Aloha Festivals returns to share the aloha in person

HONOLULU — The 2022 Aloha Festivals marks a celebratory return this weekend after a two-year hiatus. With the theme of “Aloha ‘Āina, Love of the Land,” Aloha Festivals’ three signature events begin with its first that follows a tradition of cultural protocol and ensures the festival is rightly rooted.

What You Need To Know

  • Sept. 10: Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony, 4-6 p.m., Helumoa Gardens at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort and Royal Hawaiian Center’s Royal Grove
  • Sept. 17: 68th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a, 6-9:30 p.m., Kalakaua Avenue
  • Sept. 24: 74th Annual Floral Parade, 9 a.m.-noon, from Ala Moana Beach Park along Kalakaua Avenue to Queen Kapiolani Park
  • Event information and merchandise (from Sept. 17) are available on the Aloha Festivals website

The Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony takes place 4-6 p.m. Sept. 10 at Helumoa Gardens at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort. The royal court representing Hawaii’s rich past will don regalia traditionally worn only by ali‘i of the highest rank. Following the investiture, the opening ceremony will continue at Royal Hawaiian Center’s Royal Grove with hula and mele by Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e.

The Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony follows traditional Hawaiian protocol. (Photo courtesy of Aloha Festivals)

“The Aloha Festivals’ board is thrilled to be welcoming visitors and residents back to enjoy our signature events for the first time since September 2019,” said Aloha Festivals Board Co-Chair Helene “Sam” Shenkus to Spectrum News. “Our commitment to celebrating and perpetuating the Aloha Spirit and our Hawaiian culture sustained us over the past two years, and this September will be memorable for all of us!”

She adds, “Each event provides a unique experience that can only be had here in Hawaii. While these events aren’t new, after a two-year pause, we think these events will be a refreshing and festive experience.”

On Sept. 17, Kalakaua Avenue will close to vehicular traffic and open up to foot traffic with the 68th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a, 6-9:30 p.m. Stoplights won’t make a difference this night as booths and food trucks draw thousands of people with crafts, cuisine and more. And once again, musical groups, including Kapena and Ho‘okena, plus other Hawaii artists, will take over five stages dedicated to live performances.

The 68th Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a will shut down Kalakaua Ave. for a night of food, culture and live performances. (Photo courtesy of Aloha Festivals)

Aloha Festivals’ concluding event is the 74th Annual Floral Parade, 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 24. The colorful procession will kick off at Ala Moana Beach Park, make its way along Kalakaua Ave and end at Queen Kapiolani Park. Thousands of folks are anticipated to line the route and welcome parade participants that will include local high school marching bands, civic clubs, community organizations, and pā‘ū riders representing the neighbor islands, according to Shenkus.

This year’s theme, “Aloha ‘Āina, Love of the Land,” is timely. 

“Aloha ‘Āina is the love and respect we have for the land. It is all of our kuleana (responsibility) to care for it, and in return, it will care for us,” shared Shenkus. “The message and goal of Aloha ‘Āina will be interwoven throughout our events in many ways. Entertainment stage emcees and parade announcers will emphasize this message, and even the parade floats will implement design elements that celebrate the concept of Aloha ‘Āina.

“We hope that this year’s theme reaches those here and abroad, and that it will encourage people to take the time to reflect on what it means to Aloha ‘Āina wherever they call home.”

Aloha Festivals will conclude with the colorful and vibrant 74th Annual Floral Parade on Sept. 24. (Photo courtesy of Aloha Festivals)

First held in 1946 as Aloha Week, Aloha Festivals has become the largest cultural celebration of Hawaiian culture, integrating the traditions and cultures of the islands through music, dance, cuisine and art. Its mission is to foster the aloha spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawaii.

“I am personally overjoyed that we are able to return to our full schedule of in-person events,” said Shenkus. “We hope that local families will be able to enjoy these events once again, and recapture a little more of the normalcy that was lost over the last two years.”

Many partners enable Aloha Festivals to come to fruition each year. One of them, Hawaii’s Finest, has created Aloha Festivals merchandise centered on the “Aloha ‘Āina, Love of the Land” theme. The public can also help support the cultural event by purchasing the ribbon and merchandise that will be available starting Sept. 17 at the ho‘olaule‘a and on the Aloha Festivals website.

Sarah Yamanaka covers events, environmental and community news for Spectrum News Hawaii.