14th Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii returns to the islands

HONOLULU — An all-star lineup of local and international performers puts the spotlight on the humble ukulele at the 14th Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii, Feb. 17-19. The Ukulele Foundation of Hawaii has expanded the festival to three days, with events scheduled at multiple venues.

What You Need To Know

  • The 14th Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii kicks off with the “Ukulele Picnic Special LIVE,” noon-2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Beach Bar of the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa
  • “Ukulele Picnic” takes place 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage
  • Tickets are sold out for the “Premium Ukulele Party and Boo Takagi Tribute,” 4-7 p.m. Feb. 19 at DECK at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel

“Among the many charms of Hawaii is its music, especially the ukulele, which fills the air like a gentle breeze,” said Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, chair of the Ukulele Foundation of Hawaii, the event organizer, in a press release. “Since our first Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii in 2009, it’s been our goal to share Hawaii’s culture through the instrument that, for many, symbolizes Hawaiian music, the ukulele.”

“Ukulele Picnic Special LIVE” kicks off this year’s event at the Beach Bar of the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa, noon-2 p.m. Feb. 17. The two-hour program highlights musician Boo Takagi, celebrating 75 years of performing on the ukulele, plus Yoko Oginome, Yoshio Nomura, Kenta Ebara, and the Sekiguchi Band. The event is free though food and beverage purchase is required for Beach Bar seating.

Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage is the backdrop for the “Ukulele Picnic,” 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Feb. 18. Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Raiatea Helm and Mark Yamanaka will perform, along with Kamuela Kimokeo & Hi‘ikua, Kala‘e Camarillo, Kalei Gamiao & Corey Fujimoto, Jody Kamisato & Ukulele Hale, Kenta Ebara, the Homies Ukulele Orchestra from Japan, the 1933 Ukulele All Stars, and others throughout the day.

“We are honored to host the return of the Ukulele Picnic and we look forward to welcoming the talented performers and many fans to Ala Moana Center,” said Jake Wilson, vice president and senior general manager, Ala Moana Center. “After more than two years, we’re pleased to be able to host an event of this magnitude at Centerstage, all while enhancing the shopping experience.”

Closing out the festival is the “Premium Ukulele Party and Boo Takagi Tribute” at DECK at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel, 4-7 p.m. Feb. 19. Tickets (currently sold out) are required for this event featuring Raiatea Helm and the 1933 Ukulele All Stars.

The 1933 All Stars was born after a conversation between Takagi and Sekiguchi roughly 25 years ago. Takagi had asked Sekiguchi, “Can we organize something, like (a) Ukulele Orchestra?” The question started the collaboration of musicians and ukulele enthusiasts from Japan led by Boo Takagi, including Yoko Oginome, Kimiko Wakiyama, Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, Yu Hatakeyama, Yanagiman, and Yoshio Nomura.

Added Sekiguchi, “We are thrilled to perform at three different venues this year and have selected places that are convenient and familiar to both locals and visitors. We believe this is an opportunity for Hawaii residents who have never experienced Ukulele Picnic before, as well as tourists from the Mainland and Japan, to discover this exciting musical event.”

Sarah Yamanaka covers events, environmental and community news for Spectrum News Hawaii. She can be reached at [email protected]