2024 Merrie Monarch Festival: A Celebration of the Art of Hula and Hawaiian Culture – Big Island, March 31 – April 6

by | Mar 7, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of the Merrie Monarch Festival/Bruce Omori

Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant and mesmerizing world of Hawaiian culture at the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival.

Starting Easter Sunday, March 31-April 6, in Hilo, Hawai’i Island’s charming town, this weeklong celebration marks its 61st anniversary by showcasing Hawaii’s most talented hula performers and traditions through exciting competitions and events.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned attendee, we’ll guide you through what to expect during this unforgettable occasion while sharing essential tips on experiencing the best of Hilo.

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This post offers general information only and should not be considered legal, authoritative advice. It aims to provide travelers with knowledge for safe and enjoyable outdoor activities but cannot replace individual swimming abilities, physical fitness, experience, or local up-to-date knowledge. Be aware that marine activities carry risks, and participants must assess weather, sea conditions, and hazards beforehand. Adhere to local laws and regulations.

The Rich History of the Merrie Monarch Festival & Hula Competition

merrie monarch festival

Photo: Courtesy of the Merrie Monarch Festival/Bruce Omori

The Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, named in honor of the last king of the Kingdom of Hawaii, King David Kalākaua, has evolved into a world-renowned event that celebrates Hawaiian culture and perpetuates traditional hula dance.

One of the highlights of the Merrie Monarch Festival is the parade through Hilo town, known as the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade, during the week-long celebration.

This vibrant and colorful procession brings the town of Hilo to life as it winds through the streets. It features beautifully adorned floats, paʻu riders on horseback, and marching bands.

The parade also honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua, the “Merrie Monarch,” with a display of the festival’s royal court dressed in traditional attire, embodying the elegance and grace of Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage.

The Evolution of the Festival and its Cultural Importance

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a celebration held annually in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii and has evolved tremendously since its inception in 1963.

Initially created to boost tourism and celebrate Hawaiian culture, the event quickly gained traction as a leading hula competition.

As such, the Merrie Monarch Festival plays a pivotal role in fostering cultural appreciation amongst both local residents and visitors from around the world by showcasing traditional chants (oli) and dances (hula kahiko) alongside their more modern counterparts (hula ‘auana).

merrie monarch festival shopping

Photo: Courtesy Honolulu Civil Beat

The Festival’s Impact on Hawaiian Culture and the Community

The Merrie Monarch Festival has significantly preserved and promoted Hawaiian heritage and culture over the years. As one of the most prestigious hula competitions, it attracts top hālau hula (hula schools) from across Hawai’i Nei and beyond to showcase their talent on this esteemed platform.

By showcasing ancient kahiko-style dances alongside modern ʻauana-style performances, the festival educates attendees about the depth of Hawaiian culture and encourages them to engage with traditional practices.

Moreover, the vibrant atmosphere that characterizes Hilo during Merrie Monarch Week undeniably enhances community spirit. The Big Island comes alive as residents join travelers from around the globe to celebrate this beloved annual event together.

Local businesses benefit immensely from increased visitors, while artisans can share their crafts at various art fairs in downtown Hilo.

Through these collective efforts, Merrie Monarch Festival continues its vital work of perpetuating Hawaiian traditions for generations to come.

Both participants and spectators are inspired by what they witness here each year—the beauty of authentic cultural expression mixed with contemporary creativity leaves a lasting impression on everyone involved.

What to Expect at the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival

merrie monarch festival hilo arts

Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell / Crussell@StarAdvertiser.com

At the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival, visitors can expect to witness dazzling hula performances by top-notch dancers, immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture at art and craft fairs, and shop for souvenirs at the festival’s official store – read on to learn more!

Dates and Location of the Festival

Mark your calendars, as the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival is set to take place from March 31 – April 6 on Hawaiʻi Island.

As you prepare for this memorable experience, keep in mind that Hilo offers a wide array of things to explore and natural wonders beyond the festival grounds. Discover enchanting parks such as Liliʻuokalani Gardens or hike through lush rainforests nearby Akaka Falls State Park.

Highlight Performances and Events Featuring Top Hula Performers

Here are some of the highlight performances and events featuring top hula performers at the festival:

1. Miss Aloha Hula competition: This highly competitive hula event showcases some of Hawai’i’s best solo hula dancers.

2. Group hula competitions: Various group hula competitions will be held throughout the week, where talented groups from across the islands will compete for coveted titles.

3. World Hula Week: This global celebration of hula features workshops, seminars, and performances by some of the world’s most renowned hula dancers and instructors.

