Event Finds: Waikiki
Strumming along since 1971, the Ukulele Festival Hawaii has been bringing the joy of Hawaiian music to island residents and visitors for dozens of years. Striking the perfect note every July, Ukulele Festival Hawaii is the largest ukulele festival of its kind in the world, attracting thousands of spectators as well as guest artists and an enormous ukulele orchestra of more than 800 ukulele students. The complimentary concert at the Kapiolani Park bandstand in Waikiki is now an annual summer tradition for local families who make a day out of it, grabbing their blankets, lawn chairs and coolers for a picnic at the park.
A member of the guitar family of instruments, the ukulele (pronounced oo-koo-leh-leh) is a 19th century instrument brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants where it quickly gained popularity. Ukulele Festival Hawaii organizer and well-known ukulele musician Roy Sakuma and his wife Kathy have dedicated their lives to sharing the joy of this local instrument through lessons, festivals and community events.
Follow your ears and the sweet sounds of the uke to enjoy internationally and well-known celebrity musicians, food booths, ukulele displays, giveaways and lessons. Grammy award-winning artist James Ingram is a regular face at the festival since 1994 when he and Roy Sakuma met and collaborated on the Ukulele Festival Hawaii's theme song, "Come and Join Us," which was later honored with the Hawaii Music Award's single of the year award. While the Ukulele Festival has since taken to the road to include shows on Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui, the original is still considered by many - the best.