Hawaii Island's festivals, events and celebratory milestones help give visitors exciting opportunities to talk story and engage with residents, as well as learn about the destination's culture, heritage and lifestyle.
From calming music to adrenaline-pumping sporting events, Big Island Visitor Bureau recently released tips to help agents plan their clients' next getaway to the Big Island around these upcoming celebrations.
For the Music Enthusiast
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel will host Hawaii Island's first Hawaii Songwriting Festival from June 11 to 13. In partnership with Kauai Music Festival, the festival aims to connect songwriters of all levels with some of the music industry's most successful, chart-topping songwriters including Jason Blume, an award-winning songwriter who has written hit songs for popular musicians including Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys; Gary Burr, a Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame member who has written hits for artists like Kelly Clarkson and Ringo Starr; and John Keawe, Hawaii's very own multi-NaHoku Hanohano award-winning artist.
Participating songwriters will learn and expand their networks through songwriting workshops, seminars, small group sessions, panels, one-on-one meetings, open mic events, and more. Music lovers not participating in the workshops and sessions can enjoy special concerts featuring well-known local entertainers on June 12 and the songwriters on June 13.
In Hilo, the Big Island Slack Key Festival will be held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium from noon to 6 p.m. on September 20, celebrating the art of the unique Hawaiian acoustic guitar art form.
For the Timeless Globetrotter
Celebrate 50 years of the legendary Mauna Kea Beach Hotel during the hotel's Golden Anniversary Week from July 21 to 26. Festivities include a "Back in the Day" Mauna Kea Luau, special art tour showcasing the property's 1,600 piece art collection, and the grand celebration - Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's 50th Anniversary Gala on July 24, 50 years to the day of the hotel's opening. Highlights include entertainment by Hiroshima, a custom 50th anniversary dinner and an exciting fireworks show to top off the night.
For the Food Tripper
Kalani presents the Puna Culinary Festival, to be held from September 2-7, for visitors to experience the abundant harvest of Hawaii Island and interact directly with the region's growers, farmer's market purveyors and food enthusiasts. Throughout the eight-day festival, attendees will enjoy meals prepared by top chefs, cooking classes, sustainable farm tours, market visits, thought-provoking workshops and more. This not-for-profit festival is helping to revitalize Puna and surrounding areas by sharing sustainability and permaculture practices championed by its innovative residents.
Kona Historical Society's Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook will be opening up the farm for its Founders' Day Celebration, honoring Kona's coffee heritage from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on October 24. This free event promises to be a fun day with many coffee farm-related activities including coffee tastings, traditional food, music, local produce, and tours of the historic 1920s farm and farmhouse. Visitors can enjoy the cultural celebration that surrounds 16 years as the only living history coffee farm in the nation.
Other culinary-inspired festivals visitors won't want to miss include Hawaii Food & Wine Festival with its Hawaii Island signature event to be held on August 29; and the 45th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, combining a modern-day infatuation with coffee and Kailua-Kona's old-world history from November 6 to 15.
For the Sport Seeker
The 56th Annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is scheduled for August 8 to 15, continuing the tradition of fishing for big marlin in the beautiful waters of Kailua-Kona. Anglers and teams are invited to apply for entry in the full tournament.
The 44th Annual Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races will be held from September 3-7. More than 2,500 outrigger canoe paddlers from around the globe and throughout Hawaii will battle for top honors during the signature 18-mile long distance race, the largest long distance outrigger canoe race in the world.
Visitors can watch the action and also participate in events including Historic Kailua Village Cultural Walk, Paddling Talk Story, Native Artist Fair, Torchlight Parade, Stand Up Paddleboard Race, Alii Challenge, and new this year, Hulakai OC4 (four-person canoe) Sprint Relay Race.
The IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro, considered one of the most grueling one-day sporting events in the world, will be held in Kailua-Kona on October 10. Triathletes from around the world swim through the waters surrounding Kailua Pier, bike through Kona roads to the Kohala Coast and back and run a marathon course that ends at Alii Drive with thousands of cheering spectators at the finish line.
For the Yogi Traveler
Kalani announces the Hawaii Yoga Festival, a uniquely intimate yoga experience on Hawaii Island's "Yoga Coast" from November 8-15. Throughout this weeklong festival, yogis from around the world will share playful practice, on and off the mat, alongside celebrated teachers from Hawaii and beyond. Festival-goers will engage in restorative asana, pranayama, meditation, kirtan, and wellness treatments, combined with Hawaiian cultural teachings and traditional ceremonies at powerful island sites.