Experience the Magic of the Ukulele at the Annual Ukulele Festival in Waikiki

By Andy Beth Miller

ukulele festival

The Annual Ukulele Festival is held at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki. Photo:  Michele Meyer.

The soothing, dulcet tones of Hawaii’s iconic ʻukulele are just as synonymous with what one imagines when they think of the islands as are the hula, “hanging ten,” aloha shirts and the floral lei. And each year, Oʻahu residents and visitors alike gather to celebrate this unique, traditional instrument and to collectively enjoy the beautiful music it makes.

Laughter, Love and Hope

With a stated mission “to bring laughter, love and hope to children and adults throughout Hawaiʻi and the world through the music of the ʻukulele,” Roy and Kathy Sakuma — avid ʻukulele masters in their own rites who have dedicated their lives to spearing the abounding joy of the instrument to others — hosted the 1st Annual Ukulele Festival in 1971. At the time, playing the ʻukulele was not a widespread or popular pastime, and Roy really wanted to open people’s eyes to the true gift and joy that was all things ʻukulele.

Roy envisioned creating a community forum, where people could come and, with no cost to them at all, witness the wonder of an ʻukulele being played, to see that one soloist could make melodies that could stand on their own and which were marked by sophistication, class and virtuosity, not merely rhythms to be relegated as background music. This forum came to fruition as a free concert, now celebrating its 47th year.

Celebrate the 47th Ukulele Festival

This year, on Sunday, July 16, 2017, from the hours of 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., come join the party at the 47th Annual Ukulele Festival. Held at Kapiʻolani Park Bandstand in Waikīkī, this now cherished Hawaiʻi summer tradition has become the largest ʻukulele festival of its kind in the entire world, attracting crowds numbering in the thousands to its grassy lawns in order to enjoy musical entertainment from local ʻukulele masters as well as guest artists from across the globe. A special highlight each year is the ʻukulele orchestra, which consists of more than 800 student participants, the majority of which are keiki — a testament of the success of Roy’s dream to foster appreciation and excitement about the ʻukulele within the next generation.

There will be about 22 to 25 different performances. In addition to the entertainment, there will be food booths, ʻukulele displays, complimentary ʻukulele lessons, and souvenirs to purchase. Admission is free and so is the parking and shuttle service from Kapiolani Community College.

Family friendly and loads of fun, this festival is so much more than just a free outdoor concert, it’s truly a chance to commune with one another, brought together by the beauty of the music of the ʻukulele amid the gorgeous backdrop of Oʻahu’s iconic Diamond Head. So come on and bring your best smile and listening ears — heck, even bring your own ʻukulele to jam on the lawn, too — we’ll see you there!

Click here for more event details.

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