The Aloha Festivals are an annual series of free cultural celebrations observed in the state of Hawaii in the United States. It is the only statewide cultural festival in the nation. It features concerts, parades, street parties called ho‘olaule‘a as well as various other special events planned for resident and tourist families. The Aloha Festivals are celebrated on six islands — Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and the Big Island of Hawaii — over the course of six weeks between August and October.1
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."2 The main highlight of the original Aloha Week was the presentation of the Maui Royal Court and a floral parade, a two hour parade eastbound on Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue through Downtown Honolulu, Kakaako, Ala monarch. Events include the Falsetto Contest in Wailea, the Banyan Tree Ho'olaule'a in Lahaina, the Hawaiian Festival in Ka`anapali and the Hana Parade.3 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.
Each year has a specific theme:
- 2009: Hula ("Let the Story Be Told")
- 2008: Hula ("The Art of Hawaiian Dance")
- 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")
- Travel & leisure. American Express Pub. Corp. 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Foster, Jeanette (7 July 2011). Frommer's Maui 2012. John Wiley & Sons. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-118-10069-1. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Hamblin, Sharon (1 February 2006). Maui Adventure Guide. Hunter Publishing, Inc. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-58843-516-3. Retrieved 29 April 2012.