Japanese performers fill Waikiki’s streets during the Pan-Pacific Festival. // © 2015 Pan-Pacific Festival
Feature image (above): Tahitian culture takes center stage at Heiva I Kauai. // © 2015 Mike Teruya
If you’re planning a family vacation to Hawaii, consider timing it with one of the destination’s annual festivals held in June, July or August.
“Many of our state’s family-friendly summer festivals showcase Hawaii’s history and culture in an authentic way, with local food, arts, crafts and entertainment,” said Karen Hughes, vice president of Meet Hawaii and Travel Industry Partnerships for Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. “A lot of heart and soul goes into organizing these events each year, and they just keep getting better.”
Appealing to all ages and guaranteed to create cherished memories in the Aloha State, the following fests invite families to mingle with locals and immerse themselves in distinctive island traditions.
June 12-14: Pan-Pacific Festival (Oahu)
Hula dancers and taiko drummers share the spotlight during this celebration of Hawaiian and Japanese traditions. Waikiki turns into an international party with crafts, food booths and a cross-cultural parade on Kalakaua Avenue.
July 3-4: Lanai Pineapple Festival (Lanai)
Little Lanai once laid claim to a thriving pineapple plantation. This annual party celebrates Hawaii’s famed fruit with a parade, food, crafts, games, prizes, entertainment and a fireworks display in Lanai City’s Dole Park.
July 4: Parker Ranch Rodeo (Hawaii Island)
The lush ranch lands of Waimea set the stage for this famed annual rodeo. Fans cheer for their favorite paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) during daring demonstrations of bronco busting and barrel racing. Children’s activities and food add allure for families.
July 17-26: Koloa Plantation Days (Kauai)
Sugar runs deep in Kauai history, with plantations dating back to 1835. This sweet, south Kauai event honors the crop with all-ages options such as sports contests, family fishing, guided hikes, a rodeo, a ukulele contest, a parade and an outdoor festival.
July 18-19: Prince Lot Hula Festival (Oahu)
Honoring a ruler who helped revive the once-forbidden hula, this hip-swinging event spreads out under monkeypod trees at Moanalua Gardens. In between dances, families can taste island food and learn about local arts and crafts.
July 19: Ukulele Festival (Oahu)
Nothing says Hawaii like the ukulele, and here’s a chance to hear it played to the utmost by top performers and a ukulele orchestra of more than 800 students. Food booths and displays add to the plucky fun in Kapiolani Park.
Aug. 1-2: Heiva I Kauai (Kauai)
Tahitian drumming and dancing captivate crowds during this competition, with performers from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland and Japan. Arts and crafts vendors, ethnic food and fire-knife dance workshops make this a hit with both young and old.