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Unique Paradise

Special Features
Unique Paradise

Say ‘Aloha’ to some of the most unique cultural festivals celebrated in Hawaii

While you may not need more reasons to visit Hawaii beyond its natural beauty and pristine beaches, the islands also celebrate unique cultural events to make any vacation truly memorable. The melting pot of cultures in the Aloha State make Hawaii different than any other place on earth. Planning your visit around one of these five festivals from March through July will make your trip even more special.

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Honolulu Festival

The Honolulu Festival (March 8-10) celebrates the mutual understanding, economic cooperation and ethnic harmony between the Hawaiian people and the Pacific Rim.

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Enjoy dance performances and traditional art demonstrations from Japan, Australia, Tahiti, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and Hawaii. The festival finale is a spectacular parade. The three-day fest is free and open to the public.

Where to stay: The Sheraton Waikiki; The Royal Hawaiian; Westin Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Princess Kaiulani; Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; The Laylow, Autograph Collection; Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach

Merrie Monarch Festival

The premier hula festival (April 25-27) in the world, the Merrie Monarch is dedicated to the memory of arts patron King David Kalakaua (1836-1891), who famously said: “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.” In addition to the Hawaiian arts fair, music, craft demonstrations, hula shows and grand parade, the festival culminates in an amazing hula competition.

Where to stay: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel; Westin Hapuna Beach Resort; Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

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East Maui Taro Festival

Named for the most revered plant in Hawaiian culture (known in Hawaiian as ‘Kalo’), this festival (April 13) celebrates taro, believed to have the greatest life force of all foods, and which represents the origin of the Hawaiian people. The festival features a farmer’s market, hula dancing, arts and crafts, plus an array of traditional cultural demonstrations such as poi pounding and lauhala weaving.

Where to stay: Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui; Residence Inn – Maui Wailea; Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport

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May Day

The popular phrase, ‘May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii’, celebrates the most colourful time of year on the islands. While the special day (May 1) is enjoyed statewide, the largest festivities are held on Oahu. Celebrations include lei-making and giving, plus, of course, hula dancing. Schools from preschool to high school hold special programmes featuring ‘May Day Courts’, with their own princesses and princes representing each island.

Where to stay: Sheraton Waikiki; The Royal Hawaiian; Westin Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Princess Kaiulani; Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; The Laylow, Autograph Collection; Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach

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Koloa Plantation Days Festival

The Koloa Plantation Days festival, held on Kauai in the month of July, celebrates the ethnic groups that came to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations (and the Hawaiians who welcomed them) with a parade, craft and food booths, a rodeo, ukulele contest and family fun run during this 10-day festival.

Where to stay: Sheraton Kauai Resort; Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection; Kauai Marriott Resort

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Photos © iStock by Getty Images

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