Credit: Moanalua Gardens Foundation
O‘ahu’s Festivals Provide Special Reasons to Travel
The following monthly listings guide will familiarize you with O‘ahu’s many special festivities and enable you to advise your family clients about celebrations that will interest their group. Only on O‘ahu can your family travelers enjoy such a comprehensive range of events, from authentic hula and ‘ukulele concerts, to world class culinary festivals and nationally ranked athletic competitions.
Moanikeala Hula Festival – Gifted hula dancers and hālau (schools) come together at the Polynesian Cultural Center for the first hula event of the year.
Sony Open in Hawai‘i – The Sony Open in Hawai‘i kicks off the PGA Tour by bringing many of the world’s best professional golfers to O‘ahu’s exclusive Wai‘alae Country Club.
NFL Pro Bowl – One week before the Super Bowl, the biggest names and hardest hitters in the National Football League (NFL) travel here for the NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
POW! Wow! Hawai‘I – Local and global artists showcase their work during a celebration of street art featuring gallery shows, panel discussions, mural projects, concerts, and live art installations.
Great Aloha Run – This annual competition features an 8.15-mile foot race from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium plus a three-day Sports, Health, and Fitness Expo.
Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival – This ultimate mind, body and soul wellness festival features yoga masters, musical performers, top chefs and winemakers along with leading wellness speakers.
Honolulu Festival – The annual festival celebrates cultures from across the Pacific with art, music, dance, and crafts, culminating in a Grand Parade and fireworks display.
Ko Olina Children’s Film & Music Festival – This benefit for Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children includes children’s films, live entertainment, and kids’ activities.
Mele Wahi Pana (March-October) – This four-part music series at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site explores O‘ahu’s music and features notable performers, scholars, kumu hula (hula masters), and hula hālau (hula schools).
Hawai‘i International Film Festival – (April and October) The festival is dedicated to the advancement of understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific, and North America through film.
Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival – Held on the Frank F. Fasi Grounds at Honolulu Hale, the event celebrates and honors books, storytelling, and music
Lei Day Celebration – This holiday celebrates the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. Kapi‘olani Park hosts entertainment, food booths, and a lei-making contest May 1 contest followed by an honoring of Hawai‘i’s ali‘I (royals) at Mauna Ala and Kawaiaha‘o Church May 2.
Waikīkī SPAM Jam – This event celebrating Hawai‘i’s love of SPAM features Honolulu’s finest restaurants serving up SPAM-inspired creations plus live entertainment.
We Are Samoa Festival/Annual World Fireknife Championship – Dancers of all ages showcase their mastery of Samoan fireknives in which acrobatic moves and death-defying tricks combine with a celebration of Samoan culture at Polynesian Cultural Center.
Lantern Floating Hawai‘I – On Memorial Day, thousands gather at Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park to honor ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. At sundown, more than 3,000 candlelit lanterns are set afloat on the ocean, a traditional Buddhist rite from Japan.
Honolulu Triathlon – The Olympic distance triathlon features a 1.5K swim, 40K bike race, and 10K run beginning and ending at Ala Moana Beach Park.
Rainbow Film Festival – The festival educates and raises community awareness about gay and lesbian culture, arts, and lifestyle through independent films shown at the Doris Duke Theatre.
King Kamehameha Floral Parade – This colorful celebration honors King Kamehameha with a parade featuring brightly decorated floats, marching bands and traditional pa‘u riders representing a Hawaiian royal court on horseback.
Pan-Pacific Festival – The three-day celebration features Pacific Rim cultural performances, demonstrations, hula, food, ho‘olaule‘a (block party), and colorful parade with thousands of participants in lively costumes marching down Kalākaua Avenue.
Obon Dances and Festivals (June-August) – Buddhist temples celebrate the Japanese Obon tradition through dance, music, and special festivities.
Ala Moana Center Fireworks – This July 4 celebration is one of the nation’s most spectacular fireworks displays and part of a grand weekend of live entertainment and mall wide shopping savings.
Prince Lot Hula Festival – Hawai‘i’s largest non-competitive hula event honors Prince Lot Kapuāiwa who reprised the once forbidden hula in the district of Moanalua.
Hale‘iwa Summer ArtFest – This North Shore event features visual artists, musicians, singers, dancers, demonstrations, storytelling, student art displays, historical trolley tours, and children’s arts and crafts.
‘Ukulele Festival Hawai‘i – The largest festival of its kind in the world is a free, five-hour concert featuring the finest ‘ukulele players, national celebrities, Hawai‘i’s top entertainers, and a ‘ukulele orchestra with over 800 students, mostly children.
