UKE EVENTS: Cruises, Festivals, and Workshops for May, June, July, and August

May 5–7, 2017
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England

One of the biggest ukulele festivals anywhere returns to West Yorkshire for its fifth year. Most of the workshops and performances will happen at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, but expect the party to continue at a few locations around town. At the time of this writing organizers are expecting dozens of performers, including Victoria Vox, Ryo Montgomery, Eat.My.Uke, Astraluna, Opera-lele, Andy Eastwood, and current uke-endurance Guinness World Record holder Robin Evans Esq. Keep an eye on the website because the list of artists keeps on growing. Performances will happen across at least four stages, Mim’s, Unplugthewood, Original Ukulele Songs, and Ukulele Cabaret (hosted by Tricity Vogue). 


May 12–14, 2017

Lansing, Michigan

Back for a seventh time, Lansing’s Mighty Uke Day is one of the Midwest’s destination ukulele events. Expect a bunch of events, including “Women of the Great Uke State” concert featuring Rachael Davis, Marlowe, Julianna Wilson, and Olivia Millerschin, and regular pre-concert events at nearby Elderly Instruments, a large store known as a nexus of ukulele-love. Saturday night’s main concert will have Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, The Ukulele Kings, and Gerald Ross and Frank Youngman. Many of the performers are also giving workshops from swing (Ross), uke meditation (Ward), beginning workshops for children (off-site, hosted by Papa Crow), flamenco (Ward, again), arpeggio picking (Swedberg), and ukulele care and setup (the Elderly staff).

May 17–21, 2017
Pacific Grove, California

Could one ever tire of dazzling beauty of Asilomar, the comfortable conference center just a stone’s throw from the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, and where waves crash on to the craggy rocks of California’s Central Coast, and seals frolic in the seafoam? But to the Retreat: After Wednesday arrival, participants can attend three consecutive morning workshops daily—enrollment limited. Afternoon classes are more casual and cover a variety of musical topics. Who’s teaching? Energizing Jim D’Ville, the Play Ukulele By Ear man, has come to define this event since its inception, event organizers say. Austin-based “ed-uke-cator” Kevin Carroll brings his broad teaching experience, while veteran instructor Gerald Ross will help students master his specialty, swing ukulele, and more. Uker Rhan Wilson and guitarist-songwriter Rick Zeek, both wildly popular teachers at the sister event Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay, will contribute teaching, creativity, and humor to the Retreat. As for Phil Doleman, watch the UK-based author of How Music Works on the Ukulele explain the circle of fifths on and you’ll understand why he was asked to lead workshops. Teacher and multi-instrumentalist Craig McClelland (ukulele, bass, guitar, and tuba) will use his extensive live theater experience to make evening events especially entertaining, with particular attention to the culminating Band Night and Student Cabaret.

May 19–21, 2017
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Big sky, immense red rock formations, rosy sunsets. Tune your senses and your uke to Kokopelli country. Making their New Mexico teaching debut are Jim and Liz Beloff, famous for their popular “Jumpin’ Jim” series of ukulele songbooks, and indie singer, songwriter, and uker Danielle Ate The Sandwich (aka Danielle Anderson). On the other hand, sought-after instructor and performer Heidi Swedberg has immersed herself in the Land of Enchantment’s marvels. Guitarist and teacher Daniel Ward is steeped in the traditional music of his native New Mexico and beyond. UkeFest highlights include a Friday evening concert by the workshop leaders, Saturday evening jam session, and Sunday morning “Gospel According to Uke” sing-along. It all takes place at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, a fascinating collection of indoor and outdoor exhibits to explore between musical activities. Participants will stay at The Hilton Garden Inn, located about a mile from the Museum

May 19–22, 2017
Long Beach, California

Think pools, spa, gym, restaurants, lounges, open decks, shipboard entertainment, daily activities, more food than you can possibly eat and—ah, yes!—ukulele instruction. This round-trip cruise from Long Beach, California, to Ensenada, Mexico, will voyage on the “floating resort” Carnival ship Inspiration. Hosted by Jason Arimoto, ukulele instructor at U-Space in downtown Los Angeles, the program features the Ukulele Underground’s Aldrine Guerrero as guest artist and educator. Workshops will address all levels of playing proficiency. Informal “talk story”-style panel discussions will deal with ukulele history and philosophy. Among other activities are nightly performance showcases and jams plus a special onshore jam-along upon reaching Ensenada. There will also be a marketplace curated by U-Space, presenting specialty ukuleles and accessories. Premier builders and manufacturers will also give product demonstrations.

