He Hali‘a Aloha No Lili‘uokalani is an all day festival held at Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo in commemoration of the last reigning Queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lili‘uokalani. Lili‘uokalani, Queen of Hawai‘i (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917), was originally named Lydia Kamaka‘eha, and Lydia Liliuokalani Paki. She was also known as Lydia Kamaka‘eha Paki, with the chosen royal name of Lili‘uokalani, and later named Lydia K. Dominis.
The Lili‘uokalani Japanese garden theme was inspired by the queen’s visit to Kyoto, Japan, and was a popular Victorian era design. The park was developed on lands that were once fishponds, swamplands and the Waihonu (turtle) ponds fronting Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani’s home. After extensive renovations, the Lili‘uokalani Gardens were re-opened on September 24, 2000 for the community by the County of Hawaii. The ponds, stone lanterns, pagodas, footpaths, bridges and landscaping are for all to enjoy, blending the Bicentennial Gardens, Urasenke Tea House and the Lili‘uokalani Gardens into one large park. This park has been a community center for many decades, and was the original site of Hilo’s Aloha Week events.
Hula is a major focus throughout the day’s celebration. There is a mass hula which features as many as 450 dancers from various hālau, such as, Hālau Nā Pua Uluhaimalama, Hula Hālau O Hilo Hanakahi, Nā Hula O Ha‘aheo, Hula Hālau O Kou Lima Nani ‘E, Lori Lei’s Hula Studio, Hula Hālau O Kahikilaulani, Hula Hālau O Ka Ua Kanilehua, Nā Po‘e A‘o Hiwa, Judy & Pearls Polynesian Studio, Ke Ola Pono No Nā Kūpuna, Hālau O Ishibashi, Jeans Aloha Studio, Hawaiian Marino, Hula Hālau O Wailele O Kalani, Kawehi O Nā Pua Hula Studio, and Kukulu Kumuhana. Dancers from the State, as well as from Japan, come together to symbolize the Queen’s dream to unite the East and West through cultural exchange and preservation of heritage. While the dancers move in unison to “Lili‘u E” and “Aloha Week Hula”, there is a floral “rain” that shower down to fill the air with the aroma of aloha.
The daylong festivities also commence with a Japanese Tea Ceremony held by the Urasenke Tea Ceremony. The Japanese heritage is also evident through the bon dance and taiko drummer exhibitions that are also held, thus maintaining the bond of East and West.
Many different entertainers, such as, Ho‘okoa, Darlene Ahuna, Russel Mauga & Nahe 2X, Brittni Paiva, Bulla Kailiwai, Waiakea ‘Ukulele Band, Puamae‘ole, Kaiwi, Ku‘uipo Kumukahi, and Marlene Sai honor us with their talent through out the day, allowing the audience to sit, relax, and enjoy together.
Admission to the festivities is free and the County of Hawai‘i has been proud partners with Hawaii Tourism Authority, Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center, KHLO, KBIG, KAPA, Hawai‘i Naniloa Resort, Kamehameha Schools, Aloha Airlines, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Hula Hālau O Kou Lima Nani ‘E, and Meadow Gold to bring this wonderful commemorating event to the residents of Hilo and the State of Hawai‘i.