Korean Festival – This popular cultural celebration highlights the unique food, dance, art and music of Korea through cooking lessons, a singing competition, and even a kim chee eating contest.
Hawai‘i All-Collectors Show – This annual collectibles and antiques show and sale features more than 200 booths with one of the largest selections of Hawaiiana under one roof.
Mangoes at the Moana – This celebration of all things mango (over 60 varieties grow in Hawai‘i) includes recipe contests, cooking demonstrations, and a mango cocktail throw down.
Made in Hawai‘i Festival – More than 400 exhibitors offer a wide variety of items made and grown in Hawai‘i plus performances by award-winning entertainers and cooking demonstrations by Hawai‘i’s top culinary artists.
Duke’s OceanFest – This annual celebration honors Duke Kahanamoku, the revered Hawaiian waterman, through longboard surfing, surf polo, swimming, and standup paddle competitions and the lei draping ceremony of Duke’s statue.
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival – The festival, held in Kapi‘olani Park, celebrates, perpetuates, and preserves the unique Hawaiian acoustic guitar art form of “ki ho‘alu,” which means “loosen the key,” and originated with Hawaiian paniolo (cowboys) in the 19th century.
Okinawan Festival – The largest ethnic festival in the state of Hawai‘i celebrates Okinawan culture with food, entertainment, arts, crafts, and authentic activities.
Greek Festival – Held at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park, the Greek Festival celebrates Greek culture with food, live entertainment, cultural booths, and more.
Aloha Festivals – This premier performing arts showcase celebrates and perpetuates Hawai‘i’s music, dance, and history with festivities on O‘ahu that include a Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a and a floral parade.
Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival – HFWF is an internationally renowned gastronomic extravaganza that features an all star line up of renowned chefs cooking with locally sourced ingredients, spotlights Hawai‘i’s natural bounty, and promotes a sustainable Hawai‘i.
Rice Festival – The celebration of “the grain that connects us” features entertainment, cultural performances, and cooking demonstrations by local celebrity chefs while showcasing how rice is prepared by the different cultures on O‘ahu.
Waikīkī Roughwater Swim – Swimmers from all over the world tackle the challenging waters of Waikīkī in the open water, 2.384-miles long, from Sans Souci Beach to near Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Honolulu Century Ride – Hawai‘i’s oldest and largest cycling event begins and ends at Kapi‘olani Park, and participants can choose to ride 20, 25, 40, 50, 75, or 100 miles at their own pace.
Hawai‘i Fishing and Seafood Festival – The annual event celebrates Hawai‘i’s fishing and seafood industry with fishing workshops and demonstrations, games and activities, fresh seafood dishes, and more.
Hawai‘i Chocolate Festival – The festival, launched to raise awareness about Hawai‘i’s growing cacao industry, will be a day for chocolate lovers filled with tastings, guest speakers, a chocolate inspired spa lounge, chocolate garden, coco café and tea house, and live entertainment.
Moloka‘i Hoe – One of the longest running annual team sporting events in Hawai‘i, the outrigger canoe race starts at Hale o Lono beach on Moloka‘i and ends at Duke Kahanamoku Beach at Waikīkī. The event perpetuates one of Hawai‘i and Polynesia’s most important and historic cultural traditions.
Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing – The world’s best surfers gather on the island’s famed North Shore every November and December for a trio of the sport’s most prestigious events, where pros challenge themselves on epic waves at Hale‘iwa, Sunset Beach, and Banzai Pipeline.
Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational In Memory of Eddie Aikau – The world’s best big wave surfers are invited to Waimea Bay on the North Shore to compete in “the Eddie” that can only be held when surf measures at least 20 feet (Hawaiian scale) for a full day.
XTERRA Trail Run World Championship – This off-road half-marathon winds through Kualoa Ranch on O‘ahu’s northeastern shore and also includes trail runs, a children’s race, and other family events.
Honolulu Marathon – Thousands of runners from around the world participate in the Honolulu Marathon, a 26.2-mile course with spectacular views of Waikīkī Beach and Diamond Head.
Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic – This eight-team, 12-game bracket tournament features some of the nation’s best collegiate men’s basketball teams and is held at the University of Hawai‘i’s Stan Sherriff Center.
Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl – The annual college football bowl game is played at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium on Christmas Eve.
- Learn your clients’ interests so you can recommend the ideal festivals.
- Find out if your clients are marathoners or cyclists who may want to participate in any of O‘ahu’s races.
- Create a database of events by month or interest and make sure you alert your clients in plenty of time about special festivities.
- Create custom itineraries themed around events. For example, develop a culinary itinerary around the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival that might include farmers’ market visits, a private chef dinner, and reservations at a variety of island eateries.