If you’re planning some time in the Hawaiian Islands for your meeting or incentive group, encourage attendees to try something brand new to them or take part in a unique adventure only possible in Hawaiʻi. Experience the food, arts and history of the multitude of cultures that call the Islands home. Participate in outdoor or indoor activities unique to each of the islands, their towns and their residents. Or simply seek out one (or more) of Hawaiʻi’s many great festivals and events happening throughout the year. Need a few suggestions? Read on.
- Waikiki Spam Jam Festival (April) – This annual street festival celebrates Hawaiʻi’s longtime appreciation of Spam and everything culinary that can be created with the canned pink luncheon meat. The all-ages-friendly Waikīkī event features local restaurants and chefs offering unique and creative Spam dishes, as well as entertainment stages, works for sale from Hawaiʻi artisans and, of course, lots of Spam eats and paraphernalia for purchase. Proceeds raised benefit the nonprofit Hawaii Foodbank. spamjamhawaii.com
- Prince Lot Hula Festival (July) – Named in honor of Lot Kupuāiwa, who reigned as Hawaiʻi monarch Kamehameha V, this community festival at downtown Honolulu’s ʻIolani Palace brings together hālau hula (hula schools) from communities throughout the Islands for two days of hula performances. The festival also includes Hawaiian cultural demonstrations, local foods, traditional games, lomilomi massages, and arts and crafts, including lauhala (pandanus leaf) weaving, and kapa (bark) and ipu (gourd drum) making. www.moanaluagardensfoundation.org
- Aloha Festivals (September) – Annually celebrating the diverse traditions of Hawaiʻi’s multiple cultures – and especially, the Islands’ indigenous Hawaiian culture – through music, dance, food, arts and history, Aloha Festivals is packed with pageantry, parades, concerts and family activities. Its biggest events include a multi-block Waikīkī hoʻolauleʻa (celebration) and colorful floral parade. www.alohafestivals.com
- Prince Kuhio Day Celebration (March) – The Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration annually honors the life of turn-of-the-20th-century Hawaiʻi Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole and his legacy as a leader and advocate for Native Hawaiians, and founder of local government systems still in place in modern Hawaiʻi. Attendees of the annual celebration at Kauaʻi’s Anahola Beach Park are welcome to participate in a day of fun-filled activities, hula and live music, educational and cultural exhibits, and food and craft booths. www.princekuhiodaycelebration.com
- Kōloa Plantation Days (July) – Held in the Kauaʻi district where Hawaiʻi’s first sugar plantation and mill were founded in 1835, Kōloa Plantation Days offers a lively, family-oriented schedule of events celebrating the Kōloa district’s rich agricultural history and the diverse multicultural traditions of its residents. The 10-day event features everything from sports contests and a town celebration day, to nature hikes, movies in the park, a rodeo and a parade through main street Kōloa. www.koloaplantationdays.com
- Celebration of the Arts (March/April) – Held annually at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua resort, Celebration of the Arts is a participatory Hawaiian arts and cultural festival celebrating and discussing the past, present and future of the culture. The festival welcomes residents and visitors to experience and learn about Hawaiian culture through interactions and interactive activities with artisans, cultural practitioners, thought leaders, filmmakers, educators and entertainers in a setting of open discussion. www.kapaluacelebrationofthearts.com
- East Maui Taro Festival (April) – This annual event in the east Maui community of Hāna offers one of the single best places to taste a variety of ʻono (delicious) eats showcasing taro. Celebrating the multiple uses of the staple food source of the Native Hawaiian diet, as well the agricultural bounty of the island’s east side, the festival offers attendees opportunities to participate in taro-pounding demonstrations, learn all things taro-related, sample delicious locally-sourced dishes, and catch hula performances, live music and other cultural activities. www.tarofestival.org
- Maui Film Festival (June) – Equal parts film and food fest, this star-studded series of events pairs grazing dinners featuring cuisine from the island’s top chefs with screenings of great films from around the world at gatherings in the Wailea resort area and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Events include the Taste of Summer Opening Party, Taste of Wailea grazing dinner, and Celestial Cinema – the last of these featuring under-the-stars film screenings on the Wailea Golf Course. The five-day festival schedule also includes film premieres, gala parties, celebrity appearances, and lots of live entertainment, music and dance. www.mauifilmfestival.com
ISLAND OF HAWAIʻI
- Panaʻewa Stampede Rodeo (February) – This amateur rodeo features adult, keiki (child) and kūpuna (elder) roping and riding competitions, and showcases Hawaiʻi’s storied paniolo (cowboy) culture. Held at the Panaʻewa Equestrian Center near Hilo, the popular three-day weekend event includes team roping, barrel racing, bronco riding and bull riding, all alongside food and craft booths, and interactive demonstrations. www.hawaiirodeostampede.com
- Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (November) – One of Hawaiʻi’s longest-running food festivals, this celebration of the coffee bean, farmers and roasters that made the southwest region of the island famous features 10 days of events spotlighting Kona’s typically bright, sweet and subtly fruity award-winning java. The fest schedule includes tastings, coffee plantation and mill tours, harvesting and cupping competitions, an evening lantern parade through Kailua-Kona town, recipe contests and food events, a half-marathon, art strolls, a Miss Kona Coffee scholarship pageant, and a daylong town hoʻolauleʻa filled with eats, arts and crafts, entertainment and, of course, even more Kona-grown-and-roasted coffees to sample. www.konacoffeefest.com
As hosts to a variety of unique cultural attractions and one-of-a-kind experiences, the islands of Hawaiʻi offer countless amazing ways to craft a rewarding itinerary filled with cultural experiences without having to lose the conveniences of traveling within the United States. For additional information or ideas on how to plan your next visit, please visit www.meethawaii.com.