Hawaii has a rich and fascinating culture dating back hundreds of years. Unique cultural traditions such as the hula are just one of the fascinating and unique cultural heritages of this wonderful island.
Visiting any of the island today you’d be remiss if you didn’t watch a hula performance. Now hula has a deep cultural association with the islands. Mention hula to anyone on the mainland and they’ll immediately think of Hawaii,
However this was not always the case. Along with the influx of missionaries in the 1800s to the islands a suppression of Hawaiian cultural traditions went into effect. This occurred until Kind Kalakaua worked towards restoring these cultural traditions for the people of Hawaii. King Kalakaua, who ruled from 1874 until 1891, was recognized as the “patron of the arts, expecially music and dance.” BEcause of this he was called the “Merrie Monarch.”
The Merrie Monarch Festical itself didn’t start until 1963 when Helene Hale decided to create the event to help increase tourism to the islands. The festival evolved into being focused on Hawaiian cultural events and eventually the hula competition that was introduced in 1971. Although it was for women only until 1976.
The festival has evoled into becoming an opportunity for the best in the world at hula to compete on a worldwide level. Indeed if you attend the festival you are guaranteed to see the best men and women perform hula.
Beyond just the competition the festival also is important in preserving and sharing this hawaiian cultural traditions through classes and workshops opem to all.
The festival is recognized as being the second coming of hawaiian culture traditions and is attributed to helping maintain these traditions. The festival is important in helping attendees and students in gaining a first hand connection to the ancient Hawaiians of their home.
The Merrie Monarch Festival takes place each year at the Edith Kanaka’ole Multipurpose Stadium cumulvating in the three day hula competition. The festival takes place each April in Hilo and is an excellent time to visit the islands and experience the best in Hawaiian culture.