The Waikiki Insider

April 2, 2012 | By Mona Wood-Sword

Visitor Tips from Someone in the Know!

Ah, glorious spring! I know many visitors laugh when we mention having seasons in Hawai‘i. However, as any kama‘aina knows, the subtlest changes in weather this time of year mean change is upon us. And, perhaps more importantly, with the season comes some of the most historic, prestigious and exciting events in the Aloha State—with our own beloved Waikiki playing host to many of them.

So mark your calendars for some of my favorite events of the year …

May 1: 85th Annual Lei Day Celebration
Queen Kapi‘olani Park Bandstand, Waikiki

Whenever someone gives me a flower lei, everything seems better with the world. Every May 1, the City and County of Honolulu hosts a free all-day celebration of the lei at Queen Kapi‘olani Park, presided over by the Lei Queen. Lei contests, food and crafts booths, storytelling, hula and music lessons, and performances by some of Hawai‘i’s top entertainers and hula halau are featured at the event. You can buy or make a lei there, and then belt out your own rendition of May Day is Lei Day in Hawai‘i.

April 27 – May 27: Second Annual Mele Mei
Various Locations throughout Waikiki

Presented by Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA), and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), Mele Mei, an unprecedented month-long celebration of Hawaiian music, includes more then 30 exciting events held throughout Waikiki and surrounding areas. Some of these events, such as the Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival, the International Waikiki Hula Conference and HARA’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, are well established, while others, such as a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest ukulele ensemble April 28 and a live concert series at Waikiki hotels, are new introductions. Basically, there’s something to do every single day, featuring live entertainment, fashion shows, hula and a unique silent auction, through the 35th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (see more on this event, below) May 27. Mele Mei is the ultimate excuse to party in Waikiki in May!

May 5 & May 25-27: Na Hoku Hanohano Music Festival and 35th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards
Hawai‘i Convention Center, Waikiki

To receive a Na Hoku Hanohano Award (“Hokus”), Hawai‘i’s own Grammys-like music awards, is pretty sweet. Translated as “The Stars of Distinction,” winning this award brings recognition, prestige, invitations to perform around the world, radio airplay, and increased CD sales and iTunes downloads. Created in 1978 to recognize outstanding achievement by recording artists, the Hokus have grown from an intimate group to a packed Kalakaua Ballroom at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, a live television broadcast and live streaming to a worldwide audience. In 2011, two days of music-related workshops were added prior to the Hokus to create the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Festival, giving attendees the unique opportunity to study under and interact with Hokus winners and notable kumu. Last year’s workshops were attended by kama‘aina and visitors, alike.

You can still purchase tickets for the festival and awards at