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Hawaii’s best holiday season festivities

The Hawaii holiday season is upon us once again in the Aloha State. It’s true: we lack the makings of a “white Christmas”, roasting chestnuts, or jolly sleigh rides out here in the tropics. But there are dozens of holiday events in Hawaii to make even the staunchest holiday traditionalist feel at home during the holidays.

The biggest of them all is Honolulu City Lights at Honolulu Hale (City Hall). It begins on December 7, with a parade down King Street from Chinatown to the civic campus at Honolulu Hale and the Frank Fasi Municipal Building and the vast lawns it sits on. Sprawling monkey pod trees along the length of the parade are intricately strung with twinkling, multicolored lights. The event culminates with the official lighting of the tree, which is an improbably massive Norfolk Pine from Kapolei.

Honolulu City Lights Festival. Courtesy hon.gov

Honolulu City Lights runs through January 1, 2020. It features Santa and Mrs. Claus, towering nearly as high as City Hall itself, smiling and waving the “shaka” sign. Following the initial parade on December 7, the public is free to enjoy the many decorations and interactive displays for kids and grown-up kids alike. It is as close to a “winter wonderland” as we get in Hawaii, unless you happen to be caught in a winter storm at the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island or Haleakala on Maui (you’re not likely to).

There are also parades all over Oahu in the weeks leading up to the high holidays: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Kai’s Boat Parade, Kaneohe, Haleiwa…the list goes on and on. Here is a handy list of Oahu’s holiday festivals, parades and events.

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The signature event on Maui, the Valley Isle, is the Annual Lighting of the Banyan Tree Holiday Festival in Lahaina. The historic tree was planted in 1873 and has remained one of Maui’s most iconic and beloved features in the heart of Lahaina Town. Many of Maui’s resorts in Wailea, Makena, and Kaanapali offer their own holiday festivities each year as well.

On the Big Island (Hawaii Island), one of the most popular holiday events is the Holualoa Music and Lights Festival in Kona. But there are many more events all over the expansive island to choose from and enjoy during a Hawaii vacation during the holiday season. Click here for a full list.

Honolulu City Lights. Courtesy honolulu.gov

The Kauai Festival of Lights kicks off on Friday, December 6 at Lihue’s Historic County Building and runs through December 28. It features delightful lighting displays, food, entertainment and children’s activities. On Saturday, December 14, the 2019 Kauai Made Holly Jolly Holiday Fair features Kauai-made food, entertainment, and products for locals and visitors alike looking for the perfect gift from the Garden Isle.

Most of the imagery associated in the mainstream with the holiday season really is out of place in Hawaii. But that doesn’t discourage places like Shriners Hospital and a number of various public and private schools from holding “snow days”. Truckloads of are brought snow for kids to frolic in, many of whom have never seen snow outside of a movie or computer screen.

Hawaii, chilly and on fire.

We buy Christmas trees, decorate our lawns and lanais, buy or make gifts for our families and friends. We hear the constant jangle of Salvation Army collection bells while shopping and throw office Christmas parties. Part of all of that may be due to the fact that many people in Hawaii are only one or two generations removed from the first people in their families to arrive in Hawaii.

Like food, dance, music, and fashion, holiday season traditions from around the world have been imported to the Aloha State. They are now as much a part of the fabric of life in Hawaii during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere as any cold snap, shopping rush, or traffic jam are anywhere else.

We here at Hawaii Aloha Travel extend our warmest regards during the holiday season in Hawaii. We would love to help you plan the perfect Hawaii vacation any time of year. We have the local experts to make it happen.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny on Dec 15, 2019