Spending the holidays in Hawaii is a one-of-a-kind experience! I’ve spent many holiday seasons in Hawaii. I love the island-style twist for Christmas in the tropics.
Just like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day is one of the national holidays and legal holidays that the state of Hawaii observes. Like most states, Hawaii knows how to bring in the festive spirit sans the cold and snow. But this doesn’t mean it’s less fun to be there during the holidays!
Here are my top picks for the most popular Hawaiian islands and the different Christmas activities you and your family can enjoy!
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HOLIDAYS IN HAWAII: OAHU
HONOLULU CITY LIGHTS
The holidays on Oahu kick off December 2 with the opening night of Honolulu City Lights. There’s a huge parade, block party, tree lighting ceremony, food booths, children’s rides, a holiday concert and Santa.
However, the festivities don’t stop there.
Be sure to experience the City Department Tree Exhibition at the Honolulu Hale from December 3 – 29 and the Annual Wreath Exhibit around the same period.
You can also expect a lot of holiday food from various local vendors.
If you can’t visit during one of their special event days, hop on board an open-air trolley for a breezy and unobstructed tour of the festive light display.
CHRISTMAS AT THE HUKILAU MARKETPLACE
The Christmas at the Hukilau Marketplace holiday event is something to watch out for. Visit them between December 15-22 to enjoy a night filled with fun and festivity.
With train rides for kids, Santa Claus selfies and 12 tons of real SNOW, it’s a holiday event for your entire family!
Plus, there will be food trucks, a Christmas scavenger hunt, a live nativity presentation, Christmas carolling, Hawaiian music and lots of shops.
SANTA ARRIVES AT WAIKIKI
Bring the kids to Waikiki Beach to greet Santa as he arrives by canoe on Saturday, December 9.
Then, head over to the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort to take a free photo with Santa in the lobby.
I mean, how often will you see Santa on Waikiki Beach? And while you’re in Waikiki, stop by the Sheraton Princess Ka`iulani for their annual Gingerbread Village.
NEW YEAR’S EVE LUAU DINNER AT “ROCK-A- HULA”
Rock-a-Hula has a different celebration this year. Instead of Christmas, they have a special luau as you welcome New Year’s Day.
Dance to the music featuring local artists, and feast on the island’s best food as you wait for the countdown. Be sure to stay until the fireworks light up the sky because it’s surely a magical moment to witness with your family.
FUKUBUKURO 2023 AT ALA MOANA CENTER
Do you like scoring amazing deals on name-brand items?
Celebrate a Japanese New Year’s Day tradition by purchasing a happy grab bag filled with merchandise worth double the sales price. It’s a complete mystery, which is half the fun!
On New Year’s Day, head to Ala Moana Center for their annual Fukubukuro event. You can check out more details about the event here.
I participated a few years ago and got some incredible items from Neiman Marcus.
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HOLIDAYS IN HAWAII: MAUI
When Santa arrives in Hawaii on Christmas Eve, he trades in his sleigh for a canoe! Head to Wailea Beach at 9 am to see Santa arrive by Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe!
Then, meet Santa and take pictures on the Chapel Lawn.
You can take your own picture or enjoy professional pictures by Pacific Dream Photography available for a low cost. The event itself is complimentary and open to the public.
Want to see another Santa on Christmas Eve? You’re in luck! At Noon, head to Polo Beach and watch Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and a few of their elves arrive on Polo Beach by outrigger canoe to spread holiday cheer to South Maui!
Santa will be available for photos following his arrival at the Fairmont Kea Lani. He is there every Wednesday and Saturday until December 20 and Thursday, December 21, from 4 to 7 PM.
DASHING THROUGH THE SEA
It’s all merry and bright at the Maui Ocean Center for this year’s Dashing Through the Sea, featuring student-made holiday-themed decorations.
They levelled up on the photo opportunities here because they do not only have Santa Claus but also The Grinch! It’s going to be a fun photo if your kids can do both.
You can also witness the Seabury Hall Contemporary Music Ensemble and Maunalei Music Ensemble singing Christmas carols at the ʻAʻaliʻikūhonua Creative Arts Center.
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HOLIDAYS IN HAWAII: KAUAI
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
One of the most popular holiday events on Kauai is the Festival of Lights. It was started 20 years ago by Auntie Josie and features elaborate “trash to treasure” displays.
The grounds are lit up every night through the New Year. However, there’s so much more! On the weekends, head inside the Historic County Building to see Auntie Josie’s elaborate decorations and check out what Kauai’s artisans have created.
