After months of anticipation, delays and uncertainty due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, the 2020 Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival has been canceled. There still remains uncertainty regarding travel availability to and from Hawai‘i County and quarantine restrictions that may be imposed on festival guests. HIMELE's main objective during this pandemic is to protect festival staff, musicians, and guests.
The 2019 Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival originally scheduled for December, 2019, was canceled, then reinstated and rescheduled for February, 2020 at the Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection in Kamuela, Hawai‘i as a Special Edition festival at the Mauna Lani.
This Special Edition festival was held Friday through Sunday, February 7-9, 2020 to help the hotel celebrate its grand re-opening and completion of its $100+ million hotel renovation project that began in October, 2018.
The Special Edition festival featured steel guitar performances by Hawai‘i steel guitar masters, workshops, jam sessions, and Open Stage sessions where amateur and professional Hawaiian Steel Guitarists presented their own program to festival guests.
The festival was presented free to the public by the Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection and the Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE) in association with the Ke Kula Mele Hawai‘i School of Hawaiian Music, with grants and support from corporate partners, and private donors. Partial funding was made possible by Hawaii Tourism.
The date of the 4th annual festival will announced when planners have decided when to hold the festival. Consideration is being given to return the festival to its original November schedule. Dates of the 2nd and 3rd annual festivals were adjusted to accommodate the hotel's renovation project, but delays prevented the 3rd annual festival from being offered in 2019. The Special Edition festival was held in lieu of the 3rd annual festival.