Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu Memorial Day Events 2024

Punchbowl on Memorial Day with grave sites decorated with Hawaiian lei and American flags. Photo by D. Zuls.

With Oahu’s rich military history, the island makes a perfect place to honor Memorial Day. Here’s what’s happening this Memorial Day Weekend around Oahu.

Oahu Events on Memorial Day, May 27, 2024

73rd Annual Honolulu City Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony

This annual event is held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl (also known as Puowaina) in Honolulu. The ceremony features color guard, wreath presentation, firearm salute, and performances by the Sounds of Aloha Chorus and other tributes. The ceremony begins promptly at 8:30 am. See this link for more information on this year’s ceremony. Hawaii News Now created this nice segment summarizing the ceremony from last year. It should give you a good idea of what to expect at this moving event.
This event is free and open to the public. Parking will be extremely limited. TheBus may be providing special service. See this link for details for TheBus. Check this link for more details on parking and transportation to be posted closer to Memorial Day.

Local boy scouts and girl scouts will be making and placing a lei and an American flag on gravesites on Sunday, May 26. Approximately 38,000 leis are made by the community for this event. >> Even if you are unable to attend the Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony, it’s still special to visit Punchbowl on Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day Lantern Floating Ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park

The annual Shinnyo lantern floating event at Ala Moana Beach Park returns again this year. More than 30,000 people are likely to participate in this event. The lantern floating ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m.  See this link for more information. Also, see this video summary from last year’s ceremony.

Shinnyo Lantern Floating Memorial Day event at Ala Moana Beach

Other Oahu special events taking place on Memorial Day Weekend

50th State Fair

The 50th State Fair kicks off Memorial Day weekend at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It features rides, games, food and entertainment as it runs this year from May 24th through July 7th. For more information, see this link and this link.

Relevant and meaningful activities for Memorial Day Weekend in Oahu

In addition to visiting Punchbowl as we’ve previously mentioned, there are some other significant memorial sites to visit on Oahu. Our number one suggestion would be to go to Pearl Harbor. Visiting Pearl Harbor is certainly a worthy way to honor Memorial Day and/or the purpose of this holiday weekend.

The image below identifies all the key points of interest of Pearl Harbor and gives you an orientation of where sites are.

Admission to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is free. There are excellent, though slightly distant views of the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and other historic memorials and mooring sites from the shoreline. Closer into shore, near the Pearl Harbor National Memorial Museum, you can see the exterior of the USS Bowfin submarine.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial hovers above the sunken battleship in the harbor waters. You can view the memorial from the harbor shoreline, however to access the memorial, you must take a boat ride that is operated by the U.S. Navy. It is a very moving place to pay respects for those who sacrificed all on December 7, 1941.

Ideally, you’ve planned ahead and secured a reservation ($1 fee per person) to take the boat ride to the memorial. If not, you can try to secure a reservation at 3:00 p.m. the day before you hope to visit. This is the webpage to book reservations. If you can’t get a reservation for the boat ride, you can still take in a view of the memorial from the harbor’s shoreline.

Battleship Missouri Memorial

This retired battleship makes a great place to visit to honor the day. Visiting hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. See this link for visiting and ticketing details as well as my article with advice for touring the Mighty Mo.

USS Bowfin Submarine
This submarine was used as an attack vessel with a significant history in World War II. You can get a good view of the exterior from Pearl Harbor. If you have time, the tour is interesting. See our article about touring the USS Bowfin.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
The aviation museum displays many historic aircraft and there’s a WWII era watchtower, too. See our article on touring the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
Visit the Oklahoma and Utah memorials
Though not as widely known, there are two other battleship memorials in Pearl Harbor — USS Utah and the USS Oklahoma, which are accessible to the public via the Ford Island bus tour program.

We wish you a very safe and heartfelt Memorial Day!