Festivals in Honolulu: 14 Festivals to Experience the Local and Traditional Flavors of Honolulu

A perfect tourist destination Hawaii leaves behind its cultural essence in its capital city of Honolulu and its county regions. There is always a good time to visit the city but it becomes best when you get to experience various festivals in Honolulu celebrating its local traditions, legends, folk tales and dynamic culture. The city houses some brilliant and peaceful blend of Asian and Pacific culture which gives root to the entirety of its belief system and practices. It remains the busiest and most happening place among the islands hosting multiple events, attractions, adventures, culinary brilliance and festivals throughout the year inside its limits.

This capital city of Hawaii is much more than its pristine shorelines and picturesque landscapes. It is a land of Aloha and of legends professing peace and perseverance for all of nature. Its people and culture form the spirit of Hawaii. Hence the local and traditional festivals in Honolulu are celebrated for the purpose of revealing life, art, music, sports, local culinary practices, legends and everything related to cultural diversity of Hawaiian Islands. So, for the next time that you visit the Hawaiian capital, here is the list of annual festivals in Honolulu for you to experience the legend of its layered culture.

14 Wonderful Festivals in Honolulu

1. Honolulu Festival

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The most famous cultural festival in Honolulu remains a centre for tourists as well as locals. The Honolulu festival celebrates and honours the diverse blend of culture hosted by the Hawaiian Islands. Packed with powerful performances from over thousands of people, the festival exhibits art, music, dance, ethnic amity, mutual cooperation and above all, Aloha. Attend the 2 day festival in Honolulu if you seek to understand the cultural moulding of Hawaii. It is a unique way to attract so many people for the purpose of understanding the importance of family, Aloha, cultural unity and values. The last event of the festival is a parade at the Kalakaua Avenue which remains its key highlight. So, plan your dates accordingly.  
When: 1st week of March

2. Lei Day Celebration

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May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. This popular saying has all its literal truth making it the largest festival in Honolulu and all of the other islands. The Kapiolani Park becomes a key venue for the celebration as it holds multiple demonstrations of long strands of lei, lei-making competitions, food, hula, craft and live music. This free event emphasises the cultural dynamics of Hawaii by bringing together families, locals and tourists as well. Experience the true meaning of warmth, welcome and Aloha as you attend this festival in Honolulu.
When: May 1st

 3. King Kamehameha Floral Parade

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The parade beginning from the King Kamehameha Statue in Downtown Honolulu proceed towards the Kapiolani Park in Waikiki and in the duration of its momentous procession, it exhibits bright floats, pau riders on horsebacks, live music, hula performances, food and art to honour the Hawaiian royal court. Celebrating King Kamehameha, this festival in Honolulu becomes a legendary event in spite of its popularity on all the other islands of Hawaii. Attend the festival to witness beautiful cascades of flowers decorations and to experience the spirit of aloha.
When: June 11

4. Prince Lot Hula Festival

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The largest non-competitive hula event featuring traditional Hawaiian games and crafts is celebrated in the honour of Prince Lot Kapuāiwa. Hosted by the beautiful garden of Moanalua in the month of July, the festival celebrates the Prince for bringing back the once outlawed art of Hula. You can stroll through the gorgeous canopy in the gardens as you taste the culinary brilliance of Hawaii on various food booths. The booths exhibit multiple cultural artifacts and practices for the locals to share with the tourists as they venture out to understand the spirit of aloha. So, don’t forget to include the Prince Lot Hula Festival in Honolulu when you visit in the month of July.
When: July

 5. Aloha Festival

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The largest cultural celebration of the state, the Aloha festival exhibits numerous aspects of Hawaiian culture including its classical music, dance and history. This September festival in Honolulu shares the state’s spirit of Aloha with thousands of visitors and locals attending the weeklong festivities. Visit the festival to live through the overwhelming traditional legacies of local folk tales. Beginning with a vibrant procession of horse riders wearing long skirts, hula halau, cascades of Hawaiian flowers and marching bands on the Kalākaua Avenue, the festival merges into the fun street party called Ho’olaule which features Hawaiian music and excellent cuisines. The parade and the Ho’olaule remain the key highlights of the festival.
When: September

6. Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

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A famous sports event for the adventure seekers, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is a renowned festival in Honolulu which registers over thousands of visitors each year. It features brilliant surfers riding some of the best waves in the world. The Pacific by the capital city of Hawaii serves host to the thrill-seeking crowd from all over the world making the city quite a happening space. You can find the crowd arriving inside the city from the late November and it continues till the dawn of December. Find your spots and plan your trip accordingly to attend this unique sports festival in Honolulu.
When: Late November through early December

