Say Aloha to Hawaii

If you’re thinking about going on a Hawaiian vacation and you want the full on cultural experience, there’s no better time to take your trip than the fall, when the Aloha festival celebrates the islands’ royal heritage.

The first Aloha Festivals took place in 1946, when a group of Jaycees staged a grassroots cultural celebration reminiscent of the Makahiki season of ancient Hawaii.

The event now encompasses some 300 events on six islands spanning a two-month period. Nearly 30,000 volunteers work together to stage the various events, which are attended by nearly a million people each year.

The Aloha Festival runs through mid-October. Each island chooses a king, queen, prince, princess and attendants, all of whom are of Hawaiian descent. The investiture of each island’s alii is a wonderfully colorful affair, accompanied by conch shell blowers, kahili (feather standard) bearers, ladies-in-waiting and others.

The festival encompasses the traditional royal investiture ceremonies, last of their kind in the Americas, and also involves tributes to Pele, goddess of the volcanoes which light up the night sky.

The stated mission of the Aloha Festivals is to “preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture and to celebrate the diverse customs and Aloha Spirit of Hawaii.”

From a vacation condo base in Honolulu, you can watch street parades go by and get involved in partying with the locals, enjoying the traditional welcoming aspects of Hawaiian culture.

Food and drink are plentiful, and everything is decked out with garlands of flowers.

The scent of these flowers fills the warm island air. Free festivals in every major city offer the chance to discover local arts and crafts and watch local dancers perform for the public. Hula dancing is particularly popular, with Waikiki Beach famously playing host to the world’s longest hula line. There’s also the prestigious Hawaiian falsetto contest, held on O’ahu.

For those who want to see something with more ancient roots, there are the royal ceremonies, at which symbolic royal court officials are provided with their titles for a year. Strangers are welcome to greet the court if they bring gifts and garlands. It’s a superb opportunity to get involved in an event of great historic significance.

There are also ceremonies to honour Queen Lili`uokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, in the park which bears her name. You’ll find music, dancing, special food, and storytellers recounting the islands’ traditional tales.

The Aloha festival offers a wonderful way for visitors to get to know Hawaiian culture. Even if you don’t stray far from your vacation condo, you’ll find block parties at which everybody is welcome.

So choose fall for your next Hawaiian vacation, and you won’t be disappointed.