The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is a breathtaking city that nests on the southern shore of Oahu. It is a dreamy destination for tourists who need a quick escape from the routine city life and its stressful environment. Here, you will be astonished by the city’s stunning landscape with rolling plains, picturesque views, and a fair share of gorgeous beaches. Honolulu is like a piece of heaven on earth but with upscale offerings, such as luxurious resorts, a vibrant nightlife, and high-end shopping districts. If you are into the fun and the party, and you plan to visit this side of Hawaii anytime soon, here is a list of the top festivals in Honolulu, Hawaii, that might pique your interest.
1. Chinese New Year Celebration
Whether you have Chinese blood in you or you are just a regular Tom who is always amazed by the culture and traditions of this Asian country, you will surely be mesmerized by the vibrancy of the Chinese New Year Celebration in Honolulu. This annual event takes place at the Chinatown Cultural Center. During the Chinese new year, this bustling district becomes a melting pot of people from around the world, not only the Chinese. There are lots of fascinating programs, fun-filled games, a Chinese food crawl, dragon dances, and more. Plus, a new year celebration is never complete without an extravagant firework display that graces the place at 12 midnight.
2. Honolulu Festival
Celebrated a few days in Honolulu and held in the Hawaii Convention Center, the Honolulu Festival is one of the many fascinating festivals that shape the culture of the city. It aims to promote understanding of the city’s diverse heritage and serve as a tourism movement in one fun-filled event. Lots of programs are curated for everyone joining the festivities, from marvelous trade fairs to tree planting activities to entertaining cultural performances, and more. As a conclusion to the three-day celebration, a Grand Parade breezes through the city. It is colorful, extravagant, and filled with sparkling lights, and high above the skies, fireworks entertain the viewers below.
3. Kapalua Wine and Food Festival
Held in the breathtaking beach area of the luxurious Kapalua Resort, Kapalua Wine and Food Festival is a wonderful event that will take you to a palatable culinary adventure of the city’s local specialties and premium wine. There will be lots of activities that welcomes everyone to join during the festival. Expect to catch a live cooking show from the city’s top chefs, learn the ropes of winemaking, attend a fantastic after-party at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Pool Cafe, sign up for golfing tournaments, and indulge in the rejuvenating spa services and fitness classes prepared by the organizers, and a lot more await participants of Kapalua Wine and Food Festival.
4. Hawaii Invitational International Music Festival
f you are a social butterfly, you will surely have the time of your life in the Hawaii Invitational International Music Festival. Plan a flight to Honolulu in March, and be able to take part in one of the biggest music fests in the city. During the festivities, attendees will be entertained by world-renowned musicians as well as budding local talents. This event might highlight the music scene, but it does not revolve only on that. It also has prepared sightseeing tour activities, historical story-telling, and gastronomic experience that you should not miss.
5. Honolulu City Lights
An unmissable event during December that is organized by the local city government with help from Friends of Honolulu City Lights, Honolulu City Lights will enchant you with a dreamy holiday setting and a well-curated program for the whole family, during Christmas. This yuletide attraction lasts a month. Starting the first day of December, the Honolulu Hale will be filled with sparkling fairy lights, and a giant Christmas tree will stand proud in the heart of the area and serve as the centerpiece. Plus, there will be a delightful trade fair during the festival where you can find exquisite items for your Christmas preparations.
6. Pacific Island Arts Festival
Are you a talented artist yourself or just someone with a deep appreciation for art? Whatever box you put yourself into, you will enjoy your time in the delightful Pacific Island Arts Festival that happens in Kapiolani Park annually. Spearheaded by the handcrafters and Artisans Alliance, this festival is a fantastic gathering of the city’s local artists and superb merchants that will try to impress you with their specialty products, reflecting different art forms. You can buy home decors, handwoven clothing pieces, glassware, and stunning artwork in this trade fair. Not only that, but stalls selling delicious delicacies will be there too.
7. Made in Hawaii Festival
If you are planning to visit the stunning city of Honolulu in August, you might be able to witness the captivating Made in Hawaii Festival. This event is a fantastic gathering of the state’s top producers and retailers. Conducted in the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, you will experience a wonderful trade fair selling artisan products, trendy clothes, books, fresh produce, gorgeous plants, and a lot more. Live entertainment will grace the guests of the event. Plus, there will be a carnival that will make the kids and the kids at heart jump with glee.
8. Kona Brewer’s Festival
Organized by The Ke Kai Ala Foundation, Kona Brewer’s Festival is a fantastic celebration that aims to support the environment-preservation initiatives of Hawaii. It is characterized by a fantastic community gathering that celebrates the brewing industry and the delicious local cuisine of the city. Expect to sample premium drinks while at the festival, and get to try delicious eats in one setting where you can socialize, and at the same time be instrumental in the preservation of the ecosystem. Plus, get to catch a live performance of the traditional Hawaiian dances and local songs.
9. Maui Film Festival
A charming festival for movie junkies and film enthusiasts, Maui Film Festival is a lovely gathering that will let you experience watching a movie in a vast open space with picturesque views, under the skies blanket by the multitude of stars. This event has been recurring since its first year in 2000. It offers not only film viewing, but award ceremonies, private soirees, and even a gastronomic adventure. World-renowned actors also join the celebration. In the past, Pierce Brosnan and Freida Pinto were invited guests of the event.
