Since its start in 2008, the annual Hallowbaloo Music & Arts Festival has been among the most popular Halloween events in Hawaii. By signing acclaimed national and international artists, and by showcasing Hawaii’s most talented musicians and bands, Hallowbaloo has become one of Hawaii’s most anticipated street festivals, for residents and visitors alike. This year, it takes place on October 25.
Upwards of 20,000 people attend Hallowbaloo each year. Taking place in the Chinatown Arts District (a 10-minute bus ride from Waikiki), the street festival sprawls over four blocks, with multiple performance stages, roaming bands of street performers, and a variety of food vendors. The atmosphere is international, smaller than Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnivale in Brazil, but no less exotic, colorful, and spirited.
Planning for Hallowbaloo is a year-round undertaking. The logistics are daunting. Permitting, staffing, sponsorship, vendor selection…getting it all done is itself a sort of performance art. It takes an uncommon dedication. That dedication is reflected in the festival’s continued success.
Back in 2012, the commitment of organizers was put to the test. A powerful earthquake in Canada prompted a tsunami threat that shut down pretty much all of Honolulu, including Hallowbaloo. The thousands of revelers that had turned up were turned away by police in a mandatory evacuation. Organizers were helpless as they watched a year’s work, and thousands of hours of effort come to naught. Hawaii ended up sustaining negligible damage caused by small, localized fluctuations in sea levels.
Undaunted, organizers went back work immediately, doggedly planning the 2013 event, which went off without a hitch and set the bar for Hallowbaloo in 2014 even higher.
And, as this year’s lineup has just been announced, it looks like organizers are again up to the task. Big Freedia the “Queen of Bounce” (a sub-genre of hip-hop with its roots in New Orleans), is scheduled to headline, with David Lindley, who has performed with most of the pantheon of modern music greats, sharing the bill. A host of Hawaii’s premier jazz, rock, and Americana performers will take to the multiple stages, with burlesque and gamelan dancers also in the mix.
The organizers of Hallowbaloo are involved in the arts in Honolulu year-round, and the festival has become an integral part of the Arts District calendar. It’s a safe, family friendly event that provides a flight of fancy for attendees. And while there is sure to be a fair amount of wandering zombies, what makes Hallowbaloo unique as a Halloween event is its exotic, international atmosphere.
Visitors can check the website for artist, performer, and vendor information: