Maui Arts & Entertainment

Aloha Festivals Presents “Nā Mele ‘Ukulele” in Partnership with KHON2

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PC: Aloha Festivals / Instagram

Aloha Festivals has canceled its 2020 main events due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2020, the festival has partnered with KHON2 to produce and air special programming celebrating the legacy of Aloha Festivals including its cultural traditions and performances from local artists.

The Aloha Festivals theme will be included in KHON2’s original programming, including “Modern Wahine Hawaiʻi,” “Sam Choy in the Kitchen,” and “Aloha Authentic” throughout the month of September.

The programming will culminate in the half-hour special “Aloha Festivals: Nā Mele ‘Ukulele” that will air on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m. on KHON2, online at and on KHON2’s YouTube channel. The special will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. on KHII.


“Despite the circumstances we find ourselves in due to the pandemic, we are excited to preserve the festivals’ mission of celebrating the aloha spirit through the culture and traditions of Hawai‘i in a new format,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, co-chair of Aloha Festivals and director – community and cultural relations for Hawaiian Airlines. “Our hope is that this program will bring the spirit of the festival into the home through song and an exploration of the unique traditions of the festival that generations of kama‘āina have celebrated for the last 74 years.”

Aloha Festivals’ 2020 theme is “Nā Mele ʻUkulele – E Hoʻokani Pila Pū Kākou.” Translating to “Songs of the ‘Ukulele – Let’s Make Music Together,” the theme celebrates the ‘ukulele as Hawai‘i’s musical ambassador. The ‘ukulele has shaped traditional Hawaiian music, especially in being used as an accompaniment to hula.

The ‘ukulele also has universal appeal. In the 1920s, it gained worldwide popularity on the silver screen, and its compact size and simple tuning make it an easy instrument for the novice musician to begin his or her melodic journey. Today, the basic quarter note strum associated with traditional ‘ukulele playing has been reinvented into elaborate picking and fast-paced rhythms; creating a new cohort of ʻukulele virtuosos. “Aloha Festivals: Nā Mele ʻUkulele” will showcase the astonishing musical range of the ‘ukulele with performances from some of Hawai‘i’s best musical artists.


Aloha Festivals’ annual, month-long celebration is typically held from late August through September with its three signature events: Royal Court Investiture & Opening Ceremony, Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a, and the Annual Floral Parade.

While Aloha Festivals is a community-supported event made possible through private donations, community sponsors and merchandise sales, the festivals also relied on appropriated funds from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority which will not be available for 2020 due to the decline in Transient Accommodations Tax.

The mission of Aloha Festivals is to foster the aloha spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawai‘i. For more information about Aloha Festivals and for the latest updates about this year’s special KHON2 programming, visit

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