May 20–21, 2017
Salem, Oregon

Does it get more official than this? In 2016, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared May 20 Oregon Play Your Ukulele Day. For its first anniversary, UFO (Ukulele Fans of Oregon) has organized 90-minute master classes between 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The instructors are workshop leaders par excellence Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee, Maui-born ukulele player Neal Chin, who has taught in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington State, and Laurie Lynn, Portland-based uker, singer, and artist. Later Saturday afternoon, the instructors will perform for participants and the public. After the concert, the UFO Trio will lead a sing-and-play-along. On Sunday afternoon, all are welcome to attend the regular monthly meeting of Ukulele Fans of Oregon, beginning at 1:30 pm. The venue: Salem Public Library on Liberty Street. 

May 26–29, 2017
Olivebridge, New York

The fifth annual family-friendly event takes place in the picturesque Catskill Mountains. Heading the instructor roster is consummate musician James Hill, author of Ukulele in the Classroom, joined by his wife, cellist Anne Janelle. The pair performs in concert on the Saturday evening. Jim D’Ville and Gerald Ross bring their teaching experience and specialties to the program as well. Additional workshop leaders include Grammy-winning folk musicians Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink plus music educator and songwriter Ben Hassenger. Ashokan provides delicious meals and snacks as well as rustic bunkhouse accommodations. 

May 26–30, 2017
Molokai, Hawaii


Happening at the Pu’u O Hoku Ranch, which is surrounded by over 14,000 acres of protected land, and the mesmerizing Halawa Valley, Uke Ohana is five-days of playing, learning, and exploring the ukulele, old Hawaiian culture, and the glorious island of Molokai. Organized by Melany Berry, who also runs the Tunes in the Dunes event in costal Oregon, Uke Ohana combines cultural events, with workshops taught by local musician Lono, who will lead the immersion “old style” Hawaiian music with local singers, dancers, and musicians. 

May 31–June 4, 2017
Napa Valley, California

It’s ukulele summer camp, complete with tent living at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, a redwood-populated park within in scenic Napa Valley wine country. The formal schedule will include one or two daily workshops, leaving room for activities generated during the camp such as sessions on requested topics, jam sessions, or even games. A new schedule will be posted each morning with “blanks” to be filled in by instructors or students. Open mic and talent show performances are planned. Special events include a “Really Bad Country Western Song” jam, chili cook-off, flash mob, swap meet, and “Poolside Follies.” Add to that, prizes for such achievements as “best decorated tent or campsite” and “best sun hat worn at the Poolside Follies.” At publication time, Rhan Wilson and Rick Zeek, musicians based in the Santa Cruz community, and Dave Egan, ukulele instructor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, were confirmed workshop leaders. More instructors will be confirmed once the organizers have finalized Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay registration.

June 16–18, 2017
Sorrento, British Columbia, Canada

Assembled by the Ukulele Orchestra of Kamloops and held at the Sorrento Centre in Sorrento, British Columbia, the Kamloops Summer Festival pulls together several instructors for a weekend of ukulele fun. A wide range of accommodations, from RV parking and camping, to cabanas or rooms in the lodge are available for the parade of instruction and music from Jim D’Ville, Manitoba Hal Brolund, Jane Jelbart and Mark Jackson, and Tina Hebner. At press time, the event was already booked full, though a wait list is available.

June 16–18, 2017
Centreville, Maryland

The main goal of this three-day event on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is to encourage interaction and exchange among players of various folk instruments. Some workshops will be divided by instrument—uke, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, and mandolin. Leading ukulele instruction will be multi-instrumentalist Jared Denhard, founder/director of the Baltimore Ukulele Symphonette and a faculty member at Stevenson University in Baltimore County, Maryland. However, many sessions, such as singing and songwriting, are designed for a cross-section of instrumentalists. There will also be ample time for jamming. The venue, Riverview Retreat Center, is located on spacious grounds by the banks of the Chester River. The Center provides hotel-style accommodations and meals. The nearby sandy beach is available for participants to enjoy between musical activities.

June 23–25, 2017
Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan

Organized by Might Uke Day’s Ben Hassenger and Elderly Instruments’ Stan Werbin, Midwest Uke Camp is an immersive experience in ukulele studies. Held on a college campus over three days, the camp’s teachers include Jim Beloff, Craig Chee, Steven Espaniola, Stu Fuchs, Rachael Manke, Hassenger, Sarah Maisel, Marcy Marxer, Lil’ Rev, Gerald RossFrank Youngman, and others to be announced. Check the website for more information on the extensive workshops.


