In just four months, hundreds of Tikiphiles will swarm the historic Mai-Kai restaurant and beachside B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau on June 3-7. But first, they need to score tickets and passes for the whirlwind weekend of retro-themed festivities.
UPDATE: The Surfrajettes, Eddie Angel, The Hi-Risers to headline The Hukilau 2020
Rooms at the former Yankee Clipper hotel, a famous property that dates back to the mid-century, are filling up fast. [See previous story] The Mai-Kai is already accepting reservations for its popular dinner shows on Saturday, June 6, when The Hukilau’s villagers turn out in full force and typically sell out several seatings of the Polynesian Islander Revue.
Tonight, The Hukilau will lauch an updated website around 7 p.m. Eastern time, opening up sales of multi-day passes and tickets to popular symposiums, rum tastings, cocktail and craft classes, and reserved seats for special swimshows featuring Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid in the hotel’s Wreck Bar.
The event space at the B Ocean (or “The B” as some like to call it) is more intimate than the expansive Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, home to The Hukilau from 2015 through 2019. So it would not be a bad idea to jump on passes and tickets now.
The Hukilau 2020 will be held June 3-7 at the B Ocean Resort and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring live music and retro-themed performances, educational symposiums, vendor marketplace, rum and Tiki cocktail classes, plus 20 top Tiki bars and bartenders from around the world.
* TheHukilau.com | Facebook: Page and Group | Instagram
Many of the key performers, including the headlining bands, are being kept tightly under wraps until today’s reveal. But we were able to squeeze a few details out of The Hukilau’s master planner, Richard Oneslager, and will share what we know below. Check back later for a full preview.
Here then, are 10 things you need to know about The Hukilau 2020 as passes and tickets go on sale:
1. PASSES: There are several changes to the multi-day pass structure from past years to streamline and make everything a bit less confusing, Oneslager said. Gone is the Big Kahuna pass, leaving three options:
* South Seas pass (5 days): The top-tier pass with the most benefits is virtually unchanged from past years. South Seas passholders have access to all five days of the event, including Wednesday’s pre-party at The Mai-Kai. They also get free entry plus food and drinks at Thursday’s two special ticketed events, a cocktail pass for Friday’s High Tide Party, and other exclusive benefits.
* Aloha Pass (4 days): This Thursday through Sunday pass includes the Tiki Treasures Bazaar and pool parties featuring free cocktails, admission to the High Tide Party, and more.
* Beachcomber Pass (3 days): Formerly known as the Luau Pass, the change was made to avoid confusion with the special event added this year (more on that below). Beachcomber passholders receive admission Friday through Sunday, including the bazaar, pool parties, and High Tide Party.
More details on passholder benefits will be revealed on the website. Note that one- and two-day passes may not be offered later if all of the multi-day passes listed above sell out.
2. ARTISTS: The official artist for 2020 is Chicago-based lowbrow illustrator Mitch O’Connell. His flamboyant and colorful artwork can be found everywhere, from major national magazines and newspapers, to album covers of legendary bands, to major advertising campaigns, to fine art galleries around the world. His work is also popular in the tattoo world, with many of his designs appearing in two best-selling books. In addition to the 2020 promotional artwork, O’Connell is designing The Hukilau’s official mug and will likely make appearances during the event. Other artists worth mentioning are Tiki Diablo, who is once again producing distinctive barware for Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy students; and Tiki Tony, who will create a small carving for South Seas passholders.
3. LUAU ON THE BEACH: With Pier Sixty-Six under extensive renovations for several years, The Hukilau is losing one of its signature events. Replacing the Tiki Tower Takeover, which was held in the rotating 17th floor ballroom of the space-age hotel, is something a bit more traditional and Tiki-centric. Thursday night’s headlining event is now a traditional luau on the B Ocean Resort’s private beach. Tickets will be sold a la carte, along with an option of food and/or drinks. South Seas passholders get everything included.
4. BANDS AND MUSIC: The 2020 lineup will be true surf o’ rama, with many top names in the instrumental genre making an appearance. While we’re sworn to not reveal the names of the headliners, we can drop a few hints. Expect to see two members of a certain masked quartet rocking out at The Hukilau with their own solo bands. A group from Argentina with a record on a New Jersey label will make its first visit to The Hukilau. And returning after a two-year absence is a Canadian combo that has skyrocketed in popularity on the heels of its viral videos. One other newcomer hailing from North Carolina will provide more exotic sounds. Supporting these special guests will be The Hukilau’s usual stellar lineup of Florida favorites: The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, Gold Dust Lounge, and Skinny Jimmy Stingray. Also returning for the 19th straight year is The Hukilau’s one and only master of ceremonies, King Kukulele. Spinning music at the pool parties and other events will be several returning guests (Brother Cleve and DJ Hi Tide) plus several new faces (including Matt Marble of The Hula Girls).
5. RUM AMBASSADOR: Ian Burrell, the founder of The UK RumFest and global spokesman for cane spirits, is back for a fourth straight year. Look for the busy Burrell to host his usual assortment of rum tastings and symposiums.
