The Celebrate Micronesia Festival serves as a day for Micronesians living in Hawaii to come together and to share their cultures with others who may not be as familiar. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Celebrate Micronesia Festival 2024 will showcase traditional dance, attire, food, art and more from Micronesia

  • The 10th annual festival will take place on Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bishop Museum

  • The event is family-friendly, and everyone in the community is welcome to attend

The 10th annual festival will take place on Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bishop Museum. 

“I’m just wanting folks on Oahu, in the community, to just come by, visit the booths, check out the festival. It'll be a really amazing time,” said Axel Defngin, who has roots in Yap, which is part of the Federated States of Micronesia. “I'm hoping that it can be a space for us as well as the larger community.”  

Vicky Jade Lukan, a 26-year-old who was born in Yap and went to high school in Chuuk, which is also part of the Federated States of Micronesia, described CMF as a beautiful opportunity to see people dressed in their different cultural attire, to eat Micronesian foods, and to watch dance performances and lei making and weaving demonstrations. 

“The Micronesians, who go there to represent their cultures, they’re always so happy. A large part of the experience for me is seeing them so happy to perform their cultural dance, like they do it smiling. Sometimes they walk up to the stage dancing. I think there’s something special to take out of that about what it means to feel celebrated or to celebrate yourself safely,” said Lukan. 

She also said people can look forward to learning more about different Micronesian people and cultures and how diverse they are. An extensive region in the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia includes the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, and Guam.

“Micronesia is such a diverse place and I think that gets lost a lot of time,” said Lukan. “There’s so many cultures there. There’s so many attires and food and languages.” 

Defngin said Yapese people don’t always wear traditional attire anymore, but he loves the opportunity at the CMF to “go local” and perpetuate Yap’s culture. He said it allows people from Yap to be fully themselves. 

“I’m very proud of our attire. It’s something Yapese are really known for,” said Defngin. 

Women from Yap wear an “oeng” or grass skirt made of hibiscus fibers. Men from Yap wear a “thuw” or loincloth, a “baagiy” or lavalava as a waistband, and "gaal" or hibiscus fibers.

He added that adorning in traditional attire is a strenuous and labor-intensive activity. For example, it can take months to get the hibiscus fibers just right.

Vicky Jade Lukan, a 26-year-old who was born in Yap, weaves a basket with coconut leaves at the Celebrate Micronesia Festival in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Celebrate Micronesia Festival/Makana Delara)

In 2021, Lukan took part in a weaving demonstration at a CMF tent, making baskets out of coconut leaves. She loved that people could watch and ask her to tell them stories about weaving in Micronesia. 

She described weaving a basket as functional and said everyone in Yap can do it. 

“Everyone knows how to do it because people are still very much dependent on land,” said Lukan. “So if you go out into the jungle, you're expected to know how to weave a basket in case you need it.”

Defngin first took part in the festival in 2015, while a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He, along with about 60 other UH Hilo students, attended the festival with the help of a grant through the Pacific Islander Student Center. He remembers feeling gratitude for being invited to the festival and that it made him hope for a better tomorrow.

Now, at age 28, he works with Remathau Community of Hawaii, a nonprofit, which partners with the Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center, to help young people from the state of Yap, who live on Hawaii Island, fly to the festival.    

“It builds this connection for Micronesians across the state,” said Defngin. “We need these kinds of spaces to get together, to talk story, to decompress … to see each other and see we are going through the same thing … (and) for the kids in the diaspora to see their older peers.”

CMF is also designed to be a hybrid event, so that people in Micronesia can watch, speak or take part. Last year, Lukan was in Yap at the time of the festival, so she attended virtually and volunteered to be a moderator for a panel. 

“I like the idea of celebrating Micronesian identities by Micronesians,” said Lukan. She said the festival brings home what it means to be part of the Micronesian community and said it’s especially important for young Micronesians who are away from their home and growing up in the diaspora to feel grounded in their cultural identity. 

“It's just a nice day to just come and meet everyone and just feel like you're part of a larger community and to just appreciate other people's culture and feel appreciated for your own culture,” said Lukan.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke covers the Hawaiian Islands for Spectrum News Hawaii. Email her at