• Photos Courtesy of Aloha Festivals
  • Photos Courtesy of Aloha Festivals
  • Photos Courtesy of Aloha Festivals

Celebrate Hawaiian Culture at the Aloha Festival

The Aloha Festival is the largest celebration of Hawaiian culture in the country. This Honolulu festival dates back to 1946 when Aloha Week started as a series of Hawaiian celebrations of music, dance, and history. Since then it’s grown into one of the most anticipated festivals in Hawaii.

The theme for this year’s Aloha Festival 2016 is Hāli‘a Aloha, meaning treasured memories. The festival kicks off on Friday, September 9 when the Royal Court is introduced. “People are chosen as the King, Queen, Prince and Princess, to represent Hawaiian culture and customs,” says Frank Hernandez, Head Concierge at Halekulani. “Then the festival is declared officially open.”

The annual Waikiki Hoolaulea is on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. “The Hoolaulea is like a big block party. There’s music, dancing and food all along Kalakaua Avenue,” Frank says. “If guests like a certain style of music, we can help them plan where to go. There’s a beer garden too, for guests who want to sample local craft beer.”

The 70th annual Floral Parade is on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. at Ala Moana Park and moves through Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park.

The parade is a vibrant procession of Pa’u horseback riders, floats covered with Hawaiian flowers, Hawaiian music, hula schools and marching bands. The Pa’u riders bring a distinct and defining aspect to the parade. Pa’u is Hawaiian for skirt. The pa’u, which is made of about 12 yards of satin, was originally worn to protect a woman’s legs and clothing as she rode. In the parade, there are eight pa'u riding units that represent each island, their colors, and flower. For example, Oahu has the Ilima flower and its color is yellow, while Maui has the lokelani and its color is pink. Each pa’u group has a lead page, two attendants and three escorts. Frank was part of the parade a few years ago. “I knew how to horseback ride, so I was asked to be one of the men escorting the Pa’u Princesses. It was such a great opportunity, I didn’t want to pass it up,” he says.

The Floral Parade is a great way to experience the Aloha Festival. Honolulu comes to life with the celebrations. “We advise our guests to find a place along the parade route early,” Frank says. It’s one of the most popular events on our island, and the Concierge desk will be happy to help you plan your time at this year’s festival.