Oahu Festivals Provide Culture and Entertainment Year Round

Categorized as Oahu Vacation Information

Authentic Island Celebrations Provide Insight Into Local Culture

Lei Day
Everyone in Hawaii knows that “May Day is Lei Day.”

All through the year people in Hawaii give and receive colorful and fragrant floral leis – for birthdays, graduations, greetings and departures, anniversaries, and just to say thank you! Statues of King Kamehameha, Duke Kahanamoku, and other revered Hawaiians are draped with leis on their birthdays, and these leis are often comprised of many, many thousands of flowers.

Hawaii’s Lei Day on May 1 brings even more prominence to this island lei tradition as the best lei makers demonstrate their unqiue craft with every type of exotic and fragrant flowers. Lei making contests are held throughout the islands, including in many schools that also have festive Lei Day celebrations which often include picking a Lei Day king and queen.

Hawaii State Farm Fair
Experience Hawaii country style in mid-July at this festive fair sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation. Lots of fun farm fair events are held, including the 4-H Livestock exhibition.

Enjoy fresh island produce from many local farms at the Country Market. The Fair also includes a major plant sale.

Hawaii International Film Festival
Hawaii’s highly-respected East-West Center holds this annual film festival that features some of the best films from all around the world.

Though the Hawaii International Film Festival began in 1981 with just seven international films, today more than one hundred films are screened at more than two dozen locations on six of the Hawaiian Islands.

Giving added respect to this film festival is that the Chicago-based and nationally known film critic Roger Ebert is an annual participant.

Cherry Blossom Festival
Taking place in the spring, the Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the Japanese culture and the rich heritage of Japanese in the islands. Like the Chinese, the Japanese came to the islands in great numbers during the sugarcane era and went on to become prominent members of Hawaiian society.

Some of the signature events of the Cherry Blossom Festival are the Hawaii International Taiko (Drum) Festival and the celebrated Heritage Fair.  The Cherry Blossom Festival ends with the Festival Ball and the choosing of the Cherry Blossom Queen and her Court.

Taste of Honolulu
Taking place in June, this three day feast of the finest Hawaiian cuisine foods will tantalize your palate with an explosion of flavors that will leave you wondering how food could taste so good – it isn’t a meal, it is a full sensory experience!

The Taste of Honolulu takes place over a three day period and is a benefit for Easter Seals Hawaii. Quite popular, as many as 50,000 people will experience the delightful dishes, and the islands’ most famous chefs give cooking demonstrations and display their prized dishes. Add to the fun some of the best island entertainment and you have an experience you won’t soon forget.

Chinese New Year
Hawaii has a huge Chinese population due to the early influx of Chinese workers to the sugar plantations. Many of these workers finished out their sugar contracts and went on to start businesses and integrate into every aspect of Hawaiian life.

This large Chinese population in the islands makes for a very festive Chinese New Year celebration that includes the renown Lion Dance and bountiful feasts.

The festival takes place in early February, and one way you will know it is happening is by the sounds of many, many thousands of firecrackers exploding! This is also a great time to visit Honolulu’s Chinatown and experience some of the best aspects of the Chinese culture firsthand.

King Kamehama Day Celebration
Every June there are numerous events that honor the birthday of Hawaii’s renown and beloved warrior King Kamehameha the Great. A wonderful floral parade takes place on Oahu and makes its way thought the streets of Honolulu and Waikiki, culminating at Kapiolani Park.

King Kamehameha Day is also celebrated with an international hula competition as well as a Folklife Festival and Hawaiian music concerts.

Honolulu City Lights
In early December smiles light up on children’s faces when the city Christmas tree is lit up with colors that permeate the Hawaiian night.

The lighting of the tree means that the Honolulu City Lights Electric Light Parade has begun, and Hawaii’s Civic Center and all City Deparment buildings are aglow. This signals that the holiday season has begun in the islands.

Prince Lot Hula Festival
Moanalua Gardens is the site of this authentic Hawaiian festival that takes place on the third Saturday of every July.

This is a non-competitive hula event with a strong focus on the Hawaiian culture, and it is the oldest and also the largest event of its kind.

The Festival was named for the beloved Prince Lot who later became King Kamehameha V and was a very dedicated enthusiast and promoter of the Hawaiian culture.

Visitors who attend this unique celebration of Hawaii’s very finest hula will be touched deeply by the tradition and culture that resonates through every aspect of the celebration.

Aloha Festivals
For a whole month beginning in the middle of September various festivities are celebrated all over Oahu as well as on the other Hawaiian Islands.

Each island chooses a Royal Court and the many events include parades adorned with every manner of flowers, concerts featuring old-style as well as contemporary Hawaiian music, arts and craft fairs, and sporting events.

Visitors will be delighted to see the true Aloha of Hawaii’s people as demonstrated during the Aloha Festivals.

Some other great events in Hawaii include the bi-annual Transpacific Yacht Race, UH Warrior football games, the Honolulu Marathon (December), the Hawaii Bowl (Christmas Day), the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (Dec./Jan.) and the Great Aloha Run (February).