If you’re hankering to go to Oahu, but not sure when to go, perhaps you’d like to go during one of the many excellent festivals. To help you, I’ve created this handy dandy list of Oahu festivals – which mixes in input from the nice folks at the Oahu Visitor’s Bureau, plus my opinion.
Please note that is post was originally published in 2012. Specific dates will change from year to year. On occasion, some festivals will move to a different month, but typically the following festivals are held roughly around the same time. .
March 2-4 in 2012
Honolulu Festival celebrates cultures from across the Pacific with art, music, dance and crafts. The event culminates with a Grand Parade in Waikiki followed by fireworks.
Waikiki SPAM® Jam
April 28 in 2012
The Waikiki SPAM® Jam is an exciting annual street festival that takes place on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. The event celebrates Hawaii’s love of SPAM® and features a variety of Honolulu’s finest restaurants serving up SPAM®-inspired creations. Two entertainment stages provide non-stop entertainment ranging from hula dancers to local musicians, and merchandise vendors sell SPAM®-themed items and Hawaiian crafts. Proceeds from the event benefit the Hawaii Food Bank.
Entire month of May
Mele Mei celebrates the unique music of Hawaii with workshops, concert performance and award ceremonies.
Lantern Floating Hawai‘i
Memorial Day, May 28 in 2012
Every year on Memorial Day, thousands of people 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 originating in Japan. The ceremony is based on the theme “Many Rivers, One Ocean,” and serves to honor those who have sacrificed their lives in war, pay respect to ancestors and loved ones who have passed away, and pray for a harmonious and peaceful future. Lantern Floating Hawaii also features live entertainment by local and international musicians, as well as inspiring speeches.
June 8 – 10 in 2012
The Pan-Pacific Festival is a three-day international cultural celebration that features a weekend of Pacific Rim cultural performances, demonstrations, hula, food, hoolaulea (block party). The event culminates with a colorful parade with thousands of participants in lively costumes marching down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.
King Kamehameha Floral Parade
June 9 in 2012
This colorful celebration honors the reign of King Kamehameha, who was responsible for uniting the Hawaiian Islands under his rule in 1795. The King Kamehameha Floral Paradeextends from Iolani Palace to Kapiolani Park and features brightly decorated floats, energetic marching bands and traditional pa‘u riders who represent a Hawaiian royal court on horseback.
July 4th/Independence Day Holiday
Hawaii celebrates Independence day with excellent fireworks shows on both July 3 and 4. For an idea of what this year’s celebration may entail, see this comprehensive round up of Oahu July 4th fireworks and celebrations.
Prince Lot Hula Festival
July 21 in 2012
The Prince Lot Hula Festival is held in the beautiful Moanalua Gardens, features hula halau (troupes) gracing the hula mound for spectators to enjoy. The festival showcases Native Hawaiian culture through crafts, kapa making, lauhala weaving, lomilomi massage, traditional Hawaiian games, and more.
Late August (Specific Dates TBA)
Duke’s OceanFest, a weeklong festival, features a variety of exciting water sports competitions, including longboard surfing, surf polo, swimming, standup paddling, and other events that pay tribute to the surfing and swimming legend Duke Kahanamoku. The festivities culminate with the Duke’s Statue lei draping ceremony on August 24, the anniversary of his birthday.
Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival
Following a successful inaugural year, the second annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival will once again take place in Honolulu in September 2012. The festival includes culinary-focused events and evening receptions featuring dishes prepared by an all-star lineup of chefs from Hawaii and around the world, using locally sourced ingredients. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is co-chaired by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong and serves to showcase the state’s bounty of produce and proteins and highlight the islands’ return to a sustainable eco-system of agriculture, environment and economy
September 15 and September 22 in 2012
On Oahu, the Aloha Festival celebrates Hawaii’s music, dance and history, and is intended to preserve the islands’ unique traditions. Festivities on Oahu include a Waikiki Ho‘olaulea on September 15 and a floral parade on September 22.
Hawai‘i International Film Festival
Spring Showcase is April 6-12 in 2012; Fall Showcase is in October
The Hawaii International Film Festival is dedicated to the advancement of understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and North America through the medium of film. HIFF showcases independent feature films and is held at the Signature Dole Cannery Theatres each spring and fall. Expect the very best and latest in independent and global cinema
Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
November 12 – December 20 in 2012
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing returns to the North Shore of Oahu for the men’s series and women’s Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach. Kicking off with the Op Pro at Haleiwa, the series continues with the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing and women’s Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach, and lastly the Billabong Pipeline Masters at the famous Banzai Pipeline. Oahu’s North Shore is home to these final events on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) calendar that will crown surfing’s new world champion
If you can’t include any of these festivals we’ve mentioned, don’t worry, there’s almost always a festival or celebration of some kind happening on Oahu. To find out what special events might be going on during your Oahu vacation, visit GoHawaii.com/Oahu and use the Vacation Directory from the right column. Be sure to click on the Events tab first, then enter your desired dates.
Have you been to any of these Oahu festivals?