Your Primer to the 2023 Merrie Monarch Festival

After three years of pandemic disruptions, the festival is back in full force and celebrating its 60th anniversary. Here’s what you need to know about the festival, which runs from April 9-15.
Hālau Kawailiʻulā competing in the Hula Kahiko in 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Merrie Monarch Festival/Cody Yamaguchi

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Merrie Monarch Festival returns in all its glory this year. After a mix of pandemic cancelations and hybrid festivals, competition hula performances are finally open those who snagged coveted general admission tickets.  

The event is set to run from April 9-15 in Hilo, on Hawaiʻi Island. Dedicated to perpetuating Hawaiian culture, the Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long celebration, showcasing traditional crafts and artforms. The pinnacle of the week is the 3-day hula competition held at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium. During the prestigious competition, the stadium roars with excitement as exhilarating ʻoli (chants) and mele (songs) imbue the air. This year, 23 hālau hula (hula schools) are participating in the competition with three from the Big Island, 14 from Oʻahu, four from Maui, and one each from Kauaʻi and Washington. The week concludes with the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade, which graces downtown Hilo. Viewers around the world tune into the exciting events happening in the small town of Hilo, and here’s how you can, too. Here’s your events guide to the 60th Merrie Monarch Festival. 


Sunday, April 9 

This year the festival commences with a hoʻolauleʻa, or ceremony. The hoʻolauleʻa hasn’t been held since 2019. The opening ceremony is open to the public. 

Merrie Monarch Hawaiian Arts and Crafts Fair  

Wednesday, April 12-15 

The Merrie Monarch not only celebrates hula, but other traditional arts and crafts that have long been central to Hawaiian culture. The craft fair will be held at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium and Butler Buildings in Hilo.  

Hōʻike Performances 

Wednesday, April 12 

Hōʻike Night is a local favorite, providing the public a chance to enjoy exciting exhibition hula performances at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium the night before the competition begins. In 2022, tickets for Hōʻike Night sold out in three hours. Tickets are only $5 and went on sale in February.  

Miss Aloha Hula 

Thursday, April 13 

The competition commences with 12 wāhine (women) vying for the title of Miss Aloha Hula. The world’s best female hula dancers are judged on their ʻoli, hula kahiko (traditional dance) and hula ʻauana (modern dance) as well as their proficiency in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language).  

Hula Kahiko 

Friday, April 14 

Twenty-three hālau hula, split into kāne (men) and wāhine divisions, will compete in the ancient style of hula, known as hula kahiko. Their performances tell stories and legends of the Hawaiian Islands and are accompanied by traditional instruments and chants.  

Hula ʻAuana and Awards 

Saturday, April 15  

In contrast to hula kahiko, hula ʻauana is a more modern take on the traditional artform and is paired with modern stringed instruments. Groups grace the stage in colorful apparel and are adorned in lei. Following the hula ʻauana competition, winners will be announced for all divisions.

How to Watch

Viewers from around the world can tune into the Merrie Monarch Festival, which will be streaming from

For more information about the Merrie Monarch Festival, visit

Categories: Arts + Culture, Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i Island Arts + Culture, Merrie Monarch