10. Cherry Blossom Festival
Started way back 1953, initiated by the founding fathers of the Japanese people of Hawaii, Cherry Blossom Festival is a three-month-long ethnic festival that aims to preserve and share the vibrant Japanese culture in the whole region. Through the event, young women with Japanese ancestry are polished to be the best version of themselves by undergoing programs, poise workshops, leadership training, and public speaking classes.
11. Kauaʻi Mokihana Festival
For more than 30 years now, Hawaii holds a marvelous festival called the Kaua’s Mokihana Festival. It is one of the many fun-filled events in the region that celebrates the fascinating culture of Hawaii. This festival has a well-curated program that all types of guests will enjoy, especially families. You will be mesmerized by the beauty of wide ranges of flowers that are grown on the island as they are showcased in the floral competitions. Additionally, there will be entertaining Hula performances and other traditional acts during the event. Plus, there will be a lovely Church service dedicated to the event.
12. Korean Festival
Are you one of the many Millenials who are drawn by the Kpop culture? Do you have Korean blood in your system or are you just a curious tourist who wants to understand foreign cultures? Whatever you consider yourself as your Honolulu escapade in August will not be complete without witnessing the celebration of the Korean Festival. In this celebration, everyone is welcome to catch a glimpse of the Korean lifestyle and indulge in a gastronomic experience of their mouthwatering and authentic local specialties. Aside from cultural presentations and food, there is a lot of dancing, music, and art in the event. Plus, famous Korean performers are invited to the celebration to provide superb entertainment for the attendees.
13. Ukulele Festival Hawaii
A fabulous event that opens the summer season in Hawaii, Ukelele Festival Hawaii is a lovely music fest that showcases the local music scene of the peninsular state. Conducted on the Kapiolani Park annually, free Ukelele lessons are offered for interested parties in this captivating festival. Guests will be entertained by lovely mini-concerts of Ukelele musicians and traditional performers. To top it all off, you might want to experience a meet and greet with James Ingram, who is a frequent guest of the Ukelele Festival Hawaii.
14. Aloha Festivals
Another fantastic event that you should not miss when you visit Hawaii in September is the annual Aloha Festivals. This event does not only center in Honolulu, but it is a series of festivals celebrated throughout the region, simultaneously. During this week-long celebrations, breathtaking floral floats and colorful parades breeze through every bustling district in the state. Plus, a block party is held in Waikiki, which welcomes everyone to experience the delightful party scene of Hawaii and get to try its local specialties and drinks. Also, witness the presentation of the Royal Court which is a big part of the Aloha festivals, and a mark of the beginning of the celebration.
15. Ka Moloka’i Makahiki Festival
Everyone who has been to Hawaii once or twice in their lives and was able to immerse themselves in the state’s culture can tell that the Hawaiian people are serious about preserving their culture and staying loyal to their roots. Ka Moloka’i Makahiki Festival is a testament to that and a wonderful gathering that promotes the traditional Hawaiian heritage. Held on the breathtaking island of Molokai every January, this festival serves as an event where ethnic groups can gather and settle their differences, but it does not only revolve in that. After the talks and discussions, there comes a colorful festival to celebrate the bountiful harvest season, which features lots of music, dancing, and a feast of palatable local eats. Games are also present in the event, and watersports are also popular among attendees.
16. Makawao Rodeo
Rodea is one of the many fascinating things that make up the charming culture of Hawaii. If you are a big fan of this sport event, you might want to watch it live at the Oskie Rice Arena, Olinda Rd. You can watch rodeo any time of the year, but it is extra special when you watch it in July, as during this season, the place gets packed with a multitude of tourists and locals alike. You can either bet in the biggest paniolo competition of the year or participate with your loyal horse.
17. Pan-Pacific Festival
Surely, Hawaii never runs out of festivals all year round, and the locals find reasons to celebrate even in the smallest of things, but that’s a good thing right? Who wouldn’t love partying, dining, and being entertained? If you are one of the people who are into the festival scene of the region, join the Pan-Pacific Festival, and for three consecutive days, get to discover the vibrant culture of Hawaii and immerse in it. During the event, entertainment is everywhere, from traditional Hula performances, Ukelele concerts, to mainstream music fests, and parties pop up left and right. Plus, there will be trade fairs where you can score lovely artisan products and other souvenir items.
18. Maui Whale Festival
Celebrate the breathtaking waterscape of Hawaii and its rich marine life by indulging in all the incredible offerings that await you during the Maui Whale Festival in February. This event is not only a celebration but also a movement that aims to preserve the marine eco-system of Hawaii. Expect a series of fun-filled events during the festivities, including a Run & Walk for the Whales fundraising event, a parade of Whales, a film festival, and enchanting whale shows.
The vibrant festival scene of Honolulu
Honolulu is a gorgeous city that boasts breathtaking beaches, stunning landscapes, and most interestingly, a rich and fascinating cultural heritage. Although most people come in this piece of heaven on earth for relaxation, a lot are captivated by the charm of the Hawaiian people. If you are planning to spend a much-deserved vacation on this side of Hawaii, use this list of the top festivals as your guide in planning the perfect time to visit.