The Honolulu Marathon draws thousands of runners to Oahu each December. // © 2014 2014 ADK-Honolulu Marathon
Dec. 14: Honolulu Marathon. This footrace may be 42 years old, but it’s still going strong. The scenic 26.2-mile course starts downtown, winds through Waikiki and past Diamond Head to east Honolulu, then back to Waikiki, with the finish line in Kapiolani Park. Cheering crowds — including a stage with hula dancers — line the route.
Dec. 6: Waimea Christmas Festivities and Parade. The upcountry ranch town of Waimea presents a day of arts, crafts, music and yuletide activities. Locals and visitors turn out for a festive evening parade winding from the historic Church Row to Waimea Park, highlighted by Santa and a brigade of lighted trucks.
Dec. 28: Traditional Mochi Pounding. A normally sleepy little village turns lively during the annual mochitsuki celebration, when islanders make Japanese rice cakes in the tradition of their ancestors. At Akiko’s Buddhist Bed and Breakfast in Wailea, longtime residents share stories of days gone by, and clients can take a turn at pounding the glutinous sticky rice for good luck.
Dec. 5: Festival of Lights. Signaling the start of the holiday season, this cherished annual family event opens with performances by local choirs, a parade of floats down Lihue’s Rice Street and the lighting of Kauai’s historic county building. Clients can enjoy the Christmas decorations inside the building Friday to Sunday evenings through Dec. 27, as well as on Christmas Eve.
Dec. 20: Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade. This fun, homespun west Kauai procession runs along Kaumualii Highway from the intersection at Waimea Canyon Drive to Hofgaard Park, in the center of town. Afterward, locals and visitors mingle over refreshments, sing carols and enjoy live entertainment in a setting of holiday lights.
Dec. 7-8: Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree. Lahaina’s historic banyan brightens up for the holidays with thousands of colored lights. Choirs sing carols in Hawaiian, accompanied by musical groups and children’s hula performances. Santa hosts a cookie workshop, and kids can play in a pile of real snow. A holiday crafts fair takes place each day.
Dec. 10-11: Masters of Hawaiian Music. Every Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Napili Kai Beach Resort, entertainer George Kahumoku Jr. serves as master of ceremonies for a show starring revered Hawaii musicians, from deft ukulele players to lyrical falsetto singers. This month’s guests include Ledward Kaapana, Sterling Seaton, Wainani Kealoha and Kimo West.
Dec. 6-Jan. 1: Honolulu City Lights. At the end of each year, downtown Honolulu sparkles with yuletide festivities, presided over by the city’s 65-foot-high Norfolk Island pine in front of Honolulu Hale (City Hall). Opening night brings an electric light parade and live concert, and throughout the month, clients can browse an exhibit of holiday trees and wreaths.
Dec. 8-20: Billabong Pipe Masters. When the winter waves rise up on Oahu’s North Shore, high-profile surfers gather to compete for the title of world’s best. The final of three annual December wave-riding contests, the Pipe Masters draws crowds of enthusiastic fans to the sands off Banzai Pipeline. Events take place during days when the conditions are biggest and best.