Festivals and Events on the Big Island

The Big Island is home to a wide variety of festivals and annual events. Here are some fun and exciting events and festivals that take place on Hawaii each year. To help you plan your Hawaii vacation, you can click on the menu below to skip to the month you’re interested in. Or, you can scroll through and be inspired by the Big Island’s great festivals and events.

April Events on the Big Island

LAVAMAN TRIATHLON

April 2, 2017 @ Waikoloa Beach Resort, Kohala Coast

The Lavaman Triathlon is an iconic and scenic competition that takes place annually on the Kohala Coast. Participants swim 1500 meters in Anaeho’omalu Bay, bike a 40-kilometer section of the Ironman World Championship course, and run 10 kilometers through the Waikoloa Beach Resort to the finish line on the beach! For more information, visit the Lavaman Triathlon’s website.

MERRIE MONARCH HULA FESTIVAL

April 16-22, 2017 (typically just after Easter) – Hilo

See the best of the best hula dancers gather to compete at this annual festival in Hilo! Beyond the internationally renowned competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival features non-competitive hula shows, an invitational arts fair, and a parade through the town of Hilo.

Most of the festival events are free, but you will need tickets to see the competition live. Competition tickets always sell out in December and you can’t buy them online (snail mail or phone only), but if you can snag some tickets you will be in for a memorable weekend! If not, you can watch on television or attend the free hula demonstrations instead. For more information about the festival and an event schedule, visit the Merrie Monarch Festival’s website.

BIG ISLAND CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL

April 28-29, 2017 @ the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Kohala

Chocolate-lovers will love this festival showcasing cacao grown in Hawaii! The Big Island Chocolate Festival features chocolate tastings, demonstrations, and culinary competitions! Past festivals have included seminars on chocolate farming and production, as well as a tour of a cacao plantation and chocolate factory! For more information, see the Big Island Chocolate Festival’s website.


For more events happening on the Big Island in April, see konaweb.com.

May Events on the Big Island

BIG ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL

Memorial Day weekend @ The Fairmont Orchid & The Shops at Mauna Lani

See indie and Hawaiian films under the stars at the Shops at Mauna Lani and the Fairmont Orchid! The Big Island Film Festival highlights great films that tell a story. This intimate festival also features receptions that provide opportunities for attendees to meet indie filmmakers from Hawaii and around the world. Take the kids to see a movie under the stars at the free family film screenings in the Shops at Mauna Lani! To learn more about the Big Island Film Festival, visit their website.

June Events on the Big Island

IRONMAN 70.3

June 3, 2017 on the Kohala Coast

The Ironman 70.3 competition (a.k.a. Half-Ironman) on the Kohala Coast is one of the most scenic races you will find. Competitors get the chance to swim in the open waters off Hapuna Beach, cycle on part of the World Championship’s course, and run through Mauna Lani – the finish line is at the Fairmont Orchid. This race is a qualifier for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Tennessee. For more information about the race, please visit the event’s website.

BIG ISLAND JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL

Dates TBA, 2017 @ Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Enjoy amazing music by the ocean at the Big Island Jazz and Blues Festival! This event features legendary and Grammy Award winning musicians performing jazz and blues beside the ocean at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. If you are a jazz or blues lover you won’t want to miss this! For more information, visit the festival’s website.

KAMEHAMEHA DAY CELEBRATIONS

June 11, 2017 in North Kohala, Kona, and Hilo

Kamehameha Day is a state holiday with some really impressive celebrations on the Big Island – the home of King Kamehameha the Great, who conquered and united all of the Hawaiian Islands into one Kingdom in 1795. If you are in North Kohala, you can see the statue of King Kamehameha decked out in 25-foot floral leis. This is a great day to see a parade with hula groups and traditional Pa’u riders – women on horseback dressed in colorful traditional dresses and draped with flowers – representing each of the Hawaiian Islands. There are also community festivals with live music, hula and traditional craft demonstrations, delicious food, and craft vendors.

North Kohala Kamehameha Day CelebrationHawi & Kapa’au (birthplace of King Kamehameha I)

See the very special Kamehameha Day Celebrations in King Kamehameha’s birth place! In the morning, the statue of King Kamehameha is adorned with 25-foot floral leis. After this, there is an amazing floral parade on the highway from Hawi to Kapa’au with Pa’u Riders, floats, and dancers. The parade ends in Kamehameha Park where festivities continue all afternoon with food vendors, a craft market,  Hula dancers, live music, and educational demonstrations. For more information about the festival, see their website.

Kamehameha Day Parade & Free Concert  – Kailua-Kona

Kona’s Kamehameha Day Celebrations feature a colorful floral parade through Kona’s historic Kailua Village with flowers, hula groups, Pa’u riders, and marching bands. Afterwards, there is a Music & Art Festival on the grounds at the Hulihe’e Palace, with a Free Concert featuring some great Hawaiian music artists. For more information about the festival, see their website.

Kamehameha Festival Hilo

The Kamehameha Day celebrations in Hilo take place on Mokuola (a.k.a. Coconut Island) in Hilo Bay. The Kamehameha Festival features Hawaiian musicians & stunning hula performances. Enjoy delicious food and visit the arts & crafts fair. For more information, please see the festival’s website.

KONA MARATHON, HALF-MARATHON, 10K, 5K Races

June 25, 2017 @ Waikoloa Beach Resort

Runners travel from all over the world to participate in the Kona Marathon! Register to join or just watch as around 2,000 participants run for prizes and fundraise for charity.  The Kona Marathon takes place at the Waikoloa Beach Resort and the finish line is at the Queens’ Marketplace. For more information and registration, visit the Kona Marathon website.


