miss Aloha Hula Competition Evening

Miss Aloha Hula Contestant
Miss Aloha Hula Contestant

The Miss Aloha Hula begins on Thursday and opens the Merrie Monarch Festivals Hula Competition. Halau enters a student trained in Kahiko, Auana, and Oli. Each dancer must bring their best as competition can be fierce. Strick rules are incorporated for all participants. Every year it brings thrill and excitement around the world as we wait to see contestants vie for the coveted award of Miss Aloha Hula. You will have a few favorite.

Kahiko Night

Women Kahiko  Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Women Kahiko Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Men Kahiko Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Men Kahiko Merrie Monarch Festival Photo

On Friday evening is the Hula Kahiko or ancient hula performances. Halaus introduce their students and kahiko of their choice and costumes designed just for them. Some halau enters both their men and women in competition. Whatever they choose, every halau brings their best of best to Hilo. Halau may even choose to make their own implements if one is used. So, Halau begins preparing for the next year at the end of that year’s competition. The true dedication begins from that point on. Every step, every beat and every move belongs to the dance.

Auana Night

Women Auana Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Women Auana Merrie Monarch Festival Photo

Early Saturday is the Royal Parade (10:30am) in downtown Hilo.
One of the festival’s most entertaining and fun events for the entire family, the parade begins and ends at Pauahi St. (Kilauea Ave. — Keawe St. — Waiānuenue Ave. — Kamehameha Ave.). And this is where the new Miss Aloha hula is formally introduced to the community.

The final night of competition is where everyone can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere in the stadium. Auana is the modern hula accompanied by ukulele’s, guitars, bass and sometimes pianos. The beautiful voices of the mele are coordinated for each halau and usually mesmerizes the crowd every year. Costuming in Hawaiian fashion is to die for. Colorful and tasteful, fun and one of a kind, everyone enjoys the wonderful sight. Also, the most beautiful flower arrangement in their hair with matching leis adorns each dancer.

Men Auana Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Men Auana Merrie Monarch Festival Photo

The awards presentations begins after the last halaus performances. The Miss Aloha Hula was announced Thursday for their Kahiko and auana performances. Saturday is mainly for halau performances. First is the winners in Wahine (women) Kahiko, there are five place winners, the Kane (men) has four. Same for Auana (modern) hula, wahine five places and Kane four. There is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for Overall winners from combined scores.

Celebration for All

Merrie Monarch Festival Photo
Merrie Monarch Festival Photo

After all of that, the evening ends and the celebration begins. For most halaus, they will go home with no trophy or wins. But all halau are considered winners. Can you just imagine what it takes for a halau to be one who made it to Merrie Monarch?

Congratulations to every single Kumu and their halaus this year for their continued dedication to the art of Hula. Stay tuned for follow-ups on the 2019 Merrie Monarch Festivals. Or better yet, join the ‘Ae Luv Hula private group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/203530476935812/ or follow us on our facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/aeluvhula/ for more updates and follow-ups on the upcoming events. Here we share hula, mele and the Hawaiian culture with you. Every year now the MMF have live streaming of the event. Until then much Aloha to all~ ‘ae luv hula


Hula Festival – Annual Festival celebrating the culture, art and importance of the Hula in Hawaii.
Credits: Merrie Monarch Festivals &
Hawaiian Skies for this video