So, you’re in Hawaii on Thanksgiving on Oahu this year — and you’re ready to start the season off right. Here’s our guide to finding the best holiday kick-off events in Hawaii.

Waikiki Holiday Parade: Nov. 25, Kalakaua Ave.

If this is your first Thanksgiving on Oahu, then experiencing the Waikiki Holiday Parade is a must. It’s a great way to begin the holiday season and a fantastic way to absorb the Thanksgiving energy and unique Hawaiian culture all at once.  Expect thousands of marchers ranging from musical and dance performances to local organizations and groups.

Originally designed to commemorate the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks, the parade now combines this great cause with tons of holiday fun.

And, just wait ’til you see the variety of participants. For example, you’ll get to enjoy performances by 38 different bands from Oahu, the mainland, and more! The parade terminates in Queen Kapiolani Park and is free for all to watch.

Getting In: Admission to the Waikiki Holiday Parade is free.

turkey trot logo

Photo: Turkey Trot

The Turkey Trot is for anyone who loves to run in paradise. But, the course is ten miles long. So, the event can be moderately difficult.

Holiday Kick-off, Royal Hawaiian Center: Nov. 23

Each year, the Royal Hawaiian Center hosts a marvelous collection of events and appearances to “kick off” the holiday season. From festive musical performances to a visit with Santa and the official tree-lighting ceremony, the Holiday Kick-off is a fantastic way to welcome-in the season.

The kids will love the special seasonal activities designed just for them, and adults will enjoy the high energy and colorful decor.

Getting In: Admission to the Holiday Kickoff is free.

41st annual Turkey Trot, Nov. 24: Kapiolani Park Bandstand

Want to work-off your Thanksgiving calories BEFORE you eat? Then, sign-up for the 41st annual Turkey Trot!

The Turkey Trot is an ambitious ten-mile race for anyone (visitors included) who love to run and take advantage of Hawaii’s year-round beautiful weather.

Predict your time accurately and you might win a prize! Registration is still open,

Getting In: The Turkey Trot is free to watch, but runners require advance registration. More info about registration can be found at the event website.

a sand sculpture featuring snowmen

Photo: Sheraton Waikiki

Two sand sculptures are on display at the Sheraton Waikiki. The first one, completed on November 4 uses 8 tons of sand and portrays snowmen with surfboards in the hotel’s main lobby. The second sculpture in the Sheraton Waikiki Porte Cochere took 24 tons of sand and features bartender Santa serving up cocktails to his Frosty friends in a RumFire cabana. It took Harris and Koet about two weeks and more than 250 hours to complete the sculptures.

Christmas Sand Sculptures–Nov. to Dec.

With kids… without kids — it doesn’t matter who you are or from where you came. Seeing the Christmas sand sculptures at the Sheraton Waikiki is a must-do if you’re here for the holidays.

This will be the 10th consecutive Christmas, the Sheraton Waikiki will feature sand sculptures during the holidays. The 2016 version of the sculptures are known as “Snowmen on Vacation,” according to Jill Harris, one of two Sandsational sculptors along with Thomas Koet.

The first one, completed on November 4 uses 8 tons of sand and portrays snowmen with surfboards in the hotel’s main lobby. The second sculpture in the Sheraton Waikiki Porte Cochere took 24 tons of sand and features bartender Santa serving up cocktails to his Frosty friends in a RumFire cabana. It took Harris and Koet about two weeks and more than 250 hours to complete the sculptures.

Getting In: Sand sculpture viewing is free.

If you’re already staying at a hotel in Waikiki, you’re close to all the action. So, it’s easy to book a morning surf lesson through Hawaii Aloha Travel. Then, pack-up your board and head-out for a day of seasonal celebration.

So, make sure you give “thanks” for spending Thanksgiving on Oahu — and enjoy these fun events that are for visitors as much as they’re for locals!


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