Na Hula Festival, Hawaii’s Longest Running Non-Competitive Hula Event

By Andy Beth Miller

Imagine this scene: Palm trees swaying, a refreshing tropical breeze blowing gently across your brow and the warm kiss of sunshine radiating down upon you — all while witnessing the most beautiful and graceful of art forms literally dance before your eyes, the Hawaiian hula.

About the Na Hula Festival

The Na Hula Festival is the longest-running non-competitive hula event in Hawaii, starting in 1940 when kumu hula hosted a presentation by their students. Photo: Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Now in its 77th year, the Nā Hula Festival has, since its inception way back in 1940, been dedicated to celebrating the unsurpassed artistry, elegance and grace of hula, the iconic dance form of the Hawaiian islands. The 2-day extravaganza, which is the aloha state’s longest running annual non-competitive hula event, is hosted by the City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and will be held this year on August 6, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days at Honolulu’s Kapi‘olani Park.

And perhaps the best part? The festival is absolutely free to the public.

The Origins of the Na Hula Festival

The Na Hula Festival is the longest-running non-competitive hula event in Hawaii, starting in 1940 when kumu hula hosted a presentation by their students. Photo: Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The brainchild of Hawaiʻi icons Violet “Aunty Lei” Collins and Alice Kalahui, the festival first began as a way to celebrate and showcase the DPR’s kumu hula (teachers) and haumana (students) — in a big, beautifully festive and grand way!

The Beautiful Tradition Continues

The Na Hula Festival is the longest-running non-competitive hula event in Hawaii, starting in 1940 when kumu hula hosted a presentation by their students. Photo: Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Today, continuing in this beloved tradition, dance schools (and spectators!) throughout the islands are encouraged to pack up their hāli‘i (covering, spread) and most ʻono mea ‘ai (delicious food items) and take part in the festivities while simply enjoying a fun, community-oriented day (or two!) at the largest and oldest public park in Honolulu.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NaHulaFestival or www.hawaii.com/event/na-hula-festival/.

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