HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the Merrie Monarch Festival fast approaching — it's an exciting time for hula in Hawaii.
Merrie Monarch organizers announced the final list of judges and hula halau for the popular competition Thursday. The 55th Annual Merrie Monarch festival will feature 24 competing groups that will dance it out at the Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium on the Big Island in April.
Judges for the event will be Cy Bridges, Maelia Loebenstein-Carter, Ainsley Halemanu, Nalani Kanakaole, Mae Kamamalu Klein, Piilani Lua and Kalena Silva.
This year's festival will be from April 1 to April 7 and feature an international arts fair, free performances and a hoolaulea or celebration, among other fun surprises.
The Miss Aloha Hula solo competition will be on April 5, followed by group kahiko and auana competitions on April 6 and 7.
The 24 halau, four male, 15 female and five mixed, hail from Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island along with California and Washington. Return competitors include kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho, Chinky Mahoe and Mapuana de Silva.
The full list of halau competing this year are:
- Hula Olana
- O Ka Hanu Lehua
- I Ka Wekiu
- Hula Kealii O Nalani
- Ka La Onohi Mai Haehae
- Na Mamo O Puuanahulu
- O Ka Ua Kani Lehua
- Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea
- Kawailiula, Mohala Ilima
- Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka
- Hula O Napunaheleonapua
- Keala O Kamailelauliilii
- Ke Kai O Kahiki
- Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala
- O Kou Lima Nani E,
- O Kauhionamauna
- O Kamuela
- Ka Leo Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La
- Ka Lehua Tuahine
Last year's overall winner, Ka La Onohi Mai O Haehae of Kaneohe, will also be in attendance.
Tickets for the event opened up Dec. 1 and are completely sold out.