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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
The mother of all Big Island festivals, the Merrie Monarch celebrates all things hula and completely overtakes Hilo for one fantastic weekend a year. The highly popular event honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, the man responsible for reviving fading Hawaiian cultural traditions such as hula. The festival is staged at the spacious Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium during the first week following Easter Sunday. Hula halau (studios) compete in kahiko (ancient) and auana (modern) dance styles. You need to reserve accommodations up to a year in advance. Ticket requests must be mailed in advance after December 26 of the preceding year. www.merriemonarchfestival.org.
On the oceanfront North Pointe Luau Grounds of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, you can sample the best of island cuisine while listening to the music and hula of the renowned Lim family. Held every Tuesday and Friday, it includes an amazing fire-knife dance, spirited chanting, and traditional hula. You can relax under the stars and enjoy a traditional feast of kalua pig roasted in an underground oven. www.maunakeabeachhotel.com.
This venue seats 400 people outdoors at the Kamehameha Court, where it presents the "Legends of the Pacific" review. A buffet dinner provides samplings of Hawaiian food as well as fish, beef, and chicken dishes that appeal to all tastes. Admission includes two cocktails. www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com.
The Fairmont's "Gathering of the Kings Polynesian Feast" offers the most bang for your buck. The show is slickly produced and well choreographed, incorporating both traditional and modern dance and an array of beautiful costumes. The meal offers the most variety of any island luau, with four buffet tables representing New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Samoa. www.fairmont.com/orchid.
See authentic Tahitian dancing and a dramatic fire-knife performance at the Island Breeze Luau, an oceanfront event that features live music and a bounty of food including kalua pig cooked in an authentic underground imu. It's staged on the grounds of the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. www.islandbreezeluau.com.
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