Festivals + Holidays
Kamehameha Day honours King Kamehameha the Great, the Hawaiian King who united the islands of Hawai'i. It is is a public holiday throughout the islands.
Kamehameha Schools Warriors Band and Colour Guard marching in the Kamehameha Day Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez.
Kamehameha Day falls on 11 June. It is a public holiday in Hawai'i, the 50th state of the United States.
Kamehamaha Day honours King Kamehameha the Great, the Hawaiian monarch that unified the islands of Hawai'i, creating the Kingdom of Hawai'i.
The Hawaiian Islands comprise – from north to south – Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. To avoid confusion, the island of Hawai'i, the largest in the Hawaiian archipelago, is often referred to as the Big Island.
Kamehameha Day was established by royal decree of the great grandson of Kamehameha the Great, Kamehameha V, in 1871.
The holiday was observed for the first time the following year. Early celebrations included carnivals and fairs, foot races, horse races, and velocipede races.
Pa'u Queen Riders riding horses in the Kamehameha Day Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez.
Nowadays, Kamehameha Day is celebrated with large floral parades, which are held at various locations through the Hawaiian Islands, and a two day hula competition, which attracts contestants from around the world.
The largest parade is held in the state capital of Honolulu. It starts at Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu and continues past Honolulu Harbor, the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building, the Kakaʻako, Ala Moana, and Waikīkī, ending at Kapiʻolani Park.
Royal Hawaiian Marching Band
Royal Hawaiian Marching Band marching in the Kamehameha Day Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez.
There are colourful floats and marching bands, including the Royal Hawaiian Marching Band, which is the oldest municipal band in the United States.
Dating back to 1901, after the Territory of Hawaiʻi was established, an evening draping ceremony is held at the Kamehameha Statue in front of Aliʻiolani Hale and Iolani Palace on King Street in downtown Honolulu.
Long strands of floral leis are draped from the statue.
Similar ceremonies are held in the Big Island of Hawaií and at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, where a replica of the Kamehameha Statue is situated.
Hawai'i Tourism 101
Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawai'i, is the only Royal Palace in the United States. Photo Credit: Cristo Vlahos.
Hawai'i is one of the world's most popular travel destinations. It has excellent hotels in all price ranges – from modest guest houses to luxurious five star resorts overlooking some of the world's most beautiful beaches.
Hawai'i has some the world's top golf courses, excellent restaurants, and sybaritic spas. Its beaches also offer excellent surfing, outrigger canoeing, snorkling, and other water based sports.
Hawai'i became the 50th state of the United States in 1959. Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States.