Timing a visit to Hawaii with an upcoming festival or event is a great way to enhance your holiday experience. The Big Island has a full calendar of events, with cultural exhibitions, competitions and a few fun spectator events that help visitors integrate with the community at large.
Kona and Kohala host most of the events Big Island Hawaii, if only because this is where tourists spend most of their time. The resorts north of the airport host major events from PGA golf tournaments to film festivals. These events see local hotels booking up quickly.
Several other mainstream events are held in Kailua-Kona. These are major festivals that foster a strong international audience, and they include the Ironman World Championship and the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. The scene across the island in Hilo is more artsy, with a greater emphasis on old Hawaiian culture, hula and artwork.
These are a few of the best Big Island events staged on the island each year:
- PGA Golf Championship – this link in the PGA tour is staged at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Golf Club.
- Big Island Hilo International Marathon – this scenic race follows the old Hawaiian coastline on the Hilo side of the Big Island.
- Merrie Monarch Hula Festival – another Hilo event, weeklong festival has been on calendars for almost 50 years and represents one of the best times and places to enjoy authentic Hawaiian song and dance.
- Big Island Film Festival – hosted by the Mauna Lani Resort, this growing film festival lasts five days.
- Parker Ranch Independence Day Rodeo – held every Fourth of July, this rodeo showcases the skills of the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy).
- Billfish Tournament – for half a century, the Hawaiian Billfish Tournament has been pitting the world’s best fishermen against Hawaii’s blue marlin.
- Aloha Festival – the Aloha Festival is the year’s most important showcase of all things Hawaiian. The event lasts through most of September.
- Queen Lili’uokalani Outrigger Canoe Race – as the largest long-haul paddling race for outriggers, this event challenges the skills of 2,500 competitors from all over the world.
- Ironman World Championship Triathlon – nearly 2.5 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and a marathon’s worth of running culminate on the finish line near Kailua Pier. This is a well-attended annual event.
- Kona Coffee Cultural Festival – this event kicks off with a lantern parade and goes on to include a cupping contest, a picking contest and dozens of exhibits and side events.
- Moku O Keawe Festival – held at Waikoloa Resort, this event includes culture workshops, a hula competition and concerts.
- Holualoa Festival of Light and Music – tucked into the heart of Kona’s coffee country, this festival offers a charming way to ring in the holidays.