51st annual Merrie Monarch Festival hula competition begins this week. Watch it live online.


The 51st annual Merrie Monarch Festival gets underway this week on the Big Island with world-class hula competition, exhibitions, entertainment, arts-and-crafts fairs, and the annual Royal Parade through downtown Hilo.

The weeklong event, which runs now through April 26 in Hilo, honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, called the “Merrie Monarch” for his love of the arts, especially music and dance.

And, once again, you’ll be able to watch the Merrie Monarch’s three main hula competitions from wherever you are in the world thanks to Honolulu-based TV station KFVE, which will stream the events live online. Here’s the competition schedule with Hawaii start times:

• Miss Aloha Hula competition:
— Live broadcast: Thurs., April 24, 6 p.m.-midnight (Hawaii time)
— Rebroadcast stream: Fri., April 25, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Hawaii time)

• Hula Kahiko (traditional hula) competition:
— Live broadcast: Fri., April 25, 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Hawaii time)
— Rebroadcast stream: Sat., April 26, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Hawaii time)

• Hula Auana (modern hula) competition and festival awards:
— Live broadcast: Sat., April 26, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. (Hawaii time)
— Rebroadcast stream: Sun., April 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Hawaii time)

Click here to watch the competition live on these nights.

If you’re in Hawaii and want to catch Merrie Monarch competition on TV, all three contests will be broadcast live on KFVE at the times above.

Hula competition, introduced to the Merrie Monarch Festival in 1971, are the fest’s marquee events. Miss Aloha Hula night will feature 13 dancers competing solo for the title with two dance performances each—a kahiko and an auana. Hula Kahiko and Hula Auana nights feature multiple all-kane (men) and all-wahine (women) hula halau (hula troupes) competing for group honors in traditional and modern hula.

The most prestigious hula contest in the world, Merrie Monarch invites only a couple dozen hula halau to compete annually—this year, there are 28 halau. The halau arrive from throughout Hawaii and the mainland U.S. after months of preparation, often involving the crafting their own costumes and visiting the locations in their dance mele (song).

Photo: Merrie Monarch Festival

Tickets to the competition at Hilo’s Edith Kanakaole Stadium are always tough to come by and the event always sells out. Most Hawaii residents, however, are perfectly content to catch the competition live on TV—it has been broadcast annually for more than three decades—and, more recently, live online.

In Hilo this week with no ticket to the competition? You can still drop in on fest events. Open-to-the-public events associated with the Merrie Monarch Festival are happening all this week. They include the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on Sat., April 26 in downtown Hilo, a Hawaiian arts fair Wed., April 23 through Sat., April 26 and a free hula exhibition at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium on Wed., April 23.

Categories: Hawai‘i Island