HONOLULU -- The 12th annual Hula Ho'olauna Aloha festival will once again bring together Japan and Hawai'i in honor of hula's traditional customs and vibrant culture for a weekend-long celebration.

Festivities begin on Saturday, July 6, at Kāhala Mall from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with a hula exhibition featuring 45 performances.

Kumu Manu Boyd, a multi-Nā Hōku Hanohano award winner, will make a special appearance around 12:45 p.m. Boyd is a poet, singer, songwriter and formerly a member of the popular Hawaiian musical group Ho'okena.

The celebration will continue at the The Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Coconut Grove, Sunday, July 7, from noon-6:45 p.m., featuring a hula hālau competition, hula demonstration and Hawaiian craft and products sale.

The Japanese hula hālau competition will start at 2:30 p.m. and will include three solo keiki, 10 solo wahine, one group keiki, two group wahine and four group kūpuna performances, as they compete for the title, "Hula Ho'olauna Aloha 2013."

Performances will be judged by many of Hawai'i's top kumu hula, including Leimomi Ho, Maelia Loebenstein Carter, Colsen Ina Kanei, Ed Collier, Coline Aiu, Meleana Ulrich Manuel, Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and Les Pang.

The public is invited to attend both events free of charge; however, seating at the hula competition is limited to friends and family of participating hālau, and those with a Hawai'i state ID or military ID.

Created in 2002, the festival celebrates Japan's love for the hula in its birthplace, while bridging the two cultures through dance and friendship.

More than 500 dancers, family, friends and hula enthusiasts are expected to attend.