Table of Contents Hide
Attending a cultural festival is wonderful way to learn and appreciate music, dance, food, arts and crafts of any culture. It’s a delight to all the senses. Throughout the year, the Hawaiian Islands host cultural festivals for visitors and locals to celebrate Hawaii’s unique, diverse and rich cultures.
We have always enjoyed catching a cultural festival during our visits to Hawaii. One thing that we’ve learned is that these festivals are often so much more involved than what their titles might suggest. For example, one year we got to experience the Kona Coffee Festival and it turned out to be way more than just coffee tasting. There was a parade, concerts, food and arts and crafts, too. Another year, we were in Kauai for Lei Day (May 1st) and the events were much more than just displays of beautiful lei. There was a royal court presentation, cultural demonstrations, music and more.
It’s been four years since we last published the January-through-April list of festivals. In the last year, more Hawaii cultural festivals are starting to have a resurgence. We’re optimistic that 2024 will almost be back to pre-2020 normalcy.
We curate lists of the top cultural festivals three times per year in the following blocks:
- January through April
- May through August (publishing in April)
- September through December (publishing in August)
To make the list of festivals “skimmable” for you to find the dates and island(s) that correspond to your vacation, we organize the festivals chronologically under each month. The format for each entry is:
Date (or date range) – Island – Event
To keep this list as streamlined as possible, we link to the events for you to learn more about them and get further details.
JANUARY CULTURAL FESTIVALS
January is typically a light month for cultural festivals. See the lists below of ongoing, weekly and monthly cultural events and cultural programs hosted by shopping centers.
FEBRUARY CULTURAL FESTIVALS
Entire month – Maui – Maui Whale Festival
3rd – 4th – Oahu – Ho’okipa Hawaii Weekend – A two-day community and culture event in Waikiki
3rd – Hawaii, Big Island – The 31st Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival
10th – All islands – Lunar/Chinese New Year – Some celebrations make take place on different days.
17th – 18th – Hawaii, Big Island – Panaewa Stampede Rodeo
17th – 25th – The 47th Annual Waimea Town Celebration
MARCH CULTURAL FESTIVALS
9th – 10th – Oahu – The 28th Annual Honolulu Festival
9th – Hawaii, Big Island – The 29th Annual Kona Brewers Festival
26th – All Islands – Prince Kuhio Day – This statewide holiday is observed on March 26th, but celebrations may take place on other dates as well. Check local newspapers for events, particularly on Kauai and Oahu.
29th – 30th – Maui – The 32nd Annual Celebration of the Arts
31st – Hawaii, Big Island – Opening day of the 61st Annual Merrie Monarch Festival
APRIL CULTURAL FESTIVALS
April 1st – 6th – The 61st Annual Merrie Monarch Festival – This is arguably the top cultural festival in all of Hawaii. It’s the most difficult ticket to secure. Even if you are not visiting Hawaii Island, you’ll likely be able to watch some of the performances on television stations throughout the Hawaiian Islands. This festival definitely makes the news.
4th – 6th – Hawaii (Big) Island – Kona Steel Guitar Festival
20th – Maui – The 28th Annual East Maui Taro Festival
20th – Hawaii (Big) Island – Laupahoehoe Music Festival
26th – 27th – Hawaii (Big) Island – The 13th Annual Big Island Chocolate Festival
27th – Oahu – Waikiki SPAM Jam Festival
There are some other festivals that we’ll continue to check for their announcements for 2024.
Hopefully you can incorporate one of the above festivals into your vacation to the Hawaiian Islands. If not, no worries. There are other opportunities to learn about Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures through ongoing events hosted by towns and through cultural programs at Hawaii shopping centers.
Ongoing Weekly or Monthly Cultural Events
The following cultural events are held throughout the year either on a weekly or monthly basis.
2nd Saturdays – Kauai – Lihue Saturday Night Market
2nd Sundays – Kauai – Princeville Night Market
4th Sundays – Kauai – Wailua Bay Creators Fair
Fridays – Maui – Maui Friday Town Parties rotating from town to town
Fridays – Kauai – Hanapepe Art Night
One Sunday designated per month – Hawaii, Big Island – Kokua Kailua Village Stroll
Note that we would have listed the Kuhio Beach Hula Show, which is held on Tuesdays, Saturdays and the last Sunday of each month at Waikiki Beach, but the program is not currently funded for 2024. We’ll keep an eye out for developments on this program.
Hawaii Shopping Centers That Host Cultural Programs
Many shopping centers throughout Hawaii host excellent cultural programs. This was a big surprise to us as we first started visiting Hawaii as our local shopping centers in North Carolina rarely offer anything of the sort for our local culture. Some typical examples of cultural programs that you might find in Hawaii shopping centers are:
- Music and hula performances
- Lei making
- Learning the ukulele
A few shopping centers even host small farmers markets, which is yet another way to get to know the locals. At these island farmers markets, you can purchase some locally grown fruits to enjoy on your adventures.
Cultural programs hosted by the shopping centers are generally free to enjoy and are ongoing throughout the year. (Of course these shopping centers hope that people will shop and dine in the center during their visit.)
Here are Hawaii shopping centers that regularly host cultural programs:
- Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki, Oahu
- Waikiki Beach Walk in Waikiki, Oahu
- International Market Place in Waikiki, Oahu
- Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Oahu
- Whalers Village in Kaanapali (Lahaina/Kaanapali) Maui
- Shops at Wailea in Wailea, Maui
- Lahaina Cannery Mall in Lahaina, Maui (All event cancelled until further notice)
- Coconut Marketplace in Kapaa, Kauai
- Poipu Shopping Center, in Poipu, Kauai
- Shops at Kukuiula in Poipu, Kauai
- Princeville Shopping Center in Princeville, Kauai
- Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort, Hawaii (Big) Island
- Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa Beach Resort, Hawaii (Big) Island
- Shops at Mauna Lani in Mauna Lani Resort, Hawaii (Big) Island
Other Opportunities to Discover Hawaiian Culture
Yes, there are still more options to appreciate the local culture.
- Many restaurants host live music on a daily basis. So, that’s a good opportunity to enjoy the local culture through music. The slack key guitar and ukulele are two instruments that Hawaii loves and you’ll likely enjoy.
- Many hotels offer their own cultural programs for their guests on a daily basis. Check with your hotel to find out what they offer. You might be able to take hula lessons and ukulele lessons and make a lei.
Have you attended a Hawaii cultural festival or program? Do you have plans to check one out on your upcoming visit?