Your Ultimate Guide to the 2017 ʻUkulele Festival Hawai‘i

The 47th annual ʻUkulele Festival Hawai‘i takes place this Sunday, July 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kapi‘olani Park Bandstand in Waikīkī.
Ukulele players
Photos: Courtesy of the ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai‘i


Follow the beautiful sounds of strumming to the 47th annual ʻUkulele Festival Hawai‘i this Sunday, July 16 at the Kapi‘olani Park Bandstand in Waikīkī. This free one-day event is one of the largest international ʻukulele festivals. Celebrate the joyful sounds of Hawai‘i’s favorite instrument with performances by musicians from around the world, legendary local celebrities and ‘ukulele instructor Roy Sakuma’s 700-student orchestra.


Head down from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. for a chance to win an ‘ukulele, check out the displays, appreciate the ‘ukulele’s unique sound and hit the food booths.


SEE ALSO: Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend: July 14–16, 2017


Ukulele festival



The festival attracts locals, tourists, ʻukulele enthusiasts, performers and everyone in between. Organizers expect about 20,000 people to attend.



Originally invented in Portugal and introduced to the Islands in the 1870s, the ʻukulele has become a defining source of Hawaiian music. The instrument that first became a big hit with the people of Hawaiʻi has now grown in popularity worldwide.




Some of Hawaiʻi’s biggest and best ʻukulele makers will display their ʻukulele at the festival and offer free ʻukulele giveaways. For beginners who are still learning, make sure to take advantage of the free ʻukulele lessons at the festival. 


SEE ALSO: Meet the Hawai‘i Family That Makes the World’s Most Famous ‘Ukulele



The festival’s star-studded lineup brings together performers from around the world to celebrate their love of the ʻukulele. Hosted by Hawai‘i’s ambassador of aloha Danny Kaleikini, the festival will feature local ‘ukulele virtuosos including the world’s most prolific ‘ukulele recording artist Herb “Ohta-San” Ohta, multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner Herb Ohta Jr. and one of Hawai‘i’s most versatile entertainers, Willie K.


Herb Ohta Jr
Herb Ohta Jr.


Inspiring ‘ukulele musicians Nick Acosta, Kamakakehau Fernandez, award-winning Mānoa DNA and the Kamehameha Schools Performing Arts Academy Hawaiian Ensemble will also draw crowds to the festival stage. Hear classic Beatles songs played on the ‘ukulele by Beat-Lele Mania! and tunes that you’d never expect to be played on the ‘ukulele by the Roy Sakuma ‘ukulele band of 700 students ranging in age from 5 to 85.


The festival also recognizes the ‘ukulele’s growing popularity worldwide, featuring performances by the Northern Virginia ‘Ukulele Society, Ukestralia of Australia, the Langley ‘Ukulele Ensemble of 19- to 21-year-olds from Canada, the Apollon Ukl Ensemble from South Korea, and ‘Ukulele Heaven from New Zealand.


Many festival performers come from Japan, which has a large ‘ukulele following. See performers Fulare-Pad from Kyoto, Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner Ryo Natoyama, the Nihon ‘Ukulele Association and the Yamaha Music School of ‘Ukulele.


Japanese ukulele players


For specific times and details, check the ‘Ukulele Festival’s program schedule.



Don’t worry about the hassle of parking in Waikīkī. The festival provides free parking and shuttle service from Kapi‘olani Community College, just a few minutes away. The shuttle service begins at 7:30 a.m. at KCC and ends at 5:45 p.m. at Kapi‘olani Park. The bus also has baggage compartments for bulky items including strollers, lawn chairs and coolers.



Come hungry because the ‘Ukulele Festival will have food booths from Barefoot Beach Café, Flavors of the World, Four Caterers, Guava Smoked Foods, Olay’s Thai Food Express, Taste of the Wild, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and Time to Grind. Don’t forget to save room for dessert from Aloha Scoops, Ha‘aha‘a Shaved Ice and Leonard’s Malasadas.


SEE ALSO: The 8 Best Things To Do in July 2017



Since 2004, the ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai‘i College Scholarship Program has helped lift the financial burden for students who are passionate about the ‘ukulele and contribute to the community. Scholarships are funded by ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai‘i, a nonprofit that hopes to increase awareness and interest in the ‘ukulele as an instrument of virtue, and promote Hawai‘i’s arts and culture through quality education, college scholarships and annual festivals.