Revel in South Pacific island culture in the middle of the desert during the Arizona Aloha Festival. This lively event happens every spring in Tempe, Arizona, drawing people from around the Southwest. For two days, you can soak in the sights and sounds of the islands, try new foods and learn about the ancient cultures that have thrived for millennia. You can even take home a souvenir from the arts and crafts marketplace.
You'll forget you're in the sunny Arizona desert the moment you walk through the gates of the Arizona Aloha Festival: Everywhere you go, the sounds of the islands beckon you closer. The fun starts with the weekend's lineup of performers, and with three stages, there's always something to watch.
Experience the magic of the Hawaiian Islands when you listen to groups like the Desert Strummers or the Sandwich Island Band. Kush County blends a traditional Hawaiian sound with reggae and world music for a truly unique result. Curious about hula dancing? The weekend is filled with performances from Kaimikahu Hale O Hula, Ka Lehua I Milia Hula Halau and more. The Arizona Aloha Festival also brings in other Polynesian performers, including the dance troupe Natia O le Pasefika. Experience Filipino and Polynesian culture during the Mabuhay Dance Group performances.
Between productions, stop by the three different food courts at the festival. Start with the classic Hawaiian plate lunch, which includes macaroni salad, rice and a selection of perfectly roasted meat. Feel like grazing? Try different treats such as manapua, which are steamed buns filled with delicious pork, or Hawaii's famous Spam and rice musubi. Vendors also sell foods from around the South Pacific, including tropical fruits, New Zealand meat pies, island beef stew and Portuguese sausage. Bring your appetite—you'll want to try something from every booth.
Once you're full, head over to the Hale Mana'o House of Knowledge for an interactive South Pacific experience. Here, performers and presenters encourage visitors to try out Tongan drums, try a few hula steps or test out shark-tooth weapons. If you're curious about different cultures, this is a great place to get up close and personal with different traditions. Kids are welcome, and the festival hosts plenty of activities for the whole family.
In the Ohana Village, discover how Arizona is linked to the Hawaiian and Polynesian world. The state's outrigger canoe clubs will be on-site to show off their unique boats. Climb in and find out what it's like to hold a paddle, or talk to local paddlers to find out how they live Hawaiian cultural traditions in the middle of the desert. Other exhibits in the village include island-themed social clubs, student organizations and athletic organizations for sports such as rugby.
One of the most popular spots at the Arizona Aloha Festival is the Island Marketplace. In 2020, there will be more than 140 booths, each selling different items from around the South Pacific. Pick up some Hawaiian snacks for the road or bring home a souvenir bracelet or T-shirt. Many booths offer traditional crafts, including flower leis, bone necklaces and wood carvings. You can even pick up a work of art for your home.
The Arizona Aloha Festival takes place in Tempe, Arizona, at the Tempe Beach Park. Located on the banks of the Salt River, the park is easy to access from anywhere in the city.
The Arizona Aloha Festival doesn't make special provisions for RVers; however, since Tempe is popular with snowbirds, it offers plenty of great places to park your RV. Don't have an RV? Consider renting one from RVshare to try out the RV lifestyle for the weekend. The closest RV parks are located east of the Tempe Beach Park and south of the Salt River. One of the most convenient options is Apache Palms RV Park; it features pull-through sites for big rigs as well as full hookups and amenities like Wi-Fi and a pool. It's also worth checking out Holiday Village RV Park, Green Acres and Citrus Grove RV Park.
Are you thinking of taking a longer RV vacation before or after the Arizona Aloha Festival? Consider the RV campsites located on the edges of the Phoenix metro area; there, you can relax surrounded by the mountains and wild desert landscapes.
About 40 miles northeast of Tempe, McDowell Mountain Regional Park offers 76 sites with electrical and water hookups. After an afternoon at the Aloha Festival, you can try horseback riding, biking and hiking on more than 50 miles of trails. A little to the south, Usery Mountain Regional Park provides 73 campsites that can handle RVs up to 45 feet long. In addition to hiking trails, this park offers a model aircraft flying site and an archery range.
You might want to stay 30 miles west of the Arizona Aloha Festival at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Set next to the Gila River and the Agua Fria River, this park is popular with anglers. You can also go hiking, biking and horseback riding. There are just seven RV sites at Estrella Mountain, so make reservations as soon as possible.
The festival takes place in the Tempe Beach Park, which is located just off Highway 202. In an RV, the easiest way to get to the festival is to take North Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway. However, be aware that since the festival is located in downtown Tempe, parking is extremely limited and tough to navigate in an RV. Your best bet is to park on the edges of the city and take the light rail to the park. Get off at Mill Avenue Station; from there, you only need to walk one block.
Are you bringing bikes? If you're up for a ride, pack them up and cycle to the festival or ride to the nearest light rail station and take your bikes on the train. At the front gate, you can drop off your bike with the festival's free bike valet service. It's staffed by members of the Tempe Bicycle Advisory Group all day, so you can rest assured that your gear is safe.
During the Arizona Aloha Festival, the Tempe Beach Park's parking lot is closed to the public. However, there are two parking garages nearby: the 201 S. Ash Parking Garage and the Hayden Ferry Lakeside Parking Garage. They fill up fast, so plan to arrive early. Keep in mind that these structures are only suited to passenger vehicles. If these garages are full, you'll find plenty of parking lots scattered around downtown Tempe.
If you don't want to pay for parking near the event, another great option is to park at the nearest Valley Metro Park-and-Ride lot and take the light rail to the Mill Avenue Station. These parking lots are free, and you can leave your car all day while you enjoy the festival.
The Arizona Aloha Festival is completely free, so you don't need to worry about getting tickets in advance. Just show up at the gate on the day of the event for easy access. Each food and craft vendor will set its own pricing.
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Please note, this is not the official source of the event information. While we try to be as comprehensive as possible, some details may have changed since the time this article was written. Please confirm final details with the official event page.