Hawaii marks King Kamehameha Day with parades, cultural events. Here’s where to go.
Hawaii will celebrate its 95th annual King Kamehameha Day this weekend — and next weekend — with ceremonies, parades and other cultural celebrations paying tribute to King Kamehameha the Great, who unified the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810 and was its first monarch.
The first King Kamehameha Day, proclaimed by King Kamehameha V to honor his grandfather, King Kamehameha I, was held on June 11, 1872. It’s now a state holiday — one of the first holidays proclaimed when Hawaii became a state in 1959.
King Kamehameha Day in the Islands will get under way tomorrow, Fri., June 10, on Oahu and the Big Island and will wrap up on Sat., June 18 on Maui and Kauai.
The largest of the celebrations takes place in Honolulu. Festivities get under way at 3:30 Fri. June 10, when the King Kamehameha I statue fronting Aliiolani Hale, across from Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu’s historic capitol district, receives its annual lei draping.
You’ll want to arrive early and bring a camera. Volunteers begin stringing the fresh 25-foot flower and maile lei for the statue on site from the early morning through much of the afternoon. During the draping ceremony, volunteers are lifted by way of cherry picker (or fire truck ladder) to drape long strands over the king’s outstretched arms.
The annual King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade — with its flower-studded floats, high school marching bands, pau riders, hula dancers, musicians and marching units — winds through downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, starting at 9 a.m. Sat. June 11.
This year, the parade, the longest in Hawaii, will start at King and Richards streets, wind along Punchbowl Street, Ala Moana Boulevard and finally turn onto Kalakaua Avenue — Waikiki’s main drag — and end at Kapiolani Park. Hawaii television, KFVE, will air live TV and online broadcasts, starting at 9 a.m. The event will air a second time, 5 p.m. Sun., June 19, also on KFVE.
Immediately following the parade, which ends at about 10 a.m. in Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park, the annual King Kamehameha Day Hoolaulea (celebration) — complete with live entertainment, food booths, cultural demonstrations, and educational exhibits — will be held in the park until about 3 p.m.
Here’s a list of King Kamehameha Day events slated for elsewhere in the Islands. We will update the schedule, as necessary.
• Fri., June 10, 5 p.m. — Lei draping of King Kamehameha Statue in Hilo Bayfront Park by royal societies and the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association.
• Sat. June 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Kamehameha Festival at Moku Ola in Hilo. A daylong celebration (pictured, right) on the small island park in Hilo Bay, featuring hula and live music, cultural demonstrations, food booths and Hawaii-made arts and crafts booths. Click here for more info.
• Sat. June 11, 8 a.m.-all day – North Kohala King Kamehameha Day celebration and parade. The Big Island region that is Kamehameha the Great’s birthplace celebrates with a blessing and lei draping of its statue of the king (pictured, below), chant and hula. A floral parade through Hawi and Kapaau, beginning at 9 a.m., ends at Kamehameha Park, where a daylong celebration will feature hula and musical entertainment, food booths, craft demonstrations and artist booths. Click here for more info.
• Sat. June 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — King Kamehameha Community Parade, Kailua Kona. This parade features more than 100 riders on horseback, as well as floats, a horse-drawn carriage, marching bands and hula groups. All eight Hawaiian Islands will be represented by pau equestrian units, which will showcase the colors and flora of each island. Click here for more information.
• June 18, 9 a.m.-all day — Lahaina Na Kamehameha Commemorative Pau Parade and Hoolaulea. The annual Lahaina town tradition begins at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies and a daylong hoolaulea (celebration) at Banyan Tree Park with entertainment, food booths and craft and artist booths. The parade begins at 9:45 a.m. on Front Street.
• Sat. June 18, 10 a.m. — King Kamehameha Floral Parade in Lihue. The parade will start at Vidinha Stadium, along Hoolako Street.