The Festival of the Merrie Monarch

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a cultural event held annually in Hilo, Hawaii, celebrating hula and Hawaiian culture. It is one of the most prestigious hula competitions in the world and attracts participants and spectators from Hawaii and beyond. Here's an overview of the festival:

The Merrie Monarch Festival was founded in 1963 by Helene Hale, then-director of Hawaii's tourism bureau, and George Naope, a respected hula teacher. 

– The festival is named in honor of King David Kalākaua, who was nicknamed the "Merrie Monarch" for his love of music, dance, and Hawaiian culture during his reign in the late 19th century. – The first festival was held in 1964 and featured a hula competition, along with other cultural events.

The highlight of the Merrie Monarch Festival is the hula competition, where hālau hula (hula schools) from Hawaii and other parts of the world compete in various categories. 

The competition includes both traditional hula (hula kahiko), which preserves ancient Hawaiian chants, movements, and traditions, and modern hula (hula 'auana), which incorporates contemporary music and themes. 

– In addition to the hula competition, the festival features cultural exhibitions, craft fairs, music performances, and educational workshops on Hawaiian arts and traditions. – The festival also includes a grand parade through the streets of Hilo, showcasing floats, marching bands, and cultural groups.

Legacy: – The Merrie Monarch Festival has played a significant role in the revival and preservation of Hawaiian culture, particularly the art of hula. – It has become a symbol of pride and identity for the Hawaiian community and serves as a platform for promoting cultural exchange and understanding. – The festival has grown in popularity over the years and has inspired similar hula competitions and cultural events around the world.

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a beloved tradition in Hawaii that celebrates the beauty, grace, and spirit of hula, while honoring the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian islands. It continues to thrive as a testament to the enduring legacy of King David Kalākaua and his vision of preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

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