Punahou Carnival Beyond the Midway

Chairs swinging on carnival ride
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Punahou Carnival Beyond the Midway

The coming weekend brings one of Oahu’s most popular events, attracting thousands of residents each year, the Punahou School Carnival. Like the annual Lantern Floating Festival, the 4th of July Fireworks at Magic Island, and the Aloha Festivals Parade, the carnival is a quintessential part of life for countless Oahu families. It’s a yearly ritual, a high school rite of passage for island students, and the result of thousands of hours of work by Punahou’s students, faculty, and staff. It started in 1932 as an effort to raise money for a yearbook.

Beyond the obvious attraction of the midway rides and games, and of the legendary food (you must have at least one sugary malasada), there are other aspects of the carnival that are reason alone for visitors to make the trip to Manoa for the carnival.

The White Elephant Tent at the carnival is a treasure trove of second hand goods. Items are collected year-round at the campus thrift store, and the selection of clothes and knick-knacks is vast. It’s a perfect opportunity for visitors to find a unique memento of their Hawaii vacation, the kind you won’t find in a Waikiki ABC Store. And with Punahou’s long history and many family legacies, you might just find something worthy of Antiques Roadshow.

The Book Sale at the Punahou Carnival has grown to mammoth proportions, and for many bibliophiles it’s the only reason to attend. It offers many dozens of stacks of rare titles and editions, much of it unique to Hawaiian history and culture. It’s perfect for picking up a beach-read or something to get you through the long flight back home.

The Senior Variety Show is an annual tradition at the Punahou Carnival. The senior class writes and choreographs the show, which features song, dance and comedy. It’s always entertaining, and a good indication of how astute, creative, and clever Hawaii’s academic elite really are.

The Art Gallery is another reason-enough to make it to the Punahou Carnival. This year’s gallery will feature more than 1,000 works by over 300 Hawaii artists. Paintings, photography, scultpture, ceramics, jewelry, pottery…a myriad of artistic media are on display for sale, but it’s also fun to make it a trip to a museum of modern art. Artists split sales with the school, so by making a purchase, you’re truly supporting a local artist or artisan.

So, go to the carnival. Ride the rides, play the games, indulge in the foods. But there are other reasons to go to the Punahou Carnival and if it rains (God forbid!), you’ll be glad to know where to take cover.

Proceeds raised during the carnival go toward Punahou School’s Financial Aid and Scholarship Fund.

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