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In Hawaii, players will strum their stuff at the Ukulele Picnic

What could be better than hanging with Honolulu locals and listening to ukulele music while enjoying the ocean breezes? You’ll have that option, a great alternative to yet another day at the beach, in mid-February.

The Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii, now in its ninth year, strings together two days of musical activities Feb. 11 and 12. The events are free, but proceeds from the sale of such merchandise as T-shirts and a raffle will help with the building costs for a planned museum that will be devoted to Hawaii’s most beloved instrument.

On Feb. 11, the celebration begins at the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Royal Grove Stage. The shopping center is at 2201 Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki. 

From 10 a.m. until 1:20 p.m., ukulele players, from children to senior citizens, will strum their stuff.

Musicians of varying abilities are welcome. Amateurs from around the world have registered to participate. Hula dancers will also entertain the audience.

Contestants who make it through to the grand finale will perform again at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 at the oceanside Kakaako Makai Gateway Park.

The festivities continue until sunset. The entertainment on two stages will feature well-known uke players from both Hawaii and Japan, where a sister festival is held each year.

The park is at 461 Cooke St. in Honolulu, about three miles from Waikiki’s hotels. Crafts and food will be sold.

A ukulele raffle will help fund the museum planned for the same park. The ukulele museum will be an international showcase for the instrument.

“The ukulele is a symbol of peace, friendship, ohana (family) and love,” event founder Kazuyuki Sekiguchi said in a news release. “[It] embodies the true spirit of aloha.”

Although the instrument is identified with Hawaii, the ukulele (“flea” in Hawaiian) derives from an instrument brought to the islands in the 1870s when the Portuguese came to work in the sugar cane industry.

Info: Ukulele Picnic

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