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‘Hula From The Heart’

Hālau hula gather from all over the state to perform for the 45th Prince Lot Hula Festival including Hālau Lilia Makanoe and Ke Kai O Kahiki PHOTO COURTESY MOANALUA GARDENS FOUNDATION


The Prince Lot Hula Festival, the largest non-competitive hula festival in the islands, returns for its 45th anniversary and will feature 12 hālau hula from around the state.

What started with a performance on the flatbed of a truck has evolved into an event where thousands come together to join in the love of hula and Hawaiian tradition.

The Prince Lot Hula Festival returns with its 45th celebration, and will air on KHON2 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3. Presented by the Moanalua Gardens Foundation, it features 12 hālau hula from all over the state.

Hālau hula gather from all over the state to perform for the 45th Prince Lot Hula Festival including Hālau Lilia Makanoe and Ke Kai O Kahiki PHOTO COURTESY MOANALUA GARDENS FOUNDATION

The festival is the brainchild of founder Nalani Olds and the foundation’s first executive director, Anna Derby Blackwell, with the assistance of Olds’ cousin Wendell Silva, who wanted to create an event that would show support for the community. “The hula festival is all about sharing. It wasn’t about competition,” explains Pauline Worsham, managing director of Moanalua Gardens Foundation. “It was about sharing their love for hula and sharing their love to perform hula for the public.

“I like to call it hula from the heart.”

Although the festival had to be presented virtually over the past couple of years due to the pandemic, the public can expect it to return to its full glory in 2023, which will be a hybrid performance of both in-person and virtual showings.

“Over the years, I’ve seen how our sharing of hula and the love for hula resonates with the audience,” says Worsham, who has been coordinating the festival for the past 17 years. “It really is those moments where performers can connect with the audience that makes the Prince Lot Hula Festival a very special event.”

This year’s show, titled Laukanaka Ka Hula, which translates to “multitudes of hula people gather,” will take place at the historic Queen Emma Summer Palace. There, 12 hālau hula will present a mixture of kahiko and ‘auana dances.

“Kumu hula love to participate in the festival because they can bring everybody. They can bring their 3-year-olds to 73-year-old; from keiki to kūpuna,” explains Worsham. “That’s what’s so heartwarming about the Prince Lot Hula Festival, that everybody who loves hula can participate.”

The festival is named after Prince Lot Kapu‘aiwa, who served as King Kamehameha V from 1863 to 1872, and kept the tradition of hula and chant alive despite it being illegal to perform in public.

That resiliency and determination to not let the Hawaiian culture die is the heart of what the festival represents today — more than four decades later.

“When we started the Prince Lot Hula Festival, we named it after Prince Lot to continue that legacy of hula and chanting, and preservation of our hula traditions,” says Worsham.

“It’s been a real honor to see the growth of the festival over the years and see the thousands of people to come, learn and participate in our culture, and really be grounded in an experience they would have not otherwise been exposed to.”

The festival will be livestreamed on KHON2 and rebroadcast on KHON2 and sister stations KHII and CW. For more information, visit moanaluagardensfoundation.org/prince-lot.

“Hula is life, and is really woven into the fabric of our entire community. To be able to watch 12 hālau perform during this spectacular show is going to be a very exciting experience for everyone,” says Worsham.