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Such a problem – so many festivals that visitors on a Hawaii vacation need help to find them all. But there are just that many celebrations and now there is a phone app that tracks them.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has launched the “Festivals of Hawaii” app. It is available free to download on iTunes for iPhone, iPod and iPads. It is the first smartphone application for the state’s official tourism agency and provides details on more than 100 events throughout the islands.
HTA president and CEO Mike McCartney says the app not only delivers helpful information, it also shares “our unique island experiences and provides a taste of our rich cultural persity to the world.” (quoted in the HTA news release)
When the app is opened, it allows users to see what is happening that day by selecting from six Hawaiian islands: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii (also known as the Big Island). Although the state of Hawaii has eight major islands, Niihau is closed to visitors and Kahoolawe is uninhabited.
It is possible to search from among 12 categories, such as “Hawaiian” for music and culture or “Cuisine” for food and wine events. One category is “Ethnic Culture” and it lists non-Hawaiian cultural events including Korean, Japanese, Chinese and more. This is the category of festivals that surprised me the most when moving to Hawaii. These are so fun because they are put on by locals celebrating their heritage and they offer a cultural snapshot through food, art, music and dance. Each listing also provides a profile with a brief description of the event.
Perhaps the most useful to visitors or newcomers, the app helps you to actually FIND the festivals once you decide to go. A “near me” button displays events close to you and “directions” pulls up a Google map so you can use GPS to plot a course from your location to the event.
The HTA says this is the first phase of mobile app development. It includes only festivals and events sponsored by HTA. The next phase is projected to launch the end of this year or early next year. It should add android-compatibility and will widen the search to include other events in the islands — because there are even more than 100 fun events each year in Hawaii!