Where Hula Lives

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Merrie Monarch Festival
Imagine an annual celebration of Hawaiian culture and art so large that it takes a weeklong festival to capture its spirit. The Merrie Monarch Festival, which began in Hilo in 1963, commemorates the legacy inspired by King David Kalakaua’s insistence on preserving Native Hawaii traditions, language and arts. When the festival first began, events included a King Kalakaua beard look-alike contest, a barbershop quartet contest, a relay race, a re-creation of King Kalakaua’s coronation and even a Holoku Ball. Now, people come from all over the world to enjoy and compete in the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival’s three-day hula competition.

The Grand Naniloa Hotel is the proud host hotel for this esteemed festival. As a guest at Merrie Monarch you’ll not only find performances, but also enjoy art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations and a parade that emphasizes the cultures of Hawaii. Many halau hula (meaning “schools” in Hawaiian), including some from the U.S. mainland and some international performers, attend the festival to participate in exhibitions and competitions. These schools stay at the Grand Naniloa Hotel and perform on the hotel’s seaside lawns during this festival.

Hula Halau Ke ‘Olu Makani ‘O Mauna Loa
Hula Halau Ke ‘Olu Makani ‘O Mauna Loa of the Kilauea-Volcano area on Hawai’i Island was founded in 1990 under the direction of Kumu Hula Meleana Manuel. Kumu Meleana received her ‘uniki rights in 2007 through Master Kumu Hula and Merrie Monarch Festival co-founder, Uncle George Na’ope. Over the years, Kumu Meleana and her halau have participated in many competitions, festivals, and events throughout the US and Japan. With a mission to perpetuate Hawaiian culture, protocol, and history through song and dance, the halau instills the confidence, respect, and responsibility within students to be leaders in their communities.

On Monday evenings, guests are welcomed to watch the halau during their weekly hula practice here on the Grand Naniloa hotel grounds.