Honolulu Travel Guides

January

Ala Wai Challenge: on the final weekend of January, Waikiki’s Ala Wai Park is transformed into a free-for-all of traditional Hawaiian games. Visitors who tramp down to this beachside park will find hundreds of locals engaged in spear throwing, tug of war and other fun activities.

February

Chinese New Year: Hawaii’s small but energetic Chinese community puts on a great show for their annual New Year. The Chinatown Cultural Plaza in downtown Honolulu features traditional performances, music, martial arts and other fun events.

March

Honolulu Festival: this free fun annual festival promotes the culture and art of Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Venues throughout Honolulu are filled with musicians, artists, and performers who come to showcase their traditions and talents. It’s one of the city’s highlights and a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

May

World Fireknife Dance Competition: in this extraordinary event, Polynesian fireknife dancers converge on Honolulu to see who is the best at this ancient and dangerous art. The dance has its origins in traditional pre-war rituals and sacred dances designed to pump up the warriors before going into battle. It’s an amazing site to witness.

June

Pan-Pacific Festival: drums, dancers and colourful parades fill the streets of Honolulu for this annual celebration of Pacific Island culture. The purpose is to maintain close ties between Hawaiians and other Pacific Island nations by showcasing each culture’s unique art, music, dance and food. It’s an amazing and energetic scene well worth attending.

Taste of Honolulu: this wonderful event is Hawaii’s largest outdoor event featuring food, wine and entertainment. Held at the Honolulu Civic Centre, many of the islands’ top restaurants come to show off their cuisine as Hawaii’s best musicians play traditional music.

Hawaii International Jazz Festival: Honolulu’s premier annual jazz event happens each July at the Sheraton Waikiki. There’s a full schedule over several days featuring top jazz artists from Hawaii and around the world. Outdoor evening concerts and jam sessions are just two of the highlights.

August

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival: the unique sounds of the slack key guitar are one of the mainstays of Hawaii’s musical heritage. The world’s finest players come to Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park each August to perform with each other and help preserve this distinctly Hawaiian form of music.

Pacific Island Taro Festival: a celebration of the music, dance, drumming, and storytelling traditions of Pacific Islanders is the focus of this interesting cultural event at Windward Community College. A wonderful farmers’ market provides tasty local dishes, including many based on taro.

September

Floral Parade: the colourful fragrant flower necklaces known as leis are an icon of the Hawaiian islands. This festival showcases the islands’ abundance of floral beauty with parades featuring flower-covered floats, pa’u riders, and marching bands through the streets of Honolulu. This parade is so popular it’s shown on national television.

October

Moloka’I Hoe Outrigger Canoe Championship: the outrigger canoe is as important to Hawaiian heritage as the wheel was to ground transportation. This boat has its roots entrenched in Polynesian culture and history and each year this long-distance race proves who is the world’s best. To witness a fascinating aspect of Hawaiian culture, head to the finish line at Waikiki Beach.

November

World Invitational Hula Festival: this celebration of Hawaii’s relationship with nature showcases traditional art, language, culture and dance. Artists from around the islands and the globe come to the Waikiki Shell to perform both traditional (‘Olapa) and contemporary (‘Auana) hula dancing to the delight of onlookers.

December

Billabong Pipeline Masters: this annual surfing competition at Ehukai Beach on Oahu’s North Shore is the biggest event in the surfing world. Riders compete on the legendary waves of Banzai Pipeline, which form massive churning barrels. Banzai Pipeline is one of the planet’s most hardcore waves, and watching the world’s best surfers ride it is an incredible experience.