Hawaii Island is pretty in pink during the annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival. // © 2014 Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival
SPOTLIGHT: HAWAII ISLAND
Feb. 1: Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival. Japanese traditions and culture take center stage in the beautiful upcountry environs of Waimea town. The festival lures visitors with its 60-year-old cherry trees, live music, exhibits, crafts, entertainment, ethnic foods, a farmers’ market and visiting performers and artists from Japan.
Feb. 8: Chinese New Year Festival. Now in its 12th year, this New Year celebration, the Year of the Horse, energizes downtown Hilo with lion dancers parading through town. Kalakaua Park is filled with arts, crafts and food booths. Performances, kids’ activities and calligraphy and martial arts demonstrations turn the park into a mini-Chinatown for the day.
Feb. 15-16: Panaewa Stampede Rodeo. Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) take to the corral for a contest that is sure to please rodeo fans. The amateur competition features young and adult riders who compete in bull riding, roping, barrel jumping and double mugging. The rodeo also features live music, crafts booths and local foods. Panaewa Equestrian Center, Hilo.
Feb. 7 and 9: Slack-Key Concerts. Every Friday and Sunday afternoon on Kauai’s north shore, visitors can hear songs and stories of the islands accompanied by the sweet strumming of slack-key guitars, whose loosely tuned strings create a distinctive Hawaiian sound. Proceeds from each concert benefit the local community. Hanalei Community Center.
Feb. 15-22: Waimea Town Celebration. Spread over eight days and one mile, this West Kauai celebration immerses locals and visitors in community spirit. The celebratory events include an outrigger canoe race, a rodeo, a ukulele contest, cultural events, mountainball and basketball tournaments and an ice cream-eating challenge.
Feb. 15: World Whale Day. Thousands of residents and visitors attend this sea-themed shindig, one of Maui’s most popular events. It begins with the Parade of Whales through Kihei and continues with free live entertainment by top Hawaii stars, hula performances, local food, activities and rides for kids, an artisan’s fair and environmental displays in Kalama Park.
Feb. 7: First Friday. What do locals do to kick off the weekend on Oahu? On the first Friday evening of each month they head to downtown Honolulu, where galleries, museums, studios, cafes and antique stores open their doors to the public and street entertainers keep things lively. A free gallery walking map is available at all participating sites.
Feb. 17: Great Aloha Run. This 29-year-old tradition lures thousands of runners to the streets of Honolulu. The eight-mile course starts at Aloha Tower, winds its way past historic Honolulu Harbor and finishes at Aloha Stadium. A three-day health expo takes place at Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu in the days leading up to the race.