Whether it’s hula, music, coffee, or fishing that you love, Hawaiʻi Island has got a great event for you to enjoy. The big festivals all happen in either Hilo or Kona, since those are the main population centers. Plan a truly memorable vacation around one of these great festivals! find about the Big Island Hawaii events below.
Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament – September
You may not know this, but the Billfish Tournament is what put the sleepy fishing village of Kailua-Kona on the map back in the day. Now in its 58th year, the tournament attracts teams of marlin fishermen from all around the globe, along with lots of sightseers who come to enjoy the party. It’s a five-day fishing extravaganza!
Merrie Monarch Festival – March/April
Named for King Kalākaua, the “Merrie Monarch” who helped revive the tradition of hula, Merrie Monarch is the world’s largest hula gathering. Halau (hula schools) from around the state (and some from overseas) come to showcase their very best dancing, choreography, and beautiful costumes. Merrie Monarch is so popular that you need to secure tickets many months in advance, though if you happen to be here on the festival’s first night, it’s a hoʻike (exhibition) instead of a competition, and admission is first-come, first-served (prepare to wait a minimum of several hours in line). Even if you don’t plan to watch the show, however, it’s worth a visit to Hilo during this busy week, as the town is filled with craft fairs and artists from all around the state selling their work.
Ironman Triathlon – October
The world-famous Ironman Triathlon is a grueling contest of endurance. It’s also a great chance for a party (for everyone who’s not competing!). International visitors pour into Kona during this week; it’s a prime opportunity for people-watching (and trying to guess what the heck language they’re speaking!). Do keep in mind that portions of the highway are closed on race day, so driving most anywhere on the Kona coast is out.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival – November
Hawaiʻi Island’s famous cup of joe takes center stage during this, Hawaiʻi’s oldest food festival. Over the course of ten days, enjoy parades, coffee and food tastings, hands-on cultural demonstrations, farm and coffee mill tours, coffee art exhibitions, and the Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant.
KWXX Hilo Hoʻolauleʻa – September
Hilo’s biggest block party, this family-friendly music event is put on by a Hawaiian music radio station. It’s a huge bash, with both indoor and outdoor stages, and a long list of entertainers performing. Over 10,000 people attend annually, so if you’re looking for truly local entertainment on Hawaiʻi Island, then come and be one of them!
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