While you’re there, snap a selfie with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It runs every Friday from December 1 through December 22. And the best part: It’s FREE!
ANNUAL HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR
Celebrate the holidays Kauai Style at the Annual Holiday Fair by the Kauai County Farm Bureau starting on December 4 to 18.
This event features Kauai-made and Kauai-grown products. It’s a great opportunity to find coffee, honey, cheeses, jams, pies, spices, dressings and more!
There are also carefully crafted Kauai-made gifts like jewellery, ornaments, leis and home décor. This is a great spot to pick up holiday gifts to bring home to friends and family.
And while you’re there, enjoy delicious local foods and treats while you shop!
HOLIDAY HULA CELEBRATION 2018
If you’d like to see some traditional hula with a holiday twist, come to Kauai’s annual Holiday Hula Christmas Celebration.
It’s Saturday, December 10, 2023 from 3 pm-8 pm. It’s an evening of music and hula with more than 100 dancers and musicians.
The event features chants and songs that honor Hawaiian royalty, places, nature, and holiday tunes!
You’ll never see a corner in Kauai without the festive Christmas lights. In fact, there are two lights parades in the area that are enjoyable for the whole family.
Witness the unique Lights on Rice Christmas Lights Parade on December 1, 5:30 PM. Everybody lines up Rice Street to see all 60 float entries and 3,000 performers. The entire street is also decorated with Christmas lights, making it more magical!
If you missed that, there’s still the Waimea Lights Parade on December 23, with displays and floats that marries the tropical setting of Kauai and the holiday spirit. It starts at 6:15 PM and will end at Hofgaard Park for a Christmas concert.
NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS
This family-friendly Kauai Fireworks Event includes food trucks, food booths, kid activities, a movie showing at the beach park and fireworks.
Fireworks are set to begin at 8:15 pm. The holiday festivities run from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.
Head to Poipu Beach Park with your family and say “Hau`oli Makahiki Hou” to 2024 (Hawaiian for Happy New Year!).
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HOLIDAYS IN HAWAII: BIG ISLAND
14th ANNUAL JINGLE BELL BEACH RUN – KAILUA-KONA
Pack your festive workout gear! The Big Island’s largest and most anticipated 5k run/walk event is December 17. The Jingle Bell Beach Run starts at 7:30 am at the Coconut Grove Marketplace.
This holiday-themed fun run is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!
FAIRMONT ORCHID’S A VERY MERRY HOLIDAY HULA
Who says the hula can’t be jolly and merry? Fairmont Orchid has a special event called A Very Merry Holiday Hula on December 15 at 5:30 PM.
There will be traditional live Hawaiian music, and hālau hula (hula school) performances before they light up the resort’s tropical winter wonderland. Of course, it’s not Christmas without the hot cocoa, so they’ll be serving this during the even.
Guests can also walk through and enjoy their pastry team’s award-winning life-sized chocolate gingerbread hale (hut). Expect a unique (but still very merry!) Christmas celebration on the island!
19th ANNUAL WAIKOLOA VILLAGE CHRISTMAS PARADE AND KEIKI FEST
On December 9, experience the Waikoloa Village Christmas Parade featuring The Snow King or Queen and several other dignitaries, local businesses and cars.
The Parade begins at 10 AM at the Skate Park on Paniolo Road and will go down to the Waikoloa School intersection.
And after the parade, stay for the Keiki Fest. There will be free food and games for kids, and vendors for adults. Kids who attend this event may enter a drawing for a bicycle and other prizes.
CANDLELIGHT SERVICE AT THE STATE OF HAWAII’S OLDEST CHURCH – KAILUA-KONA
For those looking for a really special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, look no further than Mokuaikaua Church on Ali`i Dr. in Kailua-Kona.
This is Hawaii’s first Christian church and is almost 200 years old. You and your family can join the caroling at 7 pm and then celebrate Christ’s birth inside at 8 pm.
Spending the holidays in Hawaii is a great alternative to a White Christmas!
With warm weather, golden beaches and relaxing ocean waves, Hawaii is a great place to connect with family and friends.
And be sure to turn on the radio in your car to hear more Hawaiian-style Christmas songs than you ever knew existed!
For more holiday travel inspiration, visit Alamo Rent A Car’s Scenic Route – it’s full of travel stories, videos, guides and more! Alamo’s website is designed to inspire travellers to make the most of their vacations.