5 unique cultural festivals in Hawaii

(BPT) - While you may not need more reasons to visit Hawaii beyond its natural beauty and pristine beaches, the islands also celebrate unique cultural events to make any vacation truly memorable. The melting pot of cultures in the Aloha State make Hawaii different than any other place on earth. Planning your 2019 visit around one of these five festivals from March through July will make your trip even more special.

Honolulu Festival, March 8-10: Free and open to the public, this festival celebrates the mutual understanding, economic cooperation and ethnic harmony between the Hawaiian people and the Pacific Rim. Enjoy dance performances and traditional art demonstrations from Japan, Australia, Tahiti, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and Hawaii. The festival finale is a spectacular parade. For your visit, stay at the Sheraton Waikiki; The Royal Hawaiian; Westin Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Princess Kaiulani; Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; The Laylow, Autograph Collection; or Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.

Merrie Monarch Festival, April 25-27: The premier hula festival in the world, the Merrie Monarch is dedicated to the memory of arts patron King David Kalakaua (1836-1891), who famously said: “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.” In addition to the Hawaiian arts fair, music, craft demonstrations, hula shows and grand parade, the festival culminates in an amazing hula competition. Where to stay: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Westin Hapuna Beach Resort or Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

East Maui Taro Festival, April 13: Named for the most revered plant in Hawaiian culture (known in Hawaiian as Kalo), this festival celebrates Taro, believed to have the greatest life force of all foods, and which represents the origin of the Hawaiian people. The festival features a farmer’s market, hula dancing, arts and crafts, plus an array of traditional cultural demonstrations such as poi pounding and lauhala weaving. Stay at: Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui; Residence Inn – Maui Wailea; or Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport.

May Day, May 1: The popular phrase, “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii,” celebrates the most colorful time of year on the islands. While the special day is enjoyed statewide, the largest festivities are held on Oahu. Celebrations include lei-making and giving, plus, of course, hula dancing. Schools from preschool to high school hold special programs featuring “May Day Courts,” with their own princesses and princes representing each island. To experience the largest celebrations on Oahu, stay at: Sheraton Waikiki; The Royal Hawaiian; Westin Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Princess Kaiulani; Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; The Laylow, Autograph Collection; or Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.

Koloa Plantation Days Festival, July: Held on Kauai in July, the Koloa Plantation Days festival celebrates the ethnic groups that came to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations (and the Hawaiians who welcomed them) with a parade, craft and food booths, a rodeo, ukulele contest and family fun run during this 10-day festival. Where to stay: Sheraton Kauai Resort; Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection; or Kauai Marriott Resort.

Your trip to the Aloha State can be designed just for you, your special someone or your family, and centered around one of these unique cultural events for an unforgettable visit. To help plan your adventure in Hawaii that’s tailored to suit your budget, lifestyle and festival destination, contact Marriott International – Hawaii.