There is no shortage of Big Island events and activities to keep any visitor busy for the length of their stay. But if you are a repeat visitor, or if you are just looking for something unique to make your Big Island getaway even more memorable, you might consider attending one of the special events that are happening here throughout the year. Here are some of our favorites:
March 10: Kona Brewers Festival, Kona
The annual Kona Brewers Festival brings together great local beer and cider, local food pairings, and local music & entertainment for one evening at the historic Kamakahonu Beach at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. The event features 30+ breweries from Hawaii and the mainland, 30+ local restaurants, hula, and live bands, as well as a pre-festival 5k/10k race and a home brewers’ competition. Proceeds from ticket sales go to local non-profit organizations and grants for programs that benefit Hawaii’s environment, youth, and culture. Tickets went on sale December 16, 2017 and sell out fast, but there may still be some available here.
April 1-7: Merrie Monarch Festival, Hilo
The Merrie Monarch Festival is an annual week-long event that celebrates Hawaiian culture and the cultural renaissance brought about during the reign of King David Kalakaua. The Festival is centered around the world’s largest hula competition, which draws competing teams from all of the major Hawaiian Islands. Take a look at our recap of the 2017 competition. The event is not to be missed, and as such, tickets sell out almost as soon as ticket sales open. For information on how to get tickets visit the Merrie Monarch Festival website.
June, Date TBD: Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival, South Kohala
The annual Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival is held ocean-side at the iconic Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. It features a weekend of events, the highlight of which is a full day of performances by award-winning artists from around the world. This Big Island event combines the scenic coastline and fine weather of the Kohala coast with excellent music and a top-quality venue, and is sure to please everyone from casual listener to aficionado. This year’s dates and lineup have yet to be announced, but you can check the festival website periodically for updates.
July 4: Parker Ranch Rodeo, Waimea
The annual Fourth of July Rodeo brings a full day of family-friendly fun to the Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena. Set against the backdrop of the sprawling Parker Ranch and majestic Mauna Kea, the rodeo includes ribbon mugging, ranch mugging, dally team roping, Po’o Wai U, and more. Local vendors will be on site serving food and beverages. Tickets can be purchased from the Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, or you can call (808) 885-2323.
August 30 – September 3: Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Races, South Kona
Each Labor Day weekend a major canoe racing event takes place along the Kona Coast, the most notable of which is the 18-mile Wa’a Kaukahi race between Kailua Bay and Honaunau Bay. This year, on Saturday, August 1, the Women’s teams will race from Kamakohonu Beach down to Honaunau Bay. They will then switch boats with the men’s teams, who race back up to the Kamakahonu. The event is the longest race of the season to take place on Hawaii Island, and it is very competitive. Many of the top teams go on to compete in the longer inter-island races. Spectators can watch the race unfold from many points along the Kona Coast, but one of the best vantage points is from our makai lanai here at the Holualoa Inn.
September 29: Taste of the Hawaiian Range, Waimea
The Taste of the Hawaiian Range event was created to showcase Hawaiian agriculture and the exceptional food that can be created with locally-produced ingredients. This year’s event includes a full day of educational activities for adults and children and tours of local farms. The day is capped with a tasting event featuring creations from local chefs and restaurants. Daytime events are free and open to the public. Tickets for the evening tasting go on sale online in Summer 2018, so check back on their website if you are interested in attending.
November, Date TBD: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Kona & Holualoa
We’ve just wrapped up the 2017 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival here on the Big Island, but we are already looking forward to next year’s event. The festival is a celebration of the world-class coffee grown here on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes, and, more importantly, of the people who have worked so hard to make sure that we continue to produce the best coffee possible. For more detailed information on the event, you can read our blog. The festival is 10 days long, and includes coffee tastings, farm tours, gallery exhibits, hands-on craft events, and an excellent Kona Coffee-themed food tasting featuring local chefs. The 2018 dates have not yet been announced, but you can check back on the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival website to see when the event will be held. The Holualoa Village Ohana’s annual Coffee and Art Stroll is scheduled for Saturday, November 10, 2018.
December 1: Holualoa Village Music & Light Festival
The annual lighting of the village Christmas Tree here in Holualoa is celebrated with an evening of music, open galleries along the main street, and an appearance by Santa. Everything can be reached with a quick walk from the Holualoa Inn, and the festival makes for a charming evening stroll among the artist’s shops and music venues. For more information you can contact the Holualoa Village Ohana at (808) 322-8484.
January, Dates TBD: Ocean Film Festival, Waimea & Four Seasons Hualalai
The Ocean Film Festival brings over 60 films to the Big Island each year, along with guest speakers, filmographers, and producers. The film screenings are coupled with expert talks, Q&A’s and panel discussions, and early morning ocean-centered wellness activities that make for an immersive experience. The festival begins in South Kohala at venues in historic Waimea, the Mauna Kea Resort, and the Fairmont Orchid, before moving to the Four Seasons Resort at Hualalai. Visit the Waimea Ocean Film Festival for more information, tickets and a complete program for the 2019 festival.
Each year Waimea celebrates the fleeting bloom of its 60-year-old Japanese cherry trees with hanami, or “flower viewing,” as well as cultural activities throughout South Kohala. Events include Japanese and Hawaiian musical performances, food tastings at the Kohala resorts, and hands-on demonstrations of origami, bonsai, and mochi pounding. Shuttle transportation between events and locations is provided. For more information call (808) 961-8706.
If you are looking to enjoy one of these fun Big Island events or festivals in 2018 or 2019, book a room at our Big Island bed and breakfast.