Halloween’s Hallowbaloo Happs in Hawaii

Boo! Move aside, Waikiki! The Hallowbaloo Music + Arts Festival is quickly taking over as Oahu’s new Halloween hotspot. The annual event always brings out the best in Hawaii’s Halloween hipsters; Kim Kardashian learns to dance from a Yo Gabba Gabba while sumo barbie gets wizardry tips for Albus Dumbledore. It’s the FOURTH year of the FOUR-day shindig, making the number FOUR the new lucky 13 for this ghoulish event. And it continues to get bigger and better, with attendance growing by a few thousand every year.

I spy the Hulk. Chinatown’s streets get packed with interesting characters at Hallowbaloo 2010.

The fest happens all over town, from the Aloha Tower Waterfront to the Chinatown district and ending at Kaimana Beach. It’s so much more organized and expansive than the unofficial Waikiki gathering that everyone usually dresses up for. Let’s be honest, that one’s a bit played out already, with too many people crammed into one sidewalk at one time. Plus, there’s no real purpose but to stand around, eyeing out each other’s costumes and looking cute/sexy/scary/freaky (or all of the above). Revelers can still be just as cute/sexy/scary/freaky in Chinatown but with live music, art galleries and outdoor food and alcohol vendors. The best part: having more breathing room…literally! Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues in Waikiki get some major booty-to-booty traffic jams on Halloween night, with Kung Fu Panda rubbing up against Hawaii Five-0’s Steve McGarrett and so forth; it’s not a pretty sight. Not to mention, the brutal toe-squashing for those not wearing covered shoes! Ouch!

Thousands will most likely choose Chinatown over Waikiki and to parade around in their tricked-out outfits. But the real treats in this candy bag are the musical performances during Hallowbaloo. This year’s fest has some acoustical sweets from indie groups like Warpaint and the New Mastersounds. The fest keeps with the “Support Local” mantra, or in this case, “Support Local Performers,” and brings to the stage Hawaii-grown musicians like Mike Love and The Deadbeats. Speaking of stages, there will be six of them throughout the streets of Chinatown on Saturday night, each with a variety of performers.

A referee gets a “hand” at last year’s Hallowbaloo street festival.

It’s so nice to see Chinatown making a comeback and finally finding a place in the community. For decades, it’s been uncharted territory for most Oahu residents and tourists. The only reason I ever went there growing up was to buy lei for graduation season. That was it. I honestly never thought of exploring the areas beyond the Beretania Street flower shops. But thanks to organized events like First Fridays, Octoberfest and now Hallowbaloo, this historic part of the island gets pushed into the present-day through a revitalization that continues to illuminate the area for people to appreciate.

The last day of Hallowbaloo is probably the best day for the young ones to come out. I wouldn’t recommend Thursday to Saturday’s festivities for kids (it’s more of a grown-up thing), but Sunday will be much more family-oriented with a true kanikapila session (Hawaiian-style jamming) at the foot of Diamond Head. It’s soulful serenaders with Hawaii roots will soothe the Hawaiian sun to sleep during Sunday’s golden hour and wrap up this year’s H-A-L-L-O-W-B-A-L-O-O-O-O-O-O!!

Here’s the four-day spread of tricks and treats:

Hallowbaloo Electronica Pre–Party (Map)
Where: Nextdoor, 43 N. Hotel St.

When: Oct. 27; doors open at 9 p.m.

Cost: $10 pre-sale

Hallowbaloo Kick–Off Concert (Map)
Where: The Waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace

When: Oct. 28; doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 general admission; $40 VIP

Hallowbaloo Street Festival (Map)
Where: Nuuanu Avenue

When: Oct. 29; 5-10 p.m.

Cost: Free; $10 wristbands

Hallowbaloo Kanikapila (Map)

Where: Kaimana Beach Park

When: Oct. 30; 3-6 p.m.

Cost: Free

HALLOWBALOO MUSIC + ARTS FESTIVAL • Tonight to Sunday (See above schedule and maps) • www.hallowbaloo.com • info@hallowbaloo.com • Street and municipal parking available; Near bus routes

Photo Credit: Hallowbaloo

Posted by: Bruce Fisher