Oahu festival celebrates all things lei this weekend


Love lei? On Oahu this weekend? We’ve found the festival for you.

A Celebration of Hawaiian Lei Making will take place March 20-22 at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, across the street from the Honolulu Academy of Arts—with hands-on lei-making demonstrations, talk story sessions and photo exhibits.  The weekend’s events will culminate with an “Iron Lei Maker Challenge,” where two teams of lei makers will have two hours to craft a lei using a secret theme material.

Master lei maker Brian Choy—who we profiled in our Hawaii Style feature in the March/April 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine—will host many of the weekend’s events, including panel discussions on planting and maintaining a lei garden and tips on how to enter the state’s May Day Lei Competition, a contest he has won on numerous occasions.

Choy was introduced to Hawaiian lei making in 1976, in of all things, a class on preparing a luau. The class included a half-hour lei making session. Those 30 minutes grew into 30-plus years of practice. Lei making became his life-long passion. Though Choy has retired from competition, he has long been compelled to teach others and will do so this weekend.

He’ll have a little help from his friends. Island lei legends Bill Char, Roy Benham and others will be on hand to showcase their skills. Fellow Hawaii Style artist Paulette Kahalepuna will also contribute. Kahalepuna was profiled in our feature for her exquisite feather lei work, though she is well versed in floral lei. The lei masters have over a century’s worth of lei making experience combined.

For more information on this weekend’s events, click here, or call (808) 532-8700.

Categories: Oʻahu