Whether you're a chocolate lover, in search of some great Hawaiian music, or want to go fly a kite, here are events worth checking out if you're on the Islands in April.
Chef Bloc: 50 Shades of Hugh
Executive chef Isaac Bancaco of Kaana Kitchen at Andaz Maui hosts a five-course artisan collaboration with James Beard Award-winning author and current Bravo “Top Chef” judge Hugh Acheson. Prepare to be dazzled by their masterful preparations of local ingredients.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, 3550 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, (808) 573-1234, maui.andaz.hyatt.com.
Chinese Kite Festival
Colorful cultural traditions abound at Wo Hing Museum on International Kite Day, a holiday which originated in India to celebrate the day that winter turns to summer. Fly your own kites, learn how to make them and watch kite acrobatics.
Free, Wo Hing Museum, 858 Front St., Lahaina, (808) 661-5553, lahainarestoration.org.
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Celebration of the Arts Festival
Now in its 25th year, this festival gathers reputable artisans, educators, cultural practitioners, speakers and entertainers from all over Hawaii for a celebration of Hawaiian culture that includes Hawaiian chants, hula, an awa ceremony, a native fashion show, traditional heirloom-making workshops, Hawaiian food and spirited after-parties with impromptu performances by some of Hawaii’s well-known musicians and dancers.
$25 per adult, $12 per child ages 6 to 11, Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, 1 Ritz Carlton Dr., Lahaina, (808) 669-6200, kapaluacelebrationofthearts.com.
25th Annual East Maui Taro Festival
The kalo (taro) plant, a staple food of the Native Hawaiian diet—and a plant that represents the origin of the Hawaiian people—is celebrated at this fest to promote the traditional foods, arts, crafts and cultural values of Hawaii. Catch live music, activities (like poi pounding and tapa cloth making), food booths serving dishes made from kalo and a farmers market with kalo plants and products for sale.
Free, Hana Ballpark, Hana, (808) 264-1553, tarofestival.org.
Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
Masters of the Hawaiian steel guitar technique gather for this annual event to make beautiful music in a style indigenous to Hawaii and to teach steel guitar workshops. Each day features a different lineup of players, and the public is welcome to participate—just bring your own instrument. Don’t miss the exhibit with vintage lap steel guitars from the 1930s.
Free, Kaanapali Beach Hotel (2525 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina) and the Queen Kaahumanu Center (275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului), mauisteelguitarfestival.com.
Jake Shimabukuro at Blue Note Hawaii
Catch one of six shows by chart-topping Hawaii ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who has played for the Queen of England and jammed out with big names like Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley and others. Hawaii Symphony Orchestra cellist Josh Nakazawa will join Shimabukuro to perform tracks from his new album, Nashville Sessions.
$25-$45, Blue Note Hawaii, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, (808) 777-4890, bluenotehawaii.com.
Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase
March 31 to April 9
The vanguard of international cinema in Hawaii, HIFF discovers and screens unique feature films, documentaries and shorts from all around the world. Keep an eye out for national and world premieres, and inaugural films by new directors.
$14 general admission, $12 students, seniors and military. Regal Theaters Dole Cannery Stadium 18, 735 Iwilei Rd., Honolulu, (808) 792-1577, hiff.org.
Inaugural Grand Lanai Restaurant Week at the International Market Place
Try exclusive prix fixe menus, discounted dishes and special culinary offerings from award-winning chefs at the newly remodeled International Market Place’s third floor restaurants, including Goma Tei, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, Kona Grill, Stripsteak and Chinese dim sum teahouse Yauatcha.
Various restaurants and specials, International Market Place Grand Lanai, 2330 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, grandlanai.com.
25th Annual I Love Kailua Town Party
Kailua’s biggest event of the year, the fundraiser, spearheaded by the nonprofit Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, closes down the streets for a lively community party with food booths, art, plants and handcrafted items for sale, a children’s fun zone with rides and jumpers, and live music.
