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Get ready for an exciting week of vibrant culture and stunning performances! World Hula Week, also known as the Merrie Monarch Festival, lights up Hawaii from March 31 to April 6.

This festival is a spectacular celebration of hula, the traditional Hawaiian dance, showcasing the unique and rich heritage of the Hawaiian people.

The Merrie Monarch Festival isn’t just a dance competition; it’s a week-long tribute to Hawaiian culture, arts, and crafts.

Visitors can marvel at the skilled hula dancers competing in both traditional and modern styles. The festival includes various events such as art fairs, where attendees can purchase unique local crafts and free public performances.

This festival not only entertains but also educates and immerses attendees in Hawaiian traditions and the spirit of aloha.

This annual festival celebrates the legacy of King David Kalākaua, known as the “Merrie Monarch.” He played a crucial role in reviving many Hawaiian traditions, including hula, which earlier missionary influences in Hawaii had suppressed.

Today, the festival serves as both a commemoration of his efforts and a vibrant exhibition of Hawaiian culture, attracting visitors and participants from around the globe to the beautiful shores of Hilo, Hawaii.​

History of World Hula Week (Merrie Monarch Festival)

The Merrie Monarch Festival, which is now recognized as the premier global event for hula, began in 1963 in Hilo, Hawaii.

It was originally conceived by Helene Hale, the then Chairwoman of the County of Hawaii, as a way to invigorate the local economy, which was suffering due to the decline of the sugar industry and recent tsunamis.

The festival was named after King David Kalākaua, known as the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts and efforts to revive Hawaiian cultural practices like hula, which missionary influences had suppressed.

The first festival was a modest affair, featuring a King Kalākaua beard look-alike contest, among other events.

Over the years, the festival struggled with funding and interest until 1968, when Dottie Thompson took over and revitalized the event, focusing on authentic Hawaiian culture and competitive hula dancing.

This shift aligned with a broader cultural resurgence known as the Hawaiian Renaissance, which helped to rekindle interest in traditional Hawaiian language, music, and arts.

In 1971, under Thompson’s guidance, the festival introduced a hula competition, which has since become its centerpiece.

This competition helped to cement the festival’s reputation as a significant cultural event, attracting top hula hālau (schools) and dancers from across the Hawaiian Islands and beyond.

Today, the Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long event that includes not only hula competitions but also parades, craft fairs, and an educational outreach that perpetuates the Hawaiian culture for future generations​.

How to Celebrate World Hula Week (Merrie Monarch Festival)

Ready to dive into the vibrant festivities of World Hula Week during the Merrie Monarch Festival? Here are some playful and quirky ways to join the fun and celebrate Hawaiian culture:

Hula Your Heart Out

Why just watch when you can dance too? Grab a skirt and sway to the rhythm! Learning a few hula moves is the highlight of your week. It’s not just fun; it’s also a fantastic way to connect with the rich Hawaiian heritage.

Shop ’til You Drop

Stroll through the Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair. You’ll find everything from exquisite handmade crafts to unique Hawaiian jewelry. It’s the perfect spot to snag a souvenir that holds the essence of the festival!

Feast on Hawaiian Treats

Indulge in some traditional Hawaiian cuisine. Whether it’s at a festival food stall or a local eatery, treat your taste buds to some poi, poke, or haupia. Eating like a local is a must!

Attend a Hula Showdown

Don’t miss the thrilling competitions! From the prestigious Miss Aloha Hula to the intense group hula performances, each evening offers something spectacular. It’s a showcase of grace, tradition, and fierce competition.

Parade in Paradise

Cap off the week by watching the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade. Experience the joy and community spirit as floats, musicians, and dancers parade down the streets of Hilo. It’s a colorful and festive affair not to be missed!

These activities are sure to give you a taste of Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha during the Merrie Monarch Festival, making your experience unforgettable​.

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