West Hawai‘i is home to an annual schedule of major annual sporting, cultural, music, food and other events and festivals that draw thousands of participants and supporters from the local community as well as attract large numbers of off-island visitors.
Two sporting events, in particular, have helped put West Hawai‘i on the international map. One is the Ironman World Championship held in October, which brings the world’s top triathletes here to compete for the title as top man and top woman in this now-famous endurance event consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.
The second is the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, founded in 1959 and held every July-August. The HIBT is one of the most prestigious international fishing tourneys, where angler teams from many countries compete along the Kona Coast to catch, tag and release the largest Pacific Blue marlin. Other sporting events include the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Senior PGA Golf Tournament in January, the Queen Lili‘uokalani long distance canoe races, Lavaman Triathlon and the Kona Marathon.
Leading the way in cultural events is 30 Days of Aloha each September, amulti-event, Hawaiian cultural heritage celebration showcasing, arts, music, hula, food and parades. Also on tap every November is the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, highlighting Kona’s gourmet crop with a week-long observance of art exhibits, tastings, parades, farm tours and recipe contests. The first Saturday in February brings the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, a celebration of the island’s Japanese traditions and the practice of hanami, the viewing of the beautiful cherry blossoms, at Church Row Park.
Other popular events include the Kona Brewers Festival in March; The Big Island Chocolate Festival in the spring, island-wide Kamehameha Day celebrations and parades in June and numerous choral, musical and other festive holiday events during the Christmas season.
In addition, there are numerous other smaller events, activities and happenings on tap for residents on a weekly and monthly basis – so many that it would be impossible to list, or take part in, them all.