The ukulele, perhaps Hawaii’s most popular musical instrument, was first introduced to the island in 1879, when Portuguese immigrants arrived in Honolulu. As one of the more popular legends go, a man of the named Joao Fernandes was so excited to arrive at the islands after a long and exhausting journey that he snatched a friend’s “braginho” (Portuguese name for a four-stringed instrument) and jumped off the boat—playing soothing melodies that mesmerized a crowd of Hawaiians around him. The islanders were specifically amazed at how his fingers jumped like fleas as he strummed away at the chords of his instrument. Hence the name “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea.” Fernandes spent the rest of his life giving lessons to those on the island and the instrument was warmly embraced by just about every islander including David Kalakaua, the reigning King at the time.
And the rest is history…
Today, the ukulele continues to play an integral role in Hawaiian culture. Think about singing Hawaiian songs or dancing the hula without a ukulele accompaniment…(What is life again?) In all seriousness, the ukulele symbolizes the Aloha spirit as well as the island lifestyle.
Lucky for you, the beautiful sounds of the island are coming to Oahu yet again, as Kapiolani Park presents the 45th Annual Ukulele Festival this weekend on Sunday, July 19 from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Visitors and locals alike can enjoy the upbeat island tunes played by internationally known musicians, talented ukulele players from around the world and a talented orchestra of over 800 students made up of mostly children. Yummy food booths, giveaways, ukulele displays and lessons will also be present with free parking and shuttle service for all those in attendance.
Not sure what to expect? Check out some of the highlights from last year’s festival here.