2008 Merrie Monarch Review

Hilo, Hawaii





2008 MERRIE MONARCH (March 30- April 5)

Merrie Monarch is the olympics of Hula, an international event that brings in Hula groups from all over the world to Hilo. The whole town works together to make the event a success and bring the feeling of hula, a special kind of warmth and love to the visiting dancers, musicians, and tourists. It is an enhanting time to be in Hilo and one way to begin to understand the Hawaii culture and how hard the Hawaiians are working to keep it alive.

This was our first Merrie Monarch. Though we didn't have tickets to the two main hula competitions we were able to watch them live on TV. The week long activities were beyond my wildest imagination. They were fun and enchanting. We took pictures and videos of every event we could get to.

More photos and videos of Merrie Monarch week are availalble on these pages:
Ho'oalaulea Hula Demonstration Event
Hula demonstrations around Hilo
Merrie Monarch Ho'ike Hula Night
Merrie Monarch parade

Hula is the most amazing form of dance; I felt drawn in rather than most dance where I feel a great distance away from the art and form of the dance. The perfomers are young and old, drawn together by a shared love of the culture and sense of belongingness that they then communicate to the crowd participating by watching. The hula competition is divided into traditional chant hula and the more known mele hula with accompanying muscians. The competition is between groups, not individuals, that are associated with hula schools (Halau) with a guiding teacher (kumu). The men compete separately from the women in each category. Preparation for the competition is intense requiring practice to stay in perfect synchronizattion, mastery of the Hawaiian language and lei making which each dancer makes themselves to adorn their bodies. The choice of chants and mele is strictly controlled as well as the dance moves in order to keep the traditions alive. Points are deducted for leis that fall off and lack of synchronization in dance and song. The dedication and practice required by each dancer to participate, much less win a Merrie Monarch competition is huge.

If you ever get a chance to be in Hilo for Merrie Monarch, don't pass on the opportunity. Hotel roomsl have to be reserved far in advance, because hula lovers from around the world come to Hilo to be a part of the amazing event. Below are links to photos and films taken at the events we were able to attend

Below is a description of the Merrie Monarch events every day during the 2008 season.

Sun March 30: Ho'olaulea (music festival) at the Hilo Afook-Chinen Civic Center:
More Ho'oalaulea Photos and Videos
Hula in Hilo Hawaii March 2008

Mon March 31 to Fri April 5 Hula demonstrations at Noon to 2PM at hotels on Banyon Drive:
More hula demonstration Photos and Videos
Hula by Hawaii Community College in Hilo

Wed April 2 Ho'ike Night Free exhibition at the Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium
More Merrie Monarch Ho'ike Photos and Videos
Ho'ike Crowd in Hilo April 2008

Starting Thu April 3 Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts and Crafts Fair at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium
Merrie Monarch Invitational Crafts Fair 2008

Merrie Monarch Arts Fair Hilo

Merrie Monarch Arts Fair Hilo

Merrie Monarch Arts Fair Hilo

Merrie Monarch Arts Fair Hilo

Merrie Monarch Arts Fair Hilo

Fri April 4:

Group Hula Kahiko Competition, Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium and televised by KITV. The videos are available on KITV's web page.

Here are two practice session videos taped in the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel of the Halau na lei kaumaka o uka Wahine Kahiko team from Maui.

I love the drums.

Sat April 5:

Merrie Monarch Royal Parade in downtown Hilo
Here are pictures and videos of the Merrie Monarch parade.
Merrie Monarch Parade in Hilo 2008

The 3rd annual He Launa Aloha No Ka Mo‘i Kalakaua at Kalakaua Park

POSH festival Hilo

POSH Festival Hilo

POSH festival weaving demonstration


Group Hula 'Auana Competition, Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium and televised on KITV


Merrie Monarch sites:

Copyright 2008