4. Festival Shop: Visitors can shop for authentic Hawaiian crafts and souvenirs at the festival shop, which features items created by local artisans.

These are just a few exciting performances and events visitors can look forward to at the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival. Come witness, these amazing displays of talent and honor the spirit of aloha that is so integral to Hawaiian culture!

World Hula Week and Festival Shop

World Hula Week is a festive week of parades, Hawaiian art fairs, and performances during the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival. This annual celebration honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua and perpetuates Hawaiian traditions while showcasing hula as an art form.

It’s a perfect opportunity to take home some beautiful souvenirs from your visit to Hawaii while experiencing local culture at its finest.

Showcasing Local Talent at Art and Craft Fairs

Art and craft fairs are integral to the Merrie Monarch Festival, featuring talented artisans from across Hawaii. These fairs offer a unique opportunity to experience Hawaiian arts and crafts firsthand, with vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to traditional wood carvings.

One of the most famous art fairs is held at the Edith Kanakaʻole Multi-Purpose Stadium in Hilo. You’ll find dozens of artisan stalls selling various goods, including clothing, paintings, and ceramics.

Another great feature of these art fairs is that they often showcase local talent through exhibitions and performances. From hula dancers to musicians, there’s something for everyone at this celebration of Hawai’i’s rich culture.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Experience in Hilo

Planning Your Itinerary to Explore Hilo and Surrounding Areas

Planning your itinerary is essential to make the most of your trip to Hilo during the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival. Here are some tips for exploring Hilo and surrounding areas:

1. Visit the Wailuku River State Park to see the awe-inspiring Rainbow Falls.

2. Take a hike through the lush rainforest trails of ‘Akaka Falls State Park and witness two stunning waterfalls.

3. Plan a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and explore Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

4. Head to Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, home to over 60 species of exotic animals.

6. Discover Hawaiian history at the Lyman Museum & Mission House or immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage at the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

7. Explore Onomea Bay Scenic Drive, a picturesque stretch of road with stunning ocean views and lush vegetation.

Remember to respect local culture and traditions while exploring Hilo during your trip to Merrie Monarch Festival. Prepare for possible rain by packing appropriate clothing, footwear, and travel essentials before embarking on your adventure!

RELATED: Traveling to Hawai’i Island, take the Pono Pledge

Respecting Cultural Etiquette and Cultural Sensitivity

It is essential to respect Native Hawaiian culture and traditions while attending the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival. Visitors should take the time to learn about proper cultural etiquette and sensitivity before attending.

Additionally, certain practices or clothing may be considered inappropriate or offensive, such as wearing a lei made with non-native flowers or taking flash photography during performances.

By being mindful of cultural sensitivities and following respectful behaviors, visitors can show appreciation for Hawaii’s rich history and traditions while enjoying the festival experience.

Embrace the Spirit of Aloha at the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival

Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Hawaii at the 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival! This week-long event is the perfect opportunity to experience the beauty of hula and learn about Hawaiian traditions.

With top performances from skilled hula dancers, craft fairs featuring local artisans, and a celebration of Hawaiian heritage, this festival promises to be an unforgettable experience.

Ensure you don’t miss out on any action by watching online streams from March 31 – April 6, 2024.


1. When is Merrie Monarch 2024?

The 2024 Merrie Monarch Festival is scheduled from Sunday, March 31st to Saturday, April 6th, 2024. Be sure to mark your calendar and celebrate Hawaiian culture and hula during this exciting week-long event. Also, check out some of the other incredible things to do in Hilo.

2. Where is the Merrie Monarch Festival Held?

The Merrie Monarch Festival is held annually in the Big Island’s town of Hilo, a charming town on Hawaii’s Big Island, at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium. This picturesque setting provides the perfect backdrop for a week-long celebration of Hawaiian culture, traditions, and the art of hula.

3. When Was the First Merrie Monarch Festival?

The first Merrie Monarch Festival took place in 1963. Since its inception, the festival has become a premier event celebrating Hawaiian culture, traditions, and the beautiful art of hula.

4. What time is the Merrie Monarch parade?

The Merrie Monarch parade is on Saturday at 10:30am, and serves as a showcase for Hawaiian culture and traditions, inviting attendees to participate in the lively festivities.

5. What is the age requirement for Merrie Monarch?

Hula schools are permitted to nominate a single unmarried contestant, aged 18 to 25, to participate in the competition. The contestants are required to perform both a hula kahiko and hula ‘auana. Within the 7-minute timeframe for kahiko, participants must execute an oli, ka’i, mele, and ho’i.

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.