Honolulu Festivals and Events
There’s always something going on in Honolulu, but the biggest and best festivals take place around summertime. You can make the most of your visit by scheduling it around a festival or cultural event. If you’re planning to come to Oahu between March and September, shoot to stay near Waikiki Beach and you’ll be right where the action is. (Beyond festivals, Waikiki hotels are close to plenty of other attractions — the Ala Wai Golf Course is close to the Sheraton Princess Hawaii, and Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo are right by Park Shore Waikiki and Aqua Lotus Honolulu:).
Honolulu Festival (mid-March; free)
The Honolulu Festival is a three-day event celebrating the art, music, food, and dance of Hawaii’s diverse melting pot of cultures from across the Pacific Rim. The festival includes dance performances and demonstrations of traditional arts and crafts from Hawaii and countries like Japan and Korea. It culminates in a large parade of floats (including a “fire-breathing dragon”) and fireworks over beautiful Waikiki beach. Attendees can buy treats and crafts from vendors, view photo exhibits, and sample dishes from Hawaii’s top restaurants.
Lei Day Celebration (May 1; free)
Every year at Kapiolani Park, May Day is Lei Day. The celebration includes lei-making workshops and competitions, as well as exhibits of beautifully crafted leis, steel-guitar performances, and food and craft vendors. Kids can visit “Tutu’s Hale” (grandmother’s house) to play Hawaiian games, learn to hula, and make their own leis.
King Kamehameha Floral Parade (June 11; free)
This annual parade, part of King Kamehameha Day, is a celebration of Kamehameha’s founding of the Hawaiian royal state in 1810. Every year, the king’s statue in front of Honolulu’s Judiciary Building is covered in 40-foot leis. Alongside brightly decorated floats and marching bands, you’ll see a royal court of princesses led by a queen, all riding on horseback in ornate 19th-century riding gowns and beautiful leis. The parade begins at Iolani Palace and ends at Kapiolani Park, where cultural exhibitions are set up. Afterwards, a lively “block party” takes place, with food, music, games, and arts and crafts.
Made in Hawaii Festival (third weekend in August; $4, but free for kids under 6)
Made in Hawaii is a three-day showcase of Hawaiian food, books, art, fashion, entertainment, and cooking demonstrations. The event is primarily a hotspot for crafts and snacks — you can find everything from handcrafted jewelry to macadamia-nut pancake mix — but in addition to that, there are cooking demonstrations by award-winning chefs, and performances by famous Hawaiian musicians and even comedians.
Aloha Festivals (through September; free)
Aloha Week is Hawaii’s oldest and biggest cultural celebration and spans all six islands — it began in 1946, and over a million people attend the Aloha Festivals’ concerts, parades, and street parties each year. There’s a broad mix of old and new: Hula, chant, and processions of royal Pau riders in traditional dress on the one hand; entertainers and even hot rods on the other — plus, loads of Hawaiian food.