Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Prince Lot Hula Festival
This year marks the 3rd year in the festival’s 41-year run that it will be held at historic ‘Iolani Palace. Here’s your guide to what to expect, where to park and more.
Photos: courtesy of moanalua gardens foundation
As the largest noncompetitive hula event in the Islands, the Prince Lot Hula Festival has made its mark as a cultural staple. There’s something for everyone in the ‘ohana to enjoy at this year’s 42nd annual event, which takes place Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21—from food, crafts and cultural exhibitions to hula performances by local hālau.
What It Is
The two-day festival features performances by 21 hula hālau, as well as award presentations. The hālau lineup is available online and includes groups from O‘ahu and the Neighbor Islands. You can also peruse a variety of local foods and crafts and Hawaiian exhibitions.
The event began in 1978 as a way to honor Prince Lot Kapuāiwa, who reigned as Kamehameha V, and to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. The move to ‘Iolani Palace from Moanalua Gardens marked a new era in the festival’s history as it returned to the former site of Prince Lot’s home (he lived on the grounds of where the palace now stands).
The nonprofit Moanalua Gardens Foundation organizes the festival each year, with sponsors including the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
When and Where
This year’s festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 21 at the palace. Hula performances will start on both days at 9:30 a.m. after the opening procession by the Royal Order of Kamehameha and award presentations. Entrance to the first floor of the palace will be free during the festival.
Where to Park
There will be no public parking available on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace. The Moanalua Gardens Foundation recommends carpooling or catching the bus. If you are driving, here are some places to park nearby that the foundation website suggests:
Ali‘i Place, 1099 Alakea St., $3 all day
Bishop Square, 1001 Bishop St. (enter on Alakea Street), $5 all day
Harbor Square, 700 Richards St., $5 all day
First Hawaiian Center, 999 Bishop St. (enter on Merchant Street), $5 all day on Saturday only
Kalanimoku Building, 1151 Punchbowl St. (enter on Beretania and Punchbowl streets), free
Department of Health front lot, 1250 Punchbowl St., free
U.S. Post Office, 335 Merchant St., free on Sunday
Metered street parking around the palace (except for reserved meters on Richards and King streets), free on Sunday
How Much It Costs
Admission to the festival is free. If you want to buy food, crafts or anything else, you will need to purchase scrips (cash and credit cards accepted) at the ‘Iolani Barracks, located mauka of the palace near the gate fronting Richards Street. There will be no cash transactions allowed on the palace grounds, except for scrip purchases.
What to Eat and Buy
The festival boasts 30 food and craft vendors, selling everything from shave ice, barbecue chicken, kālua pig nachos, smoothies and coffee to Tahitian pearls, Hawaiian artwork, hats and clothing. If you’re interested in learning more about the Hawaiian culture, head to the seven booths run by cultural practitioners who will be pounding poi, making lei, weaving lauhala and more.
Seating is available on a first come, first serve basis, so bring your own low-lying beach chairs and mats.
Wear comfortable and cool clothing and bring sunscreen (it’s in the middle of the summer and it’s outdoors).
Commercial photography is not allowed.
There will be bathrooms (aka portable toilets) available on the palace grounds.
For more information, visit moanaluagardensfoundation.org.