Your Ultimate Guide to the 2018 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 7th annual event.
Photos: Tien Enga
The seventh 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 seven years ago 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 offers Honolulu’s largest bon dance–which has gotten even bigger, with 20 more feet of dance space this year.
The event is put on with the help of Mōʻiliʻili Hongwanji Mission, Kamehameha Schools, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi, Mōʻiliʻili Community Center and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Where and When
Typically falling on the first Saturday of July, this year’s event occurs on July 7 from 5 to 10 p.m. Find all the festivities at 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 and lot. To park at the top floor of the parking structure at 1323 Lower Campus Road, enter 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. There is also a parking lot at 1428 Lower Campus Road that is found on the corner of University Avenue and Dole Street (makai side).
Shuttles will pick up at the corner of University Avenue and Dole Street from 4–10 p.m. or you can take a 10-minute stroll down University Avenue to the festival.
If you don’t feel like driving, use bus routes 4, 1 and 1L or your choice of ride-hailing app.
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 Wear
Expect a warm summer evening, but in the event of a light drizzle or a little tradewind action, bring a light jacket.
Also, if you’re feeling festive, don’t forget your Japanese attire to participate in a little bon dance.
What to Eat
Though the bon dance is a big part of this event, expect more than just delicious traditional Japanese food. From handmade gyoza to fresh farm-to-table local comfort food, this foodie lover’s event has an impressive lineup of 25 vendors offering everything from crepes to smoking drinks. But 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.
Air-conditioned trailer bathrooms will be on site (thank goodness).
Other Summer Fest Fun
Hawaiian Kine Trading Co.
A Mini Farmers Market and Keiki Crafts
Kamehameha schools will offer fresh produce, smoothies and planter boxes for sale from Kawailoa and Otsuji farms and a polymer science craft activity for keiki.
Make a Wish for Tanabata
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.
Relive Mōʻiliʻili’s History
The Mōʻiliʻili Community Center will 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.
Meet the Cherry Blossom Court
Greet the 65th Cherry Blossom Court and learn how to become a contestant while mastering your origami folding.
For the Pups in Your Life
Browse through Hawaiian Humane Society’s new goodies from its pet supply shop and learn about its special programs.
The Church of the Crossroads will be selling handmade soup bowls from the Hawaiʻi Potters' Guild.
Bring lots of cash! Though there is an ATM available and several vendors that take credit cards, some will be cash only.
Don’t be shy, dance the night away! This is the largest bon dance celebration in Honolulu and beginners are welcome.
Be patient. With the variety of food options, expect a line.