For more events happening on the Big Island in June, see konaweb.com.

July Events on the Big Island

TURTLE INDEPENDENCE DAY

July 4, 2017 @ Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows

Each year, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel receives juvenile Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles from an aquarium on Oahu as part of a conservation program. These young turtles live in the hotel’s saltwater ponds until they are large enough to be released into the wild. Raising the young turtles in captivity helps to keep them from being eaten when they are very small and contributes to sea turtle conservation.

Every year on July 4th, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel holds an event to celebrate the release of these sea turtles into the ocean. In addition to watching the turtle release, the event features a hula performance by a local hula halau (group), an educational display with information about Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, and food trucks. Here is the official poster from the 2016 event.

PARKER RANCH JULY 4TH RODEO & HORSE RACES

July 4, 2017 @ Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena, Waimea

For your 4th of July celebrations, you can watch as the Big Island’s ranchers participate in fun and exhilarating horse races and rodeo events. At this family friendly event, kids can go for a pony ride or practice roping. For more information about this and other rodeo events at the ranch, visit the Parker Ranch website.


For more events happening on the Big Island in July, see konaweb.com.

August Events on the Big Island

ANNUAL MANGO FESTIVAL

August TBA, 2016 @ Sheraton Kona Keauhou Resort & Spa, Kona

Come to the Mango Festival in Kona to sample fresh delicious mango varieties grown right here on the Big Island! This free community event features hula, music, arts and crafts, plus plenty of mangolicious treats and vegan delicacies. If you’re interested in how mangoes are grown, there are also discussions and demonstrations on tree varieties, grafting, and horticulture. This event is organized by Hawaiian Wellness – visit their blog for more information!

ANNUAL HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK CULTURAL FESTIVAL AND BIOBLITZ

August TBA, 2017 @ Kilauea Visitor Center Festival Grounds, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This free, family-friendly event features shows and educational demonstrations on authentic Hawaiian cultural practices and land stewardship. Try making a lei or learning other Hawaiian traditional crafts. There will also be live music and hula performances!

You and the kids can be citizen scientists! Take part in the Bioblitz to learn about the biodiversity found on lava fields and in Kilauea’s unique rainforests, while helping scientists gather data to better understand, conserve, and steward the ecosystems of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

For more information about this annual festival, visit the 2016 event page. Can’t make it but want to know more about Volcanoes National Park? Check out our Volcanoes webpage for things to do in and around the park!

5TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF ALOHA

August TBA, 2016 @ Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

This free, family-friendly festival features live Hawaiian music, hula performances, and arts & crafts vendors.Try some huli huli pig, fresh poke, and other Hawaiian specialties by chefs from the Hapuna Beach Prince and Mauna Kea Beach hotels. Hosted at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Kohala Coast, you can enjoy Hawaii’s arts and music right by the beach.  For more information about this and other events at the Hapuna Prince, visit the hotel’s event page.

GREAT WAIKOLOA CANOE RACE

August TBA, 2017 @ Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-Bay), Waikoloa

Come down to the beach on Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-Bay) to watch the Great Waikoloa Canoe Race. The race features dozens of outrigger canoe teams, including both local and international teams. Check out the Waikoloa Canoe Club’s website for more information.


For more events happening on the Big Island in August, see konaweb.com.

September Events on the Big Island

Queen Lili'uokalani Outrigger Canoe Race 2016

QUEEN LILIUOKALANI LONG DISTANCE OUTRIGGER CANOE RACES

Labor Day Long Weekend, 2017 @ Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club, Kona

Kona is home to the world’s largest long distance canoe race, hosted by one of the oldest canoe clubs in Hawaii – Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club. Each year, over 2,000 outrigger canoe paddlers compete in the Queen Liliuokalani races. The main event is the long-distance 18-mile outrigger canoe race, but there are also sprint relay races and a stand-up paddleboard race. This week’s events also include a Historic Kailua Village Cultural Walk, Native Artist Fair, Paddling Talk Story, and Torchlight Parade. To learn more about the races and fun events, check out Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club’s event pages.

P.S. Check out our blog post on the 2016 Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Races!

“TASTE OF THE HAWAIIAN RANGE” FESTIVAL

TBA 2017 @ Hilton Waikoloa Village

This evening culinary festival offers a variety of delicious culinary treats and adventures. Here, Hawaii chefs prepare pasture-raised beef in every possible cut for attendees to sample. Other dishes include pork, lamb, goat, and wild boar, as well as fresh island-grown fruits and vegetables. The festival also features booths and exhibits on local agriculture in Hawaii, with opportunities to meet ranchers and farmers. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event’s website.

PANIOLO PARADE AND HO’OLAULE’A

TBA 2017 in Waimea

This is a great family-friendly event that takes place annually in Waimea. Situated in the middle of a huge ranching area and the home of the Hawaiian cowboy (or paniolo), Waimea’s annual Paniolo Parade celebrates the region’s ranching heritage and Hawaiian traditions. The parade features colorful displays by traditional Pa’u riders – princesses on horseback decorated with flowers representing each of the Hawaiian Islands. The parade also includes the Royal Court dressed in ancient Hawaiian regalia, walking and riding units representing local organizations and businesses, and bands. The parade goes from “Church Row” to Waimea Park, where the a Ho’olaule’a (Art, Craft & Food Fair) takes place for the rest of the afternoon with live music and hula as well as food and art vendors. See the event’s website for more details. The Paniolo Parade is part of the Hawaii Island Festival.


For more events happening on the Big Island in September, see konaweb.com.

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