Want to join us in Waikiki in 2020? Sunday 19 July. Confirmation of performance happens by the end of December 2019. If you’d like to know a little of what goes on there, have a look at our brief 2016 slide night web page.
We really need about twenty people to make it musically worthwhile. So if you think you are interested, please complete the form!
If you don’t know what it is all about, we suggest you read through the following thoroughly. Otherwise you can just fill in the form and we’ll let you know how things develop over the next few months.
Ukestralia Hawai’i – what’s it all about then?
We invite you to become a part of this broad nationwide project where we go to Hawai’i and perform songs which incorporate picked parts, great lead singers and easy chord parts. In our ukestrated performances we endeavour to get beyond the ‘wall of strum’, so that it is inclusive for experienced and new players alike.
Read on if you are interested. In here you’ll find information about our experience so far, what we expect of you (if you wish to join us), what you can expect of us and what you can expect of the festival.
Where and what is the Hawai’i Ukulele Festival?
The Hawai’i Ukulele Festival (started by Roy Sakuma in 1971) is an essential and uniquely Hawai’ian experience for any uke player who likes to travel. To go is a great experience, but to perform there with friends is a real buzz. Some of our members have called it the experience of a lifetime.
It is held in the bandstand in Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, Hawai’i, USA – a ten hour flight from Sydney, Australia. The hotels and beaches of Waikiki are all within walking distance.
In 2020 the festival is being held on Sunday July 19.
But each artist, be they Jake or Ukestralia, only perform for 10 minutes.
It is a great day of local Oahu families bringing their kids to perform in Roy Sakuma’s Ukulele School performances, as well as to see performances from groups from all over the world, including many retiree groups (e.g. from California or Florida), or young gun virtuosic groups from Asia (Korea, Okinawa, Thailand, to name a few) and Europeans (e.g. Dutch, French, Italian)
With so many groups, quick turnaround times and only a ten minute performance window, the festival has to be very well run. A brilliant volunteer team ensures that this happens efficiently.
However there are many food and ukulele-related stalls to keep you entertained and, for the last four years, we have also been asked to do a twenty minute set in the luncheon tent. This lunch tent performance is more low key and not so stressful.
Need more convincing? An added bonus – The Langley Ukulele Ensemble perform free each night
Most years the festival coincides with the annual Hawai’ian visit from Canada’s Langley Ukulele Ensemble. In our opinion they are the best ukulele ensemble in the world (yes, even better than Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain). They perform for free each night in the foyer of the Sheraton Hotel on the beach. We have yet to confirm their dates for 2020.
If you have not seen the LUE (stars of The Mighty Uke movie), have a look at this video.
But wait! There’s more!!
In 2016 and 2017 we organised a 3 hour workshop with Hawai’i’s legendary ukulele teacher, Kimo Hussey. It was superb. We’ll see what we can do for 2019.
Where do I stay? How much will it cost?
You organise all of your own travel arrangements.
Whilst we are happy to provide a bit of advice, we cannot and do not book anything for you.
We do recommend people stay within Waikiki (which is logical), but we also think it is sensible that people go for other reasons than just performing for ten minutes! Many ukestrans have done cruises around the islands, whilst others just content to do a week on the Waikiki strip. It’s silly to just go there for a ten minute performance (that may get rained out – though that has never happened to us).
That being said, there is nothing quite like visiting Hawai’i with the Festival as a centrepiece of your travel plans. And going with friends, family and fellow ukulele players is also really fun.
We usually organise two rehearsals whilst we are there (generally in someone’s hotel public area), and we also try to have at least one meal together with everyone (although this can be difficult if there are a lot of people).
How much does it cost?
Apart from the thousand+ dollars you’ll spend on the holiday, we ask for a relatively small registration fee (per person) to join us for the Ukestralia performance in Hawai’i. We haven’t yet set that, but in previous years it has been less than $100. If you are in Newcastle, then this covers your Hawai’i specific rehearsal fees. If you are not in Newcastle then it covers getting the music and access to the videos and rehearsals in Hawai’i. When you express interest in the form above, we’ll send you an invoice so you can direct deposit into our Australian bank account. In 2017 we had an American join us! So if that happens again we can make other payment arrangements.
One way airfares are from about AUD$300 up. Hotel accommodation can be got from about US$100 per night.
Suggested accommodation and activities
Mark and Jane stay at the Royal Grove Hotel -a very shabby chic hotel right in the heart of Waikiki. It is about USD$100 per night, and the best way to describe it is … ‘if the fridge in the room doesn’t work then they probably have a spare out on the verandah’. We know the names of the staff (Debbie and Donna on reception) and it is owned by the 95 year old Mr Fong. It is probably the most down-market and charming hotel on the strip.
Every Monday night around the pool at the Royal Grove there is a kanikapila with local musicians (pictured). Mr Fong will often join them on ukulele. These same musicians also run the ‘Kanikapila at Da Racks’ just near the police station on Waikiki on Thursday (and maybe Sunday) evenings.
Other than that, Ukestrans have stayed at a myriad of hotels, both luxury (e.g. Hyatt, Sheraton etc.) and the Royal Grove. Wherever you choose to stay, make sure it is not too much of a walk from Kapiolani Park.
The Usual Program of Festival associated Activities
There are some pre-festival associated activities. In previous years this has included.
- Wildest Show In Town Concert at Honolulu Zoo – we have often performed at this.
- Welcome Dinner – in a swanky Waikiki hotel. Buffet dinner, entertainment and door prizes. USD$65 (2016)
- People self-drive to ukulele factories n such.
- The beach. Bars. Restaurants. With new and old friends.
- Free hula lessons at the Royal Hawai’ian Hotel.
We also hear of other opportunities and can spread those around once we get some more details.
So do you think you might want to join us? Fill in the form!