Lei and Spam festivals in Hawaii

Hawaii celebrates everything, but late April brings festivities you’re only likely to find in these islands. Taking in an event like this during your Hawaii Vacation will make your trip to the islands even more memorable. The Waikiki Spam Jam is on a Saturday evening and Honolulu’s annual Lei Day Celebration is on May 1, where flowers and music fill Kapiolani Park near Waikiki.

On Saturday, Kalakaua Avenue (one of the main streets through Waikiki) is closed and two entertainment stages are set up on the street. Between them, there are food booths from many local restaurants with their signature Spam creations. In addition to crafts, organizers say there will be a family tent. I’m sure families have a great time, and there is no admission charge. However, it begins at 4 pm and continues to 10 pm and drew 20,000 people last year, so I’m thinking that earlier is better than later for folks with little ones. One of the hula performances is right at 4:30 on the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel Stage, so you can get an early start. Other performances are hourly on the half-hour on that stage, and at the top of the hour on the International Market Place Stage. The fun wraps up at 10 pm.

2011 was the ninth year for the Spam Jam. Organizers note that almost seven million cans of Spam are eaten every year in Hawaii. That is, not surprisingly, more Spam consumption per person than any other state. What is surprising is the variety of ways Spam is served here. Some recipes (including “spamakopita” from a local Greek restaurant) are available on the spamjamhawaii.com website.

The 84th annual Lei Day Celebration was on Sunday at the Queen Kapiolani Park Bandstand from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation puts on this free annual event, which displays local talent in lei-making, hula and song.

The entertainment includes Hawaiian music and a steel guitar concert; it runs from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The lei exhibit is open during the afternoon, as is “Tutu’s Hale” (Grandma’s House) which will have stories, songs, hula, lei making and lauhala weaving for keiki (children) and their ohana (family). Without question, families would find this to be an enjoyable way to learn about Hawaii in an afternoon.


9 a.m. Royal Hawaiian Band

10 a.m. Na Wahine O Ka Hula Mai Ka Puuwai

11 a.m. Lei Queen and Court Investiture Ceremony

12:30 p.m. Official Opening of the Lei Contest Exhibit

12:45 p.m. Kapena

2 p.m. Halau Hula O Hakulani

3 pm. Melveen Leed

4 p.m. Rebel Souljahz

4:45 p.m. Nesian N.I.N.E

5:30 p.m. Announcements and closing

The lei day celebration is sponsored by Hawaiian Electric Company, Times Supermarket, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and is attended by thousands of visitors and residents each year.

These photos are of last year’s Lei Day celebration, graciously provided through Lei Day organizers. They are copyrighted by Minako Kent of Beyond Borders Images.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher