August is prime time for vacationers traveling to Oahu. It’s the height of the summer season and there is much to see and do, plus the weather and ocean conditions are fantastic. Festivals are planned, cultural events take place and ongoing activities keep the weekends fresh and exciting. Summer is a fun time of year for visitors and locals alike, so if you happen to be at the Gathering Place during the month of August, here are my top 5 events to check out.

Made in Hawaii Festival. Friday, August 15 – Sunday the 17, Neil Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
The first time I went to this I was blown away. I could not believe how many talented people came together in one space, and how many unique things there were to discover. The Made in Hawaii Festival is a chance for Hawaii’s artists, jewelers, chefs, seamstresses, farmers, crafters and entreprenuers to display their talents to Oahu, and they come from all over the state to be part of it all.

This really is a great place to discover the new trends of Hawaii, like jewelry designs, photography, apparel and edible flavors. Plus, it’s the ULTIMATE place to purchase souvenirs because, as its name implies, everything is made in Hawaii. If you’re looking for unique gifts to bring back home, like local jams and honeys, artisan macadamia nuts or scented soaps and candles, be sure to check this festival out. The cost is $5 per person, kids 6 years and younger are free.

Duke’s OceanFest. Saturday, August 16th – Sunday, August 24th, Waikiki
This is entertainment at its finest! Duke’s OceanFest is a 9-day event that features competitions, demos and games in the water and on the beach. From surfing and paddleboard races to volleyball and surf polo, each sport that’s part of this event was held near and dear to the famous Duke Kahanamoku, hence ‘Duke’s’ OceanFest.

The event takes place each summer at Waikiki and is put on by the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation. Not only is Duke’s Ocean Fest dedicated to celebrating Hawaii’s water sports community, but it’s also meant to perpetuate the legacy that Duke left behind. This is a great opportunity to experience the local beach culture and watch athletes in their true element- the ocean of Hawaii.

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival. Sunday, August 17th, Kapiolani Park
For the 32nd year in a row, the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival will take place at the Queen Kapiolani Bandstand from noon until 6:00pm. Basically a 6-hour concert, this is a great way to enjoy the outdoors on a Sunday afternoon and listen to one of Hawaii’s classic art forms.

Sit amongst the bleachers in the shade of the banyan trees or mosey through the various booths and vendors. There will be local food and merchandise for sale, exhibitions and more, and for any ukulele and guitar aficionados out there, the Taylor and Kanilea displays are a must see!

Hawaii Polo. Every Sunday in August, Hawaii Polo Club, Mokuleia
A favorite Sunday activity among North Shore residents, watching the polo matches is a wonderful way to spend a relaxing Sunday. If you’re staying in town, you’ll have to travel about 30 miles to Mokuleia, which is near Haleiwa. The price for admission is $10 and you can either walk in to watch the match from the bleachers or drive in and tailgate it. I recommend bringing your car, a picnic and chairs and arriving early, since all the spots along the water fill up quick.

Gates open at 11:00am and the game starts around 2:00pm, and once you’re in the field you can access the beach and swim, buy food and drinks, or just sit back and relax. The games begin with a pony parade, and the halftime show is a thrilling aerial performance from skydivers. As the sun sets, the crowd continues to mingle and party to live music and you can even chat with the polo players after the game.

Bon Dances. Fridays & Saturdays in August, island-wide.
Beginning in June and lasting through September, Bon dances are a very popular event for locals and tourists alike. A wonderful way to experience local culture and customs, bon dances are vibrant and colorful with dancing, live music and food. Free for all to enjoy, Bon dances usually begin between 5:00 and 7:00pm and last until 10:00pm.

Watch as dancers perform choreographed routines or jump right in and learn the moves yourself! The Bon-Odori (Bon dance) is a slow and relatively simple dance to learn, so don’t be intimidated. While many of the dancers have participated in practice sessions beforehand, they encourage new people to join the circle and celebrate. Bon dances are a wholesome event the whole family can enjoy, and the perfect way to spend an evening on Oahu. Here’s a schedule of Bon dances happening in August 2014 on the island:

1 & 2 (7pm): Palolo Higashi Hongwanji: 1641 Palolo Ave, Honolulu, HI
1 & 2 (6pm – 9:30pm): Waipahu Soto Zen Temple Taiyoji: 94-413 Waipahu St, Waipahu, HI
1 & 2 (5pm – 10pm): Manoa Koganji Temple: 2869 Oahu Ave, Honolulu, HI
2 (6pm): Waialua Hongwanji Mission: 67-313 Kealohanui St, Waialua, HI
8 & 9 (7pm – 11pm): Shingon Shu Hawaii: 915 Sheridan Street, Honolulu, HI
8 & 9 (5:30pm): Pearl City Hongwanji Mission: 858 2nd St, Pearl City, HI
8 & 9 (7:30pm – 10:30pm): Soto Mission of Aiea Taiheiji: 99-045 Kauhale St, Aiea, HI
15 & 16 (7:30pm – 10:30pm): Soto Mission of Hawaii Shoboji: 1708 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI
15 & 16 (6:30pm – 9:30pm): Jodo Mission of Hawaii: 1429 Makiki St, Honolulu, HI
15 & 16 (5pm – 10:30pm): Mililani Hongwanji Mission: 95-297 Kaloapau St, Mililani, HI
23 (7pm): Aiea Honwanji Mission: 99-186 Puakala St, Aiea, HI
23 (Time TBD): Nichiren Mission of Hawaii: 33 Pulelehua Way, Honolulu, HI
30 & 31 (5:30pm – 9:30pm): Okinawan FestivalKapiolani Park, Waikiki, HI (Festival: 9am – 5pm)


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