Hawaii Stories


Christmas in Hawaii

It is a special time in Hawaii and the celebration is magical and unique


Above: “Mele Kalikimaka” means “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. Photo: Matt Kwock

Imagine that you’ve decided to spend Christmas in Hawaii. With plane tickets in hand, you’re ready to escape the cold, snowy winter for sunny, warm, white sandy beaches.

Upon landing in Hawaii, the holiday hustle and bustle become a distant memory. Hawaii doesn’t do Daylight Savings Time, so you avoid driving on icy roads in the dark during rush hour. Instead, you wonder at the glorious technicolor sunrises and sunsets.

Christmas in Hawaii is a special time and the celebration is magical and unique.


Above: The annual Honolulu City Lights Electric Light Parade opens the festivities in downtown Honolulu. Photo: Ron Slauson

Honolulu City Lights is not to be missed. The buildings of downtown Honolulu are decorated with festive lights and holiday décor. It opens with a block party that includes food, live entertainment, and fun family rides. The Electric Light Parade runs nearly two miles, which is about a 30-minute walk, and ends at Honolulu Hale for the lighting of Oahu’s holiday tree. Visit Santa’s Gingerbread House and Enchanted Forest in the courtyard, then check out the wreath display in Lane Gallery.

Christmas Trolley

Above: The Christmas trolley on the Honolulu City Lights Holiday Lights Tour cruises through downtown Honolulu. Photo Courtesy of Waikiki Trolley

Or, park your car and join holiday revelers on Waikiki Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tour. The trolley, which is decorated with colorful lights, cruises through historic downtown Honolulu and delivers you to Honolulu Hale where you can enjoy more holiday festivities.

Santa Outrigger Waikiki

Above: Sun dances on the ocean when Santa arrives for Christmas in Hawaii. Photo Courtesy of Outrigger Enterprises Group

The song Kana Kaloka (Santa Claus) by Mary Pukui starts with, “Santa Claus comes from the land of cold and snow, flies here to Hawaii …” But urban legend says he shows up in a canoe, and sometimes a surfboard. This holiday season, Santa’s arrival at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort is celebrated with hula dancing and breakfast.

Rainbow Tree

Above: The Rainbow Tree at the Kauai Festival of Lights Photo: Ron Kosen

Kauai’s Festival of Lights is a holiday wonderland at Lihue’s Historic County Building. Outside, colorful lights twine around towering coconut trees and the building’s Greek Revival columns. Inside, decorations include the Lantern Tree, Mermaid Kingdom, an upcycled Over the Rainbow Tree, the Bling It On peacock tree, Santa’s Cane Train Village, and the Spam Can Tree.

Maui’s famous banyan tree in Lahaina is lit with more than 6,500 colored Christmas lights, which glow throughout the holiday season. The massive tree was brought from India and planted in 1873. The lighting ceremony includes local music and a holiday arts and crafts fair. Plus, you can have your picture taken with Santa between 2 and 4 p.m.

Nutcracker Ballet

Above: The West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy performs Big Island’s Nutcracker Ballet. Photo: Courtesy of West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy

The West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy perform Big Island’s Nutcracker Ballet. The full orchestra includes members of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra. More than 70 local ballerinas dance with guests Fredrick Davis, from PBS’s From the Street to the Stage; Shaina Liebson of Alberta Ballet; Miho Tsutsumi of Matsuyama Ballet Company; Hiroko Masuya of Yanomoko Ballet Company, and Timour Bourtasenkov of Carolina Ballet.

At over13,000 feet above sea level, Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for “white mountain”) and Mauna Loa, are the only spots in the state that get snow. The north side of Hawaii Island sees temperatures as low as 40 degrees, but weather across the state is a balmy 86 degrees.

And that’s Christmas in Hawaii.

Holiday Events in Hawaii

Honolulu City of Lights, free
530 S. King St.
8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Open Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, including Christmas and New Year’s

Trolley Ride on the Holiday Lights Tour
See website for prices and schedule

Santa Arrives by Canoe
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Sat., Dec. 8, on the beach at 9 a.m.

Breakfast with Santa
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
The Reef Bar & Market Grill
Sat., Dec. 15 from 8 to 10 a.m.
Kauai Festival of Lights, free
4396 Rice St.
Fri., Sat., and Sun. from 6 to 8 p.m., including Christmas Eve and Dec. 29

Big Island
Nutcracker Ballet, $49 / $39 / $29
67-1186 Lindsey Rd.
Fri., Dec. 21, 6 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 22, 2 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 23, 2 p.m.

Maui Chamber Orchestra Christmas Concert
Historic Iao Theater
68 N. Market St.
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16, 3 p.m.

20th Annual Banyan Tree Lighting, free
Lahaina Banyan Court
648 Wharf St., Lahaina
Sat. Dec. 1, 9 a.m. To 9 p.m.


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