2020 Merrie Monarch Schedule

Hilo Hawaii Hula Festival

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The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival is an international Hula competition in Hilo, Hawaii. The festival starts with the Ho'olaule'a on Easter Sunday at the Civic Auditorium and ends with a parade through Hilo town and final evening competition on Saturday.

Hula and Hawaiian events are held around Hilo town during the week of the festival. Below are some links to previous Merrie Monarch festivals.

Ho'olaule'a (Music Festival) at the Hilo Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. The music festival is a celebration of hula and Hawaaian chants performed by local Halaus and students. The event has food, drinks, snacks for sale as well as the first opportunity to buy the official T-shirts and the program guide. Here are videos and photos of previous Ho'oaule'a events during Merrie Monarch week 2014 and 2013 and 2012 and 2011 and 2010 and 2009 and 2008.

Ho'ike Night Free exhibition : Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium
This evening event is performed in the same statium as the Merrie Monarch Hula competitions, with the same pagentry, and it is free. So those that are unable to get a ticket to the evening competitions can still get the thrilling experience by attending the Ho'ike. Our first year to the Ho'ike we got in line at 5PM and were very surprised to find that the line already extended from the Stadium all the way to the Civic Auditorium. We missed the entrance of the Royal Court and the Pule (since they close the gates during that time) and finally got a seat behind the stage which limited our view of the dances. The next year we got in line at 2:30PM with water, food, lawn chairs, crossword puzzles and an umbrella (because it was raining). Being in line for that long you become friends with the many visitors and locals with shared enthusiasm for the event and hula. Here are some pictures and movies from previous Ho'ike in 2009 and 2008 to get an idea of what the event is like.

Merrie Monarch Royal Parade : starting at 10:30AM in downtown Hilo. Here are some pictures from previous Parades in 2009 and 2008 to get an idea of what it is like.


If you are new to Hula, you need some Hawaiian language to help understand and appreciate hula and the cultural aspects of the dance. Here is a list of words used commonly during the Merrie Monarch festival.

Aloha - is used to say hello and goodbye and desribes a kind of love or respect for something or someone.
'Auana - Modern Hawaiian style
Halau - With regard to hula, this means a Hula group or school usually under the direction of Kumu. It also means long house for canoes.
Haole - used to refer to white people
Hapa - means half and is used to describe people's race (Hapa Hawaiian), food, music or anything else that is influenced by ethnicity
Hapa Haole Songs - Hawaiian songs in English
Ho'i - Exit which is often accompanied by song or chant
Ho'opa'a - Chanters
Heiau - Hawaiian platform Temple. Heiau can be visited in National and State parks around Hawaii island
Hula Kahiko - Hula composed prior to 1893 and does not include modern musical instruments. Types of Hula Kahiko include ‘āla’apapa, ha’a, ‘olapa, and others. Hula is performed with chants accompanied by sticks and gourd drums and performed in malo, or loincloth, and pā’ū, or wrapped skirt, and clothing made of grass and flowers.
Hula 'Auana - Modern style Hula accompanied with songs in Hawaiian and modern musical instruments and performed in colorful dresses (mumus) and patterened shirts
Huli - The movement of turning - in a canoe it means to flip over.
Ipuheke - Gourd instrument without a top used as a drum during Kahiko Hula
Kahiko - Ancient Hawaiian style
Ka'i - Entrance which is often accompanied by song or chant
Kane - Man and Men
Keiki - Child or Children
Kumu - Teacher that has mastery of Hula or some Hawaiian art form
Kupea - Anklets worn by male dancers
Kupuna - Elderly person or people
Mele - Hawaiian song and poetic language
Merrie Monarch - The Merrie Monarch refers to  King David Kalākaua who reigned over the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1874 until his death in 1891. He was a patron of the arts and is given credit for revitalizing Hula in Hawaii.
'Olapa - Dancers
Oli - Chant
Pau - Finished, no more: "Food all Pau"
Pahu - Drum
Pule - Prayer given in Hawaiian at the begining of most events
'Uli'uli - Gourd instrument filled with seeds and topped with colorful flowers used by dancers in hula
Wahine - Woman and Women


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