It’s as close as you can get to Hawaii without a six- or seven-hour plane ride.
The Arizona Aloha Festival brings the sights, sounds and flavors of the islands to Tempe Beach Park this weekend.
The 18th annual event features more than 30 performance groups on three stages — everything from storytellers, Tahitian drummers and slack-key guitarists to ancient and modern hula, and dances from the Samoa, Tonga and Maori cultures.
Make-and-take activities for children, available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, include paper flower leis, stamped notecards and mini poi balls.
Chongka — a board game using shells or stones — will be played at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. There are also demonstrations on making leis from candy and making “kupe’e” wristlets from ferns, and a coconut-grating contest.
Spectators are invited to play, sing, dance or simply listen in a “Kanikapila” area reserved for informal music enjoyment. Musicians will teach simple chords and strumming techniques at Aunty Aloha’s Ukulele Corner, and you can learn how a traditional Hawaiian Ipu Heke drum is made of gourds and take home seeds to grow your own.
A food court and marketplace of more than 100 vendors feature tropical dining and shopping.
Two trips to Hawaii, including roundtrip air on Hawaiian Air and five nights’ lodging at the Sheraton Waikiki or the Aston Paki Maui, will be raffled. Tickets are $5 a piece.
Admission is free. Pop and bottled water cost $1. The event is alcohol free.
The festival is put on by Arizona Aloha Festivals, Inc., an all-volunteer local non-profit whose purpose is to provide awareness and education about Hawaiian and other South Pacific Islander culture and heritage.
DETAILS >> 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Free. (602) 697-1824 or www.azalohafest.org.