Free, Kailua Road, Kailua, lanikailuaoutdoorcircle.org/index/Kailua_Town_Party.
March 8 to May 8
From the month of April to the beginning of May, visit any of Honolulu’s museums, Foster Botanical Gardens and several other Biennial venues to see amazing modern art from the Pacific and beyond. If you have to choose one place to stop, the headquarters, dubbed The Hub, is worth a visit on its own.
$10 general admission to The Hub, $25 unlimited pass. 333 Ward Ave., Honolulu, honolulubiennial.org.
Waikiki Spam Jam
The iconic Spam Jam, dedicated to Hawaii’s favorite canned meat (more Spam is consumed per person in Hawaii than in any other state in the United States) attracts over 25,000 people with a lively block party, featuring entertainment stages, creative Spam dishes and lots of Spam merchandise.
Free, Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, (808) 735-7788, spamjam.com.
Athletes from all corners of the globe come to this USA Triathlon-sanctioned event on the Kohala Coast. Worth mentioning: The triathletes’ after-party/beach barbecue has been voted Best Awards Party in Triathlon magazine. Registration sold out/wait list open. Any additional open slots require an extra $100 charity donation in addition to the $250 triathlon fee.
Big Island Chocolate Festival
If you love chocolate, you won’t want to miss this festival. Get an inside look at cacao farming, chocolate making and (the real reason you’re going) indulge in tastings of a wide variety of chocolates in both sweet and non-sweet forms, and chocolate concoctions whipped up by competing college culinary teams.
Gala general tickets: $79; all-day Friday passes $135; Saturday chocolate demos: $75. Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, 62-100 Kaunaoa Dr., Waimea, (888) 977-4623, bigislandchocolatefestival.com.
Merrie Monarch Festival
Considered “hula’s Olympics,” this annual festival turns Hilo into a cultural epicenter for a week. Founded in 1963, the highly anticipated event is named after Hawaii’s last reigning king, Kalakaua, nicknamed “The Merrie Monarch,” whose love of Hawaii’s vibrant cultural traditions helped spark hula’s artistic resurgence. Festivities kick off with a parade and public hoolaulea (celebration), as well as a Hawaiian artisan craft fair with live music and dancing—all leading up to the three exciting nights of hula competition.
Tickets to the hula competition are sold out, but most activities are free and open to the public. Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium, 350 Kalanikoa St., Hilo, (808) 935-9168, merriemonarch.com.
Spring Fantasy Orchid Society Show
Plant-lovers, take this opportunity to see stunning, exotic orchid varietals at this popular spring show, hosted by the Garden Island Orchid Society. Purchase your own orchids, attend potting demonstrations and talk story with other orchid aficionados.
Free, 4481 Kona Rd., Hanapepe, (808) 651-9403, gardenislandorchidsociety.org.
Makana & Friends—A Tribute To Sonny Chillingworth
Young, internationally acclaimed Hawaii musician Makana and some of Hawaiian music’s legends pay tribute to the late Hawaiian slack-key guitar master, Sonny Chillingworth. Special guests include Lopaka Colon, Nina Kealiiwahamana, George Kuo and Yoza.
$35-$55, Kauai Christian Academy Community Center, 4000 Kilauea Rd., Kilauea. 1-800-838-3006, makanamusic.brownpapertickets.com.
Fast and Furriest Festival
From the Kauai Humane Society, a very community-involved center that rents out dogs as furry hiking companions, comes this fun festival, a lively day of dog contests and shows, pet product vendors, a kid zone, demos and more.
Free, Kauai Humane Society, 3-825 Kaumualii Hwy., Lihue, (808) 632-0610, kauaihumane.org.
Molokai Earth Day Celebration
Sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, this is one of the biggest events all year on Molokai. Visit the fishponds, learn about the work local nonprofits do, chow down on ono food, win prizes and watch live, local music and hula performances at this festival in the park.
Free, Mitchell Pauole Center, 90 Ainoa St., Kaunakakai, (808) 553-5236, facebook.com/MolokaiVisitorsAssociation.