July 6–9, 2017

Geraldine, New Zealand

Last summer, we named the Geraldine UkeFest as one of our not-to-be-missed ukulele festivals. This year, the festival, located about two hours south of Christchurch, returns with more workshops and performances celebrating the aloha vibe. Expect workshops for absolute beginners, bass basics, performance advice, playing up the fingerboard, plus hula and Tahitian dancing. Bryan Tolentino will be heading up “the big workshop,” which this year is “Hawaiian-style ukulele playing,” AND the big concert on Saturday night, with Halehaku Seabury, Paul Jonson, Lady Friday, and Secret Lives of Ukulele.

July 16, 2017
Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

You wonder how Festival founder/director Roy Sakuma manages to pack so much ukulele star power between 10:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. This year’s Sunday concert at Kapiolani Park bandstand features acclaimed musicians, rising stars, dedicated instructors, and devoted students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The lineup was being finalized at press time, but expect top names performing, plus the Roy Sakuma Ukulele Band, 700 players, ages five to 85, joyfully performing music from a variety of genres.


August 7–9, 2017
Bellingham, Washington

Crave adventure? Consider embarking on the 160-foot Schooner Zodiac sailing out of Bellingham on the Monday morning and returning the Wednesday afternoon. Directing this musical cruise is Brett “2ch” Santucci, leader of the 300-strong Pluckin’ Strummers Uke Group. In addition to basic strumming, he will cover alternate strum patterns, chord positions with some music theory mixed in, and singing. Participants will receive the music to be played in advance, and once onboard the cruise, they’ll get souvenir songbooks. Sailing among the lushly forested San Juan Islands will bring opportunities to see marine life such as seals, porpoises, and even orca and humpback whales. Additionally, the Zodiac offers activities from kayaking and hiking to sipping cocktails on-deck while watching the sunset. But prepare for possible surprises. The Schooner Zodiac write-up states: “Part of the adventure of sailing is that wind and tide may alter your course. For this reason, the Zodiac may deviate from its intended route at the captain’s discretion. Bearing this in mind, the captain and crew will always endeavor to give passengers the most incredible experience possible.”

August 19–23, 2017
North Bethesda, Maryland

Imagine learning ukulele from Benny Chong! The ukulele legend heads the roster of musician-instructors which includes dynamic workshop leaders Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel, award-winning folk musicians Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink, music education consultant Sam Marchuk, and Maureen Andary, who applies the methods of James Hill, author of Ukulele in the Classroom. For morning sessions Saturday through Tuesday, students will attend classes by skill level. Afternoon workshops will cover a wide variety of topics, some open to all and others addressing specific skill levels. Students will also attend a daily practice for their final evening UkeFest Orchestra performance. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, instructors will perform in concert. An open-mic session will follow. The Summit’s closing party will take place on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday evening, participants will demonstrate their musical skills in the UkeFest Orchestra concert. The setting for this intense learning experience is Strathmore, a multi-disciplinary arts center on a 16-acre site located one-half mile outside the Capital Beltway.

September 9–16, 2017
Tuscany, Italy

Imagine the undulating hills of Tuscany, dotted with vineyards, olive groves, and stone villas. Stay in one of those villas for an enchanting week, honing your ukulele skills with Italy’s Francesco Albertazzi and the UK’s Peter Moss. The daily multilevel classes will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. while jams sessions, open mics, and performances are planned for the evenings. Private lessons also will be available. This Tuscan sojourn includes excursions to San Gimignano, Siena, Monterrigioni, Rapolano Terme, Colle di Val d’Elsa, and Castellina in Chianti. Lest villa life become tedious, they’ve also added cooking classes and visits to a thermal spa. For more information, contact Flying Olive Adventures at

September 15–17, 2017
Westwind, Oregon

Returning to the beautiful Oregon coast for its seventh year, Tunes in the Dunes corrals some of the finest ukulele teachers and performers anywhere for a few days of ukulele-intensive fun and instruction. Attendees can stay in cabins, set among trees, or choose a tent in the dunes or camping in a pine forest. The schedule is still being finalized, but expect to have workshops and performances by Aaron and Nicole Keim, James Hill and Anne Janelle, Bryan Holley, Andy Andrews, Steven Espaniola, and Jim D’Ville.