Honolulu City Lights
Starting to feel that jingle bell cheer? Drive downtown to see Honolulu’s Christmas displays, such as the larger-than-life statues of Mr. and Mrs. Claus throwing shakas. The opening night tree lighting ceremony happens on Dec. 7, but be sure to get there early or the traffic might make you feel like a bit of a Grinch. Honolulu, Oahu, honolulucitylights.org.
Hawaii’s largest marathon, which attracts runners from around the world, takes you down some of Oahu’s most scenic roads, including Kalakaua Avenue, Diamond Head Road and Kalanianaole Highway. If you’re intimidated by the 26.2-mile run, the Start to the Park 10K is an easier option and takes you from one end of Waikiki to the other. Honolulu, Oahu, honolulumarathon.org.
Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade
Marking the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, marching bands from across the country join together in Hawaii as they make their way from Fort DeRussy to the Waikiki Shell. Military families can walk in the parade, or ride along in the Honolulu Trolley, waving to paradegoers lining the route. Waikiki, Oahu, pearlharborparade.org.
Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Classes at The Royal Hawaiian Resort
Want to up your holiday dessert game? Attend one, or both, of the cookie and cupcake decorating classes hosted by The Royal Hawaiian Resort and taught by the resort’s very own pastry chefs. On Dec. 19, chef Miki Iwai will teach participants how to stack star-shaped cookies to create a gingerbread Christmas tree, and on Dec. 21, chef Kristie Sagara will teach you how to create a Christmas wreath out of cupcakes. Waikiki, Oahu, call (808) 931-7912 or email RH.GuestExperience@LuxuryCollection.com to reserve your seat.
Visit Santa at the Haleiwa Store Lots
Just in case you needed another reason to visit the charming surf town of Haleiwa, jolly ol’ Mr. Claus will be at the Haleiwa Store Lots just days before Christmas. This free family event will let keiki (children) meet Santa while parents peruse the many shops for any last-second holiday gifts. Haleiwa, Oahu, storelots.wpengine.com.
Festival of Lights
The Kauai community bands together to create a display of holiday cheer at its historic county building. It is a tradition sparked in 1996 by Auntie Josie Chansky, who would open her own home—packed to the rafters with handmade ornaments—for families to view. Ornaments are made of recycled materials and volunteers work day in and day out to decorate the space for public viewing, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December. Lihue, Kauai, kauaifestivaloflights.com.
Waipa Foundation Kalo Festival
Celebrate all things kalo (taro) at the annual Kalo Festival. The festival is organized by the Waipa Foundation, a nonprofit that manages the 1,600-acre ahupuaa (land division) of Waipa, home to thriving wetland kalo terraces. The kalo festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features poi pounding and demonstrations, educational displays, a kalo recipe contest, kalo food booths, crafts, a silent auction and live music. Hanalei, Kauai, waipafoundation.org/events.
Maui Songwriters Festival
For three days, songwriters from around the globe will convene on Maui to share their music and the stories behind their creative processes. Many of the performances will be intimate, low-key live concerts with artists like Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Tavana and more. Various locations, Maui, mauisongwritersfestival.com.
Jingle Bell Beach Run
If you see hundreds of runners wearing Santa hats, reindeer antlers and big smiles heading down Alii Drive this December, don’t be surprised—it’s just the Big Island’s holiday-themed 5K run. Participants aren’t just judged on their times, but also on their costumes, with the three best-dressed participants winning prizes. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island, kona5k.com.
Christmas Tree Lighting Festival
Presented by the Lanai Community Association, little Lanai City’s very own Christmas tree will be lit at this homey holiday event. Expect tons of booths and family friendly vendors in front of the Dole Admin Building, and Santa Claus will even take time out of his busy schedule and make an appearance for the keiki. Lanai City, Lanai, lanaipineapplefestival.com/Christmas/Christmas.htm.