The holiday season in Hawaii is a magical time to visit the island. The poinsettia are blooming, the humpback whales are visiting and our warm sunny weather keeps those dreary winter-time blues far far away. Make the most of your stay with these festive ways to celebrate Hawaii for the holidays.
Just steps from the Holualoa Inn bed and breakfast, the Holualoa Village Music & Light Festival invites visitors to usher in the holidays, Hawaiian style. Live music, food, shopping, art openings, visits with Santa, and the lighting of the town Christmas tree. Takes place Saturday, December 2 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.
Waimea Twilight Christmas Parade Saturday, December 2 at 5:30 pm. It features more than 60 lighted entries including many festively “dressed” trucks and other big rigs. The theme for the 2023 parade is “E Lauhoe Mai Na Wa’a: Everybody Paddle the Canoe Together.” Afterward, Canada France Hawai’i Telescope will again host its annual Star Party at its Waimea headquarters with star gazing/viewing (as weather permits) outside and inside, make-and-take crafts, and goodies including hot chocolate.
Kick the holiday season off with the Kailua Kona Community Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 9 at 5 pm. Join the community down on Ali’i Drive for this year’s theme, “Tutu’s Kalikimaka through the Eyes of our Keiki.” Visit their website for a full route map.
Kalikimaka Lighted Boat Parade is one of Kona’s newer traditions. Decorated and lighted boats travel a short little loop along the Kona pier and down the coast. Great viewing spots for this can be found at the Kailua Pier, on the Body Glove boat, or in the village’s many restaurants. (Try Papa Kona, Foster’s Kitchen, Kona Inn, or with a cocktail at the Cheeky Tiki). This year’s parade is set for December 10, starting at 6:15 pm.
Do you need to finish up some Christmas shopping? Head to Historic Downtown Kailua Kona for the Kokua Kailua Village Stroll along Ali’i Drive, on December 10 from 1 to 6 pm. Includes nearly 100 vendor booths showcasing the work of local artisans and crafters, musicians, and merchants.
For the east side of the island, Na Makua Invitational Christmas Gift Fair in Hilo welcomes holiday shoppers. Takes place Friday, December 1 from 2 to 7 pm and Saturday, December 3 from 10 am to 4 pm at Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium. The free event showcases local artists, crafts, and gifts, and features live entertainment, food, and door prizes.
Hawaii for the Holidays Performances
The 2023 Hawai’i Island Steel Guitar Festival, takes place at the Mauna Lani from Thursday through Sunday, December 14 to 17, 2023. The festival is free to the public and the full schedule can be found on their website. Featured performers will include Alan Akaka, Pomai Brown, Ethan Goore, Bobby Ingano, Kapono Lopes, Mālie Lyman, Dwight Tokumoto, and Geronimo “Geri” Valdriz from Maui. Pomai Brown, Dwight Tokumoto, and Ethan Goore are from Hawai’i Island. Also performing will be NextGen steel guitarists Hi’ipoi Lindsey, Enosa Lyman, Tai Misailidis, Isabella Bertelmann, and Makamae Lyu-Napoleon.
Three-time Grammy winner & four-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner Kalani Pe’a celebrates the release of his latest holiday album “Purple Hawaiian Christmas,” at the Kahilu Theater in Waimea on December 15 from 7 to 9 pm. Featuring special guests Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award Winners Lorna Lim, and Wailau Ryder, and featured hula performances throughout the show. Kalani Pe’a is a singer, songwriter, and producer of Hawaiian contemporary and soul music. He is praised for his Hawaiian language fluency, songwriting, and commitment to his Hawaiian roots.
The West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy will perform the Nutcracker at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea on December 23, with shows at 2 and 6 pm. This festive, family-friendly production includes more than 55 local dancers and professional guest artists with new and original choreography.
Hawaii for the Holidays Activities
Every winter, usually around mid-December, droves of humpback whales migrate to Hawaii for the holidays. They visit the islands to mate and give birth in Hawaii’s warm nursery waters. They wow visitors and residents alike with their powerful and graceful displays of acrobatics. Breaches are often visible from shore, but to get a closer look at these incredible animals, join a whale-watching boat tour. The Kohala Coast provides some of the best whale-watching on the Big Island. Look for operators leaving from Kawaihae Harbor, though there are also plenty of operators in Kona.
Being in Hawaii for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to give up mainland traditions. If you just can’t handle a Christmas season without snow, visitors can make a trip up to the summit of Mauna Kea. Translating to “the white mountain” it is often capped with snow during the holiday season. Have a snowball fight on the tallest mountain in the Pacific or do some stargazing with Hawaii Forest and Trail’s Summit and Stars tour.
Open on Christmas Day
Guests joining us in Hawaii for the holidays and staying at our bed and breakfast are treated to our chef’s Christmas breakfast at the Inn. Includes fresh island fruit, a hearty entree, and holiday baked goods. Afterward, complimentary seasonal sweet treats will be available in the afternoon. Even on Christmas Day, Inn guests can order our lunch for two at the inn or arrange a cozy heat and serve dinner for two.
For those venturing out, Christmas Brunch is available at the Fairmont Orchid from 11 am to 2 pm, with live music and chef-inspired stations. Offerings include local and traditional items, including carving stations, sushi, chilled seafood, holiday desserts, and more. Price is $150 and up for adults, $50 and up for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 5. To reserve, call (808) 887-7320 or via email FairmontORCconcierge@bluehawaiian.com.
For dinner, the Kona Beach Resort is offering a Christmas Day Dinner Buffet from 5 to 8 pm. Includes starters, cold station, hot station, and dessert featuring both traditional and island-style dishes. The cost is $85 and up per person. To reserve, call (808) 329-2911.
Kona Beth Shalom invites visitors to join their Community Chanukah Celebration. December 10 from 5 to 7 pm in the Hawaiian Queen Coffee Garden. This family-friendly event features music, dancing, dreidels, lighting the menorahs, and a potluck featuring homemade potato latkes.
Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s first Christian church, invites visitors to join for their Christmas Eve service, on December 24 at 7 pm, with Christmas carols starting at 6 pm in the church courtyard under the historic spire. Featuring hula stories, songs, instrumental solos, and candle lighting.
With so much to do, it’s no wonder people love Hawaii for the holidays. However you celebrate the season, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays, and a Mele Kalikimaka.