Look at colorful, twinkling holiday parades, listen to island-inspired Christmas songs and pound—and eat—your own poi this month in Hawaii.
33rd Annual Honolulu City Lights
Honolulu City Lights is an annual tradition on Oahu, as Honolulu Hale transforms into the festive, twinkling home of Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele (aka Mr. and Mrs. Claus). The decorated city hall grounds are open in the evenings all month and include special events such as photos with Santa and live music. The festival kicks off on December 2 with the lighting of the 50-foot tree and the Electric Light Parade, featuring decorated city vehicles and school marching bands going from Chinatown through King Street. This year’s theme is “It’s a Zoo Out There,” in honor of the Honolulu Zoo. Fifty-six newly created animal-themed ornaments will be added to the holiday tree. honolulucitylights.org.
Holiday Pops featuring Amy Hanaialii
Tap your foot along to your favorite Christmas tunes as the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra joins forces with 18-time Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Amy Hanaialii for its annual Holiday Pops concert at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall. Amy Hanaialii will sing songs from her award-winning Christmas Album, “A Hawaiian Christmas,” including “Hamau E Na Kanaka” (Hark The Herald Angels Sing), “Po Laie” (Silent Night) and “Mele Kalikimaka.” Tickets range from $27 to $79, hawaiisymphonyorchestra.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. Huey and Cobra helicopters will be showcased, a highlight courtesy of the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. pearlharborparade.org.
Kalani Pea Performance at Queen Kaahumanu Center
Since it doesn’t snow in Hawaii, the Queen Kaahumanu Center brings the snow to Maui with its popular “Let it Snow!” experience. During the month of December, the shopping center’s courtyard becomes a winter wonderland when millions of snow-like bubbles fall on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. And on December 5 at 6:30 p.m., Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano award winning artist, Kalani Pea will be at the center for special live performance. Pea will sing original compositions, classics and holiday songs. The event is free, space is limited, and is first come, first served. queenkaahumanucenter.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—filled to the brim 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.
8th Annual Kalo Festival
Celebrate all things kalo (taro) at the eighth annual Kalo Festival in Hanalei Bay. 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. You can’t beat the picturesque location either. The festival is a fundraiser; admission is $5 for adults and $1 for keiki ages 3 to 18. waipafoundation.org/events.
5th Annual Feast on the Beach
The fifth annual Feast on the Beach is appropriately named. It’s an evening of enjoying locally sourced and made foods—think ahi, Kona crab, taro, local veggies, noodles and more—beer, wine and Kona coffee right along the sandy beach of Anaehoomalu Bay. While you nosh at the food stations, the tunes of Henry Kapono and Blayne Asing will keep you entertained. Even better, half of the proceeds benefit local Hawaii Island nonprofits, including the Kona Community Hospital Foundation, Hospice of Kona, North Hawaii Hospice, Lava Kids and Hawaii Island Humane Society. Tickets are $100. lavalavabeachclub.com.
Christmas Light Parade and Hoolaulea
The merry march starts with “only-on-Molokai” floats and includes a performance by a marching unit. A hoolaulea (celebration) follows, with live entertainment by local keiki (children) and the naming of the best marching units and floats. Kaunakakai, Molokai, molokaievents.com.