The Aloha Festivals are an annual series of free cultural celebrations observed in the state of Hawaii in the United States based on the Makahiki, the beginning of the Native Hawaiian year marked by the sighting of the Pleiades (Makali'i). It is the only statewide cultural festival in the nation. Highlights include the presentation of the Royal Court, a ho'olaule'a in Waikiki, and the Floral Parade. Approximately 30,000 people volunteer to plan, organize, and provide labor for the Aloha Festivals each year. Their efforts entertain over 1,000,000 people from throughout the state and visitors from all over the world.
In the spirit of preserving the Hawaiian culture and heritage, the Aloha Festivals were established in 1946 as Aloha Week by former members of the local Junior Chamber of Commerce. The former manager of the festivals, Goriann Akau, has said, "In 1946, after the war, Hawaiians needed an identity. We were lost and needed to regroup. When we started to celebrate our culture, we began to feel proud. We have a wonderful culture that had been buried for a number of years. This brought it out again. Self-esteem is more important than making a lot of money."
The festival was celebrated on six of Hawaii's islands, but in 2008 festival organizers decided to hold most events on Oahu due to a lack of funding. There was also the chance that the Floral Parade would be cancelled altogether, but it was saved by private donors and funds from the City and County of Honolulu.
No Aloha festival was held in 2020.
Presentation of the Royal Court
The court is selected from a pool of applicants, all of whom must be of Hawaiian ancestry and of certain ages. The festival itself begins with the presentation of the royal court during the opening ceremony. The ceremony takes place at Helumoa, a section of Waikiki near the Royal Hawaiian Center.
The Floral Parade starts at the intersection of Ala Moana Boulevard and Kamakee st. and goes through Waikiki before finishing at Kapiolani Park. The parade features p'au riders, marching bands, hula halaus, and that year's Aloha Festival Royal Court.
Each year has a specific theme:
- 2023: Piliʻaina - kinship with the Land
- 2022: Aloha ʻAina - Love of the Land
- 2021: Ke Ala I ka ma mua ka wa Mahope: The road to the future leads through the past(Royal court investiture only, held virtually)
- 2020: Parade Cancelled due to 9/11/20
- 2019: Nā Mo'olelo ʻUkulele: 'Ukulele Stories.
- 2018: No Ke Kai Kakou E ("We are of the Sea")
- 2017: He Lei Aloha ke Keiki: Children are our Garland of Love
- 2016: Hāli‘a Aloha ("Treasured memories")
- 2015: Hula Aloha ("Beloved Feather Treasures")
- 2014: Maluhia Honua, World Peace with Aloha
- 2013: Moana Nui Akea - Celebrating Ocean Voyaging
- 2012: Hoʻonui ʻIke - to Increase Knowledge
- 2011: Mele Ailana - Celebrate Island Music
- 2010: ? (info needed for this years)
- 2009: Hula ("Let the Story Be Told")
- 2008: Hula ("The Art of Hawaiian Dance")
- 2007: Ke Kahua Lani o Hawaii
- 2006: Na Paniolo Nui o Hawaii - The Great Cowboys of Hawaii
- 2005: Nā Honu Hawaiʻi ("The Spirit Within")
- 2004: No Nā Kamaliʻi ("For the Children")
- 2003: E Mau Ana Ka Hula I Ke Kanaka ("Hula Lives Through Its People")
- 2002: Ka ʻUhane O Ka Loea ("The Spirit of the Masters")
- 2001: Hoʻohanohano I Nā Holokai ("Honor the Voyagers")
- 2000: He Makana O Nā Lei Nani ("A Gift of Beautiful Leis")
- 1999: Hui Pū I ka Hula ("Together in Song and Dance")
- 1998: Ola Ka ʻŌiwi ("The Natives Endure")
- 1995: Hoʻala Hou - To Reawaken
- 1994: Lokomaikai: Of gracious and beautiful spirit
- 1993: E Pilimain: Come together as One
- 1992: He ʻOhana Kakou - We are all Family
- 1991: E Pupukahi
- 1990: Na Kamalei
- 1989: Mai Kupuna Mai
- 1988: Pulama - We Cherish
- 1987: We are Enriched
- 1986: This Land of Aloha
- 1984: Kulia I ka Nuʻu: Strive to Reach the Summit
- 1983: He Makana Makamae ʻo Ke Aloha
- 1982: Hawaii - the Isles of Smiles
- 1981: Rainbows of Aloha
- 1954: Pule Hoʻohakahala
- Paradise of the Pacific. Vol. 71. Press Publishing Company. 1959. p. 133.
- Foster, Jeanette (7 July 2011). Frommer's Maui 2012. John Wiley & Sons. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-118-10069-1. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Char, Sherie; Bailey, Chris (2009-09-19). "Aloha Festivals 2009 ho'olaulea block party, parade coming up. Here's the schedule". Hawaii Magazine. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- VOK. "Aloha Festivals Seeks Applicants for 2016 Oahu Royal Court and Floral Parade | The Voice of Kapolei". thevoiceofkapolei.com. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- "Your Guide to the 2017 Aloha Festivals Celebrating Hawaiian Culture". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Inefuku, Terri (2016-09-21). "70th annual Aloha Festivals Floral Parade traffic advisory, viewing tips". KHON. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- "Celebrate Hawaiian Culture at the Aloha Festival". www.halekulani.com. Archived from the original on 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Jones, Jay. "Where to find Aloha Festivals, Hawaii's biggest street parties, that last all of September". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Inefuku, Terri (2017-09-22). "Aloha Festivals hoolaulea to close Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki". KHON. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Lavin, Tony (April 27, 2018). "Aloha Festivals adopts theme 'We Are of the Sea': Travel Weekly". www.travelweekly.com. Retrieved 2018-06-07.