Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Mōʻiliʻili Summer Fest
It’s time to celebrate the vibrant culture of one of Honolulu’s most historic and diverse neighborhoods at the Mōʻiliʻili Summer Fest. Here’s everything you need to know about the 8th annual event.
This post was originally published online on July 3, 2018. It was updated on June 21, 2019.
Photos: Tien Enga
The eighth annual Mōʻiliʻili Summer Fest will have you feasting on street grinds and dancing the night away in the middle of Obon season. You’ll find games for the keiki, food trucks galore and pop-up shops from local businesses for the whole family.
What It Is
Call it Eat the Street meets bon dance, the Mōʻiliʻili Summer Fest began as a family-friendly dining, shopping and cultural experience to celebrate the diversity and history of Mōʻiliʻili. Remembering the Japanese and Hawaiian roots of one of Honolulu’s oldest neighborhoods, the event also boasts Honolulu’s largest bon dance.
The event is organized by the Mōʻiliʻili Hongwanji Mission, Kamehameha Schools, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi, Mōʻiliʻili Community Center and University of Hawaiʻi.
Learn about Tanabata (the holiday on the seventh day of the seventh month), write a wish on a strip of paper and hang it on a bamboo tree from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi. Decorate an uchiwa, Japanese round fan, to use during the night. The Mōʻiliʻili Community Center will also display historic photos of Mōʻiliʻili’s Hawaiian, Hawaiian-Chinese and Japanese-American residents. Order a reprint of the book, Mōʻiliʻili–The Life of a Community, while you’re browsing.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Mō‘ili‘ili Summer Fest
Where and When
Save the date! Festivities start at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 6 and end at 10 p.m. Head to the old Varsity Theatre parking lot at 1100 University Ave. near Coyne Street.
Where to Park
Street parking is available but fills up quickly. You can park for free at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Lower Campus Road parking structure. Enter the structure, located at 1323 Lower Campus Road, from Dole Street, let the gate attendants know you’ll be attending the Mōʻiliʻili Summer Fest and you’ll receive a parking ticket to display.
Shuttles will pick you up next to the parking structure from 4–10:30 p.m. or you can take a 10-minute stroll down University Avenue to the festival. The last shuttle will depart from the parking structure at 9:30 p.m. and the last from the festival at 10:15 p.m.
If you don’t feel like driving, use bus routes 4, 1 and 1L or your choice of ride-hailing app. There are also a few Biki stops nearby.
How Much It Costs
Admission is free, but bring some cash to indulge in all of the eats and leave when you feel a food coma coming on.
What to Eat and Buy
Though the bon dance is a big part of this event, expect more than just delicious traditional Japanese food and crafts. The event has an impressive lineup of 25 food booths and 25 pop-up shops. If you are looking for your andagi fix, don't worry, it will be available, but you should be ready to wait in one of the longest lines at the event.
Bring lots of cash! Though there is an ATM available and several vendors that take credit cards, some will be cash only.
If you’re feeling festive, don’t forget your Japanese attire to participate in the bon dance.
Expect a warm summer evening, but in the event of a light drizzle, bring a jacket just in case.
Be patient. With the variety of food options, expect a line.
Air-conditioned trailer bathrooms will be on site (thank goodness).
For more information, visit moiliilisummerfest.com.