Ten of Hawaii’s best events

Ashlee Galea

Hawaii sure knows how to put on a show, with an impressive list of celebrations taking place across its islands year-round.

Visitors have the opportunity to enrich their Hawaii holiday and gain valuable insight into the destination, its people and local life by attending one of the many festivals and events on offer.

Check out 10 of the best below:

1. Aloha Festivals (statewide in September)

The Aloha Festivals are a month-long celebration of Hawaiian culture with special events held statewide to honour Hawaii’s people, history and customs.

Visitors to Oahu have a unique opportunity to witness the re-enactment of the Hawaiian Royal Court procession during the opening ceremony and to enjoy Waikiki Hoolauelea, a huge block party featuring Hawaiian music, entertainment, arts and crafts, and island cuisine.

The festivities culminate with a Floral Parade along Kalakaua Avenue featuring pau (long-skirted) horse riders, colourful floats decorated with Hawaiian flowers, hula performances, and marching bands.

2. King Kamehameha Festival (statewide in June)

Hawaii locals come together for the King Kamehameha Festival to pay homage to King Kamehameha I, a beloved monarch who unified all of the islands to form the Kingdom of Hawaii.

The parade begins at Iolani Palace, the former residence of Hawaii’s Kings and Queens, and ends at Kapiolani Park at the foot of Diamond Head.

Thousands of spectators line the parade route to catch a glimpse of the extravagant Hawaiian affair featuring pau horse riders, ornate floats, decorated vehicles, marching bands, and more.

3. Honolulu Festival (Oahu in March)

Honolulu Festival is a three-day extravaganza aimed at showcasing the lively Asian, Pacific and Hawaiian cultures through music, dance, arts, crafts, special exhibits, and presentations.

The entertainment line-up is provided by groups from Japan, Australia, Tahiti, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Hawaii, and more.

The festival comes to a close with a Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue, where spectators line the street to enjoy a raft of multi-culturally diverse songs, dances and traditional performances, and ends with an incredible Nagaoka Fireworks display.

4. Duke’s Oceanfest (Oahu in August)

An invitation is extended each year for locals and visitors to attend Duke’s OceanFest to participate (or spectate) in ocean sports on Waikiki Beach in honour of Native Hawaiian surf legend and Olympic champion swimmer Duke Kahanamoku.

This series of watersport events encompasses surfing, tandem-surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, water polo, beach volleyball, and more. The sunrise lei draping ceremony on the Duke Kahanamoku Statue or the Hawaiian Legends Luau is also a must-see event.

5. Koloa Plantation Days (Kauai in July)

The purpose of Koloa Plantation Days is to highlight Hawaii’s natural and social history, and to celebrate the diverse cultural traditions of many ethnic groups that immigrated to Hawaii to work on the sugar cane plantations.

The program unfolds at different Poipu and Koloa resorts on the south shore of Kauai and comprises of talk stories, keiki (kids) activities, live music and cultural performances, film nights, craft fairs, culinary events, outdoor sports, a parade, and even a rodeo.

6. Made in Hawaii (Oahu in August)

Attracting 400 local businesses and over 45,000 attendees, Made in Hawaii Festival is the state’s largest exhibition of Hawaiian-made products. The latest and greatest from across the Hawaiian Islands is on sale under one roof.

Patrons will find everything from homegrown food and beverages, handmade arts and crafts, incredible photography, unique homewares, custom apparel, and bespoke jewellery and accessories.

Local award-winning entertainers and Hawaii chefs also feature in the exhibition line-up.

7. Hawaii International Film Festival (Oahu, Island of Hawaii and Kauai in November)

Created with an intention to “entertain, enlighten and inspire”, the Hawaii International Film Festival has become a leading cultural event in the State of Hawaii.

Over 150 cinematic works from around the world screen over a two-week period, including acclaimed films from the Sundance, Cannes and Toronto film festivals. A significant portion of the program is dedicated to Asia-Pacific Rim features, documentaries and short films.

8. Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Oahu, Maui and Island of Hawaii in October and November)

Internationally-renowned master chefs, winemakers, sommeliers, and mixologists come together to showcase their epicurean talents and Hawaii’s local ingredients at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

It’s Hawaii’s most prominent foodie affair spanning three weeks. A schedule of festivals and events offer one-of-a-kind experiences from elaborate tasting menus and multiple-course dinner, hukilau beach cookouts and farm excursions to food battles, wine seminars and cooking demonstrations.

9. Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Island of Hawaii in November)

The local community of Kona spends 10 days annually celebrating its cultural heritage and world-famous coffee beans at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Visitors are invited to sample award-winning brews, tour historic coffee farms, partake in hands-on Hawaiian cultural activities, view coffee art exhibitions, watch the Lantern Parade and party at the finale event, the Hoolaulea, a lively street festival in Kailua-Kona.

10. Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (Oahu in November and December)

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is a three-part series of professional surfing events held on Oahu’s North shore at the beginning of Hawaii’s winter.

The first competition, Hawaiian Pro, takes place on a precarious reef at Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa. The second stop, Vans World Cup, is set in the deep waters off Sunset Beach. The third and final event, Billabong Pipe Masters, unfolds across the big waves at Banzai Pipeline.

This article was written by Ashlee Galea and originally appeared on Hawaii Tourism Authority’s website. It has been republished on Travel Weekly with permission.


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