Unless you’re headed to the summit of Mauna Kea, Christmas in Hawaii won’t be a white one. Santa sheds the red suit and wooly wear here in favor of flip-flops and a loud Christmas colored Hawaiian shirt. While there may be a lack of wintry cold in a Hawaiian Christmas, there is no lack of holiday spirit and fun. Here’s our picks for kid-friendly Christmas events in Hawaii that has everyone in the Aloha State exclaiming, “Mele Kalikimaka”! That’s Merry Christmas in Hawaiian, folks!
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The Big Island
There will be no shortage of music and lights for celebrating Christmas on the Big Island of Hawaii. The 33rd Annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade rolls into the area. With approximately 75 entries and 7 announcer locations, this year’s theme, “The Magic of Christmas- Kona Style” is sure to be a colorful spectacle as it travels along the town’s main drag of Ali’l Drive.
Do you need to finish up some Christmas shopping? Head to Kailua Village for a holiday stroll through the area and get special pricing at participating restaurants and retailers. Then unfold a beach chair or mat for a free holiday concert under the monkey pod tree at Emma’s Square.
One of Kona’s newer traditions takes to the water that same evening with the 4th Annual Kalikimaka Boat Parade. Great viewing spots for Kona’s holiday fleet can be found at the Kailua Pier or any of the village’s many restaurants.
Just because you’re traveling during Christmas time does not mean your family has to miss out on classic traditions like the Nutcracker or Christmas Eve services. The West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy accompanied by the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra presents a visually stunning family-friendly holiday festive production with more than 70 local dancers, and guest dancers from Bolshoi Ballet, Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Matsuyama Ballet and Carolina Ballet. Christmas Eve services at Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s first Christian church, feature the annual “Silent Night” hula during the candlelight portion of the service.
On the island of Oahu, the Christmas events include an array of colorful parades like the 21st Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade at the Hawaii Kai Town Center. The biggest celebration though is Honolulu City Lights, the month-long festivities kick off with the lighting of the 50-foot Norfolk Pine Christmas tree on the front lawn of Honolulu Hale triggers the “corridor of lights” down King and Punchbowl streets. The event also includes an Electric Light Parade, live entertainment and festive displays. Santa arrives mid-month at the Outrigger Waikiki via canoe. Keiki from Halau ‘O Pua Kahale greet him on the beach with the gift of hula.
Holiday Hint: In this part of the world, Santa hopes to find Malasadas next to the milk you leave out for him, not cookies. A Portugese doughnut without a hole, a malasada is golden brown outside, light and fluffy inside. They are filled with gooey goodness of custard, chocolate, or coconut and dusted with sugar. They are in fact so amazing, that there is a designated Malasada Day to celebrate them. Stop by Leonard’s Bakery to get introduced to his local favorite.
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Celebrations on Maui kick off with the Banyan Tree Lighting in Lahaina Town. The massive tree and its tangle of branches is illuminated with thousands of lights. Santa also arrives on a Hawaiian voyaging canoe at Maui’s Grand Wailea. The resort also kicks off “Tis the Season of Aloha,” with a month of activities and programs, many of them benefiting local charities. Guests might find carolers strolling the lobby singing traditional and Hawaiian holiday songs. Special ukulele and hula performances are also part of the holiday season. Santa returns to the resort on Christmas Eve, and hundreds of children are expected to turn out to see him sail in on a voyaging canoe.
At the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, families can celebrate Christmas Eve “Hawaiian style” at the resort’s oceanfront Maui Nui Lu’au. The entire family will delight in remarkable stories, history, and culture of the Valley Isle and Kaanapali luaus.
If you find yourself on Hawaii’s Garden Isle for Christmas, do not miss the Festival of Lights display inside the historic county building. For more than two decades, Josie Chansky known to many locals as “Aunt Josie,” fills the place from floor to ceiling with unique holiday themed decorations. How unique, you ask? Have you ever seen a tree made of 7500 green toothpicks or wreaths made of plastic egg cartons? Referring to the old adage, many of the amazing displays here became another man’s treasure after being another man’s trash.
The Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade is great way to kick off an island holiday break. Held on December 16th, the parade begins at Waimea Canyon Park and heads down Kaumualii Highway to Ala Wai Road, turning inland then back west to end in the center of town. After-parade festivities include live music and baked goods.
Many think of Lana’i as the Hawaii of yesterday: unspoiled, unhurried, and unequaled. And that’s what visitors will find whether staying at the tranquil and lovely Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i at Manele Bay or at the upcountry escape of Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i, The Lodge at Koele. Daily sports, spa, cultural activities, and fantastic evening events, will make holiday on Lāna’i one to remember. With kite flying, Kids Yoga, Junior Golf, Keiki Spa Party, and hula, the kids will never be bored. Other options this time of year include cookie decorating and ornament making. If you’re visiting the island from a snowbound region, imagine making your friends and relatives jealous when you let them know that your Christmas included a Dive in Movie! (That’s a movie you watch while in the pool!)
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