7. Chinese New Year

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Chinatown in Honolulu has been forever known for its celebration of Chinese New Year. The festivities begin in the early January and preceding the actual date of the new year, it hosts multiple events to ring in the coming year. With beautiful red lanterns floating through the streets, it becomes a beautiful sight to behold and capture. Visit the Chinatown Cultural Plaza to attend many of the culturally dynamic events. The festival adds to the beauty of celebrating new year in the aloha state of Hawaii. So, bask in the cultural diversity of Hawaii while attending this unique festival in Honolulu.
When: January 17 and 18

8. Mele Mei

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A month-long celebration of Hawaiian Music, the Mele Mei festival in Honolulu presents the tourists and the locals with some very special and unique music series. Running throughout the month of May, the festival has many glamorous highlights including the famous Na Hokuhanohano Awards which is known as the Hawaiian version of the Grammys. Attend any of its concerts and performances to witness the cultural vibrancy of Hawaiian classical music as the performers hail from the top of their respective fields. This music festival in Honolulu caters to the taste of most of the tourists. So, plan your travel dates accordingly.
When: May

9. Lantern Floating Festival

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On the evening of Memorial Day, people of Honolulu honour and remember their loved ones who have passed on by lighting the red Japanese lanterns. This festival in Honolulu is artistically celebrated as a day of remembrance by the locals. The Ala Moana Beach Park gets flooded with thousands of people as they leave their lanterns on the gentle waters of the Pacific to float into the gorgeous sunset. The picturesque beauty of thousands of floating lanterns is a sight to behold and capture. Take your paper or wooden lanterns with you and send them into the Pacific water as you remember them. Attend this unique and culturally significant festival in Honolulu on your next trip to Hawaii.
When: Memorial Day

10. Ukulele Festival

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Hawaii and Ukulele is a musical love story which has popularised the instrument over the entire globe. So, if you want to listen to the ukulele in all its beauty, there is no place better than the Hawaiian Islands. The chain islands play host to multiple ukulele events and concerts but the one in July under the skies of Kapiolani Park remains as the largest ukulele festival in the world. This festival in Honolulu has gained huge popularity across time because of the brilliant performances by local and popular ukulele players. Make the festival a part of your travel itinerary if you happen to love the melodious notes of ukulele.
When: July 19

 11. Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival

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One of the oldest festivals in Honolulu that can be traced back to the 1980s, the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival is a musical afternoon celebrating the genre of Slack Key Guitar. The afternoon stage is graced by the experts and popular artists of this genre for the music enthusiasts, tourists as well as locals in Honolulu. You can spend your time while relishing the flavours of slack key guitar as the artists play and experiment with some of the brilliant varieties of styles on their guitars. So, check the dates for it to attend this beautiful and musical festival in Honolulu on your next trip.
When: August

 12. Mayjah Rayjah

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The city of Honolulu becomes a power ground for reggae music during the month of July as it welcomes a huge crowd of popular reggae artists on its grounds. Mayjah Rayjah, a famed music festival of Honolulu also serves as a stage for the amateur reggae artists to present their performances. Reggae as a genre has found its brilliance on Hawaiian ukulele and this largest festival of Mayjah Rayjah celebrates the same in the form of a dazzling party. If you happen to be in Honolulu for the month of August, make sure to plan your itinerary for this largest reggae festival of Hawaii.
When: July

13. Pearl Harbour Remembrance

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The seventh day of December holds a significant space in the American history. A day that lives in infamy, December 7th marks the anniversary of the Pearl Harbour bombing by the Japanese in Hawaii and has been memorialised as the Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day. One among the most visited attractions in Hawaii, the sunken Pearl Harbour mourns and remembers the tragic day that brought a sea of losses with it. The festival in Honolulu stands as a celebration of survival and strength that it took to overcome. The place is filled with tourists on all other days but the Remembrance Day celebration should be one of the must have experiences for those visiting Honolulu in December.
Dates: December 7th

14. Annual Waikiki Hoolaulea

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A beach front street party at the Kalakaua avenue is part of the Aloha Festival which celebrates the dynamic culture of Hawaii. Embellished with numerous stages which hosts talented performers from dynamic fields of entertainment including hula halau and Hawaiian classical music, the festival in Honolulu should be in the bucket list for all those who seek to explore and understand the cultural intricacies. You can enjoy beautiful nights by the Pacific with multiple stalls exhibiting cultural artifacts, crafts, Hawaiian flavours and traditional cuisines. So, make sure to check the dates for this famous and most visited festival of Honolulu when you visit the land of Aloha.
When: September
So, for the next time that you plan a trip to any place, consider including the need to understand its cultural structuring by attending cultural events or by experiencing its cultural roots. And if the next place happens to be in Honolulu or in any Hawaiian city, explore the small aspects of life in the form of festivals. Honolulu hosts more happening events than any other place in Hawaiian chain of Islands. So, go ahead and experience any of these or all of the mentioned festivals of Honolulu. This list will bring you closer to doing so but don’t hesitate to explore and suggest.

This post was published by Aditi Shree

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