New symposium at The Hukilau 2020: ‘How The Mai-Kai Perfected the Modern Tiki Cocktail’ NEW
Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog blog and some very special guests explore the passing of the torch from Don the Beachcomber to The Mai-Kai’s Bob and Jack Thornton in 1956, and the key role of master mixologist Mariano Licudine in keeping Don’s historic Tiki cocktails alive and thriving for 63 years.
>>>> Ticket info and more on this symposium at The Hukilau 2020
6. SYMPOSIUMS & CLASSES: The schedule will include a variety of educational symposiums, craft classes, and Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy curriculum. Cocktail pioneer and music historian Brother Cleve will talk about the history of exotica, while New York City bartender Garret Richard will introduce villagers to cutting-edge bartending concepts and techniques. The Atomic Grog is back with an all-new presentation on the The Mai-Kai (see link above), and for the first time, some of the cocktail academy classes will be held inside a working bar (the B Ocean Resort’s storied Wreck Bar). Look for several new presenters and instructors, along with the return of craft classes by South Florida artists Will Anders and Tom Fowner. A new craft class will give villagers the opportunity to glaze their own Tiki mug with John Mulder of Eekum Bookum, while Crazy Al Evans takes over as instructor of the black velvet painting class.
7. MARINA & HER SWIMSHOWS: The most recognizable mermaid in Tiki has home-field advantage for the first time since The Hukilau last pitched a tent at the Yankee Clipper in 2013, so expect to see lots of special performances in The Wreck Bar. Due to the small capacity, these almost always sell out, so you don’t want to snooze on these tickets. There should be at least three exclusive shows for villagers, including a Hukilau-only performance of Thursday night’s underwater male burlesque show, aka The Aquamen. This will provide a nice counterpoint to the Thursday night Tiki A Go-Go party, featuring the return of burlesque queen Angie Pontani.
8. HOTEL ROOMS: The Hukilau room block at the B Ocean went live Dec. 23, and within weeks was almost completely booked. The room block has been expanded, Oneslager said, but if those sell out, rooms should be available directly through the hotel (at a less preferable rate) . “A hotel with enough guest rooms to accommodate our growing ohana was the most important criteria in choosing our new home,” Oneslager said. He advises reaching out to Aloha@TheHukilau.com to inquire about future releases or a waiting list if you’re looking for the special rate. Otherwise, rooms should still be readily available (at least for a while) by booking directly through the hotel or via third-party discount sites. If you’re looking for a lower-cost alternative, the neighboring Best Western, a Hukilau host hotel in 2012, should have availability. It’s a very short walk to the B Ocean, and some rooms even overlook the B Ocean pool where many of The Hukilau’s festivities will be centered. Also note that hotel reservations are not required to purchase passes or tickets to any of the weekend events. And locals are always welcome.
9. POP-UP BARS: The lineup is still being finalized, but you can expect many of the favorites from years past to make the trek to Fort Lauderdale, along with a few newcomers. Among the roughly 20 top bar teams from around the world expected to be slinging signature drinks are crews from Death or Glory (Delray Beach, Fla.), Dirty Dick (Paris), Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh), Pagan Idol (San Francisco), Porco Lounge & Tiki Room (Cleveland), The S.O.S. Tiki Bar (Decatur, Ga.), Suffering Bastard (Sanford, Fla.), Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago), Tiki TNT (Washington, D.C.), Tiki Underground (Akron, Ohio), Tonga Hut (Los Angeles), and Zombie Village (San Francisco). More will be announced in the coming weeks. “We are fortunate to have so many great bars wanting to be a part of The Hukilau,” Oneslager said. “We are committed to supporting new bars and giving our villagers the opportunity to meet them and sample their cocktails. We just wish we had more room. There are so many amazing bartenders pouring aloha spirit every day.”
10. THE MAI-KAI: The Polynesian palace on Federal Highway in nearby Oakland Park is always one of the main attractions of The Hukilau, and for good reason. Opened in 1956, months after the Yankee Clipper, it remains in vintage condition and is built to handle crowds the size of The Hukilau (and then some). While official events are limited to Wednesday’s pre-party, Saturday’s main event, and the Sunday finale, villagers are welcome to pop over for a drink or dinner anytime. Check the official website for hours and showtimes for the Polynesian Islander Revue, the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii. Reservations are recommended for the show, or any dinner on busy weekend nights. Request a back dining room if you want to skip the show. The Molokai bar is always open to all, no reservations required. The only exception is Saturday night (June 6), when The Hukilau main event takes over. That night, you must have a multi-day pass to enter and enjoy the bands performing in the bar and Tahiti dining room, though late-night arrivals can sometimes be accommodated.
Stay tuned for further updates.
Photos: 10 highlights from The Hukilau 2019 in Fort Lauderdale
Take a look back at last year’s festivities with dozens of photos and 10 memorable moments from the five days of fun.
The Hukilau past coverage
* 2019: Photos and video from social media
* 2018 social media recap | More highlights
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More highlights
* More recaps: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2002-2008