Exploring Traditional Korean Festivals in Kailua-Kona, HI

Kailua-Kona, located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and rich cultural heritage. While it may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about traditional Korean festivals, this charming town actually has a vibrant Korean community that celebrates their culture through various festivals and events throughout the year.

The Influence of Korean Culture in Kailua-Kona

Korean immigrants first arrived in Hawaii in the early 1900s as laborers on sugar plantations. Over the years, they have established a strong presence in the state, with a significant population residing in Kailua-Kona. As a result, Korean culture has become an integral part of the town's identity, with many Korean-owned businesses and restaurants lining the streets. One of the most significant ways that Korean culture is celebrated in Kailua-Kona is through traditional festivals and events.

These festivals not only bring the community together but also attract visitors from all over the island and beyond.

Korean Festivals in Kailua-Kona

One of the most popular Korean festivals celebrated in Kailua-Kona is the annual Korean Festival. Held every August at the Old Airport Beach Park, this festival showcases various aspects of Korean culture, including food, music, dance, and traditional games. Visitors can sample delicious Korean dishes such as bibimbap and bulgogi while enjoying performances by local dance groups and musicians. Another Korean festival that draws a large crowd is the Chuseok Festival. Celebrated in September or October, this harvest festival is a time for families to come together and give thanks for the year's bountiful harvest.

The festival features traditional Korean games, music, and dance performances, as well as a variety of food stalls serving up traditional dishes. In addition to these larger festivals, there are also smaller events throughout the year that celebrate Korean culture. The Korean Cultural Center of Hawaii hosts monthly events, such as cooking classes and language lessons, to promote Korean culture and heritage.

Preserving Tradition

One of the most significant aspects of these Korean festivals in Kailua-Kona is their ability to preserve traditional Korean customs and practices. Many of these festivals have been passed down from generation to generation and are an essential part of Korean culture. For example, the Chuseok Festival is a time for families to gather and pay respects to their ancestors. During this festival, families visit their ancestors' graves, clean them, and offer food and drinks as a sign of respect.

This tradition is still very much alive in Kailua-Kona, with many families participating in this ritual every year. The Korean Festival also plays a crucial role in preserving traditional Korean music and dance. Many of the performances featured at the festival are passed down from master to student, ensuring that these art forms continue to thrive in Kailua-Kona.

The Impact on the Community

Aside from preserving tradition, these Korean festivals also have a significant impact on the community. They bring people from all walks of life together to celebrate and learn about Korean culture. This not only promotes cultural diversity but also fosters understanding and appreciation for different cultures. The festivals also have a positive economic impact on Kailua-Kona.

They attract visitors from all over the island and beyond, boosting tourism and supporting local businesses. Many of the food vendors at these festivals are small, family-owned businesses, providing them with an opportunity to showcase their cuisine and generate income.


While Kailua-Kona may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about traditional Korean festivals, it is clear that the town has a strong connection to Korean culture. These festivals not only preserve tradition but also bring the community together and have a positive impact on the town's economy. So if you find yourself in Kailua-Kona during one of these Korean festivals, be sure to join in on the celebrations and experience the rich culture and heritage of Korea.

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