The Most Festive Things to Do in Hawaii During Christmas

November 15, 2021

White sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and swaying palm trees might not conjure thoughts of ‘Christmas,’ but who says you have to spend the holidays shivering? 

Take a step towards the extraordinary when you choose to spend your Christmas vacation in Hawaii. 

Hawaii manages to strike the perfect balance of adventure and tranquility. Travelers of every background will be intoxicated by this island’s mix of breathtaking beaches, stunning ocean views, exhilarating excursions, and rich culture.

The Aloha state loves to celebrate, and the holidays are no exception! So whether you choose to stay on the Big Island, Oahu, or Maui, you are sure to find a multitude of amazing parades, festive luaus, and light displays that will have you saying ‘hauʻoli lā hoʻomaha’ in no time. 

Hotels

A holiday spent in the sunshine should be full of ocean views, sand beneath your feet, and too many mai tais! 

Find the island lodging of your fantasies when you choose to book any of our premium Hawaii Hotels & Resorts. With offerings on every island and accommodations ranging from sleek and minimalistic to luxurious and all-inclusive, you are sure to find your ideal match. 

Mr and Mrs Claus in a sleigh in the Kailua Kona Christmas Parade in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Parades In Kona via Facebook

Big Island

Kailua Kona Christmas Parade in Big Island of Hawaii

When: December 11th, 2021

Gather the whole family for this annual event that puts a distinct island stamp on the traditional Christmas Parade. The Kailua Kona Christmas Parade is a spirited fete in Kailua-Kona that features cheery local marching bands, seasonally decorated floats, children performers, and even decorated dogs! Each year a special seasonal theme is selected, so stay tuned for updates.

Related Post: Current Events and Festivals in Hawaii

Holualoa Village Association’s Annual Music & Light Festival

When: December TBD

Support the local Holualoa Village by witnessing the ceremonious magic of the town’s Christmas Tree lighting. Festivities kick off at 5:30 pm, making this an ideal soiree for little ones with early bedtimes. Then, you can say ‘aloha’ to the joy of the season by snacking on complimentary treats from gallery owners, listening to live Hawaiin music, and browsing through the numerous crafts and food stands. The Annual Music & Light Festival is the ultimate laidback way to start your holidays, complete your shopping, and even snap a photo with Santa!

People hiking the Mauna Kea Visitors Center Volcano Hike in Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Mouna Kea Visitor Station via Facebook

Mauna Kea Visitor Center Volcano Hike

Pumped up for a wintery summit of Mauna Kea? Prepare those parkas as you embrace this otherworldly outdoor experience:

Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour from Kona

The mysteries of galaxies far away and majestic volcanoes beckon on the Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour.

Related Post: 24 Incredible Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Facts Every Visitor Should Know

This 6-hour exploration has the distinction of being the only Big Island Star tour that features both nighttime astronomical observation and safe daytime solar viewing. Incredible tour highlights include:

  • Safely gazing upon sunspots, flares, and other vibrant solar activity through a state of the art solar telescope
  • Traveling between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the mightiest and most massive volcanoes on Earth
  • Observing real-life lava flows and local flora & fauna
  • Nighttime stargazing at a premier spot on Mauna Kea, where you will hopefully catch a glimpse of galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and more
  • A delicious picnic-style dinner
  • Complimentary hot chocolate or Kona coffee to warm your bones, and a tasty dessert to cap off the meal from a local artisan baker.

Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure

Desolate and haunting lava flows, a brilliant night sky, and your own private picnic at Humuula. The Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure is the perfect expedition to unleash your inner explorer! Intrepid guests 16 and older will be glad they bundled up for the snowy season as they soak up stunning views of Haleakala on Maui, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. 

Unforgettable features of this 7-8 hour tour are:

  • A majestic drive to the summit of Mauna Kea - the world’s tallest mountain and considered by many Hawaiians to be the island’s most sacred place
  • Private hot picnic dinner served family-style at Humuula
  • A local expert guide who provides cultural context and history to the area’s geology
  • One of a kind stargazing at 9000 ft elevation
  • Complimentary hot cocoa and macadamia nut cookies 
Tip of a whales tail peaking out of deep blue water with an island and clouds in the back ground in Lahaina, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Pacific Whale Foundation via Facebook

Whale Watch Cruise

December is the kick-off for the whale-watching season, so put down that eggnog and climb aboard the Body Glove Cruise’s 65 ft catamaran for a chance to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. 

Over 8,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii to breed, calf, and nurse their young every December through April. The 2.5-hour Whale Watch Cruise provides an exciting opportunity to view these whales in their natural habitat, hear their sweet symphonies with underwater hydrophones, and of course, snap some social media-worthy photos!

Related Post: Best Places for Whale Watching in the U.S.

As part of your whale watching tour, you will receive:

  • A light snack, soda, or juice
  • Access to premium cash bar aboard the catamaran
  • Invaluable insight and knowledge from seasoned naturalists
  • A guarantee to see whales, or you ride again free!
Aerial view of Fairmont Orchid with the beach and palm trees on The Big Island, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii via Facebook

Hawaii Loa Kohala Luau at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel

When: TBD

Want to welcome in Christmas day the Hawaii way? The Hawaii Loa Kohala Luau will be serving up a mouth-watering special luau dinner for Christmas 2021. Feast your eyes and your taste buds on:

  • An all you can eat buffet and open bar
  • Traditional Lei greeting and commemorative photo
  • Interactive Hawaiian games and cultural displays
  • Professional hula dancing and Polynesian entertainment

Oahu

Honolulu City Lights

When: December 4th-January 1st, 2021

Sparkling lights, tinsel everywhere, and a 50 ft tall Christmas Tree make the Honolulu City Lights celebration in Hawaii is a can’t miss Oahu Christmas spectacle. For over 35 years, this month-long event has brought holiday joy and amusement to families island-wide.

Related Post: 10 Things to Do in Honolulu Every Visitor Should Know About

The action begins with the official tree lighting ceremony, followed by an electric parade of lights. Tiny tykes (or keiki’s in Hawaiian) will be thrilled to indulge in all the tasty eats, games, and rides.

Pro Tip: Honolulu City Lights is a nonprofit organization, and you can support them by purchasing any of their colorful Christmas swag, such as themed ornaments or T-shirts, online. 

Aerial View of the Pool and Ocean at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort - Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Waikiki Resort Hotel via Facebook

Santa Arrives by Canoe, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

When: December, TBD

Ahoy mates! Santa is trading in his sleigh to cruise around in an outrigger canoe at this annual Oahu event. Little ones will cheer with glee as the holly, jolly man himself makes quite an entrance (sans reindeer) as he arrives via Outrigger canoe. Then, continue the merriment inside the Waikiki Beach Resort lobby, where Santa will be posing for photo ops. 

Winter Wishes – A Holiday Festival

When: December 1-24th, 2021 TBD

Transport yourself to a wintery wonderland when you step foot inside the Hawaii Convention center for the Winter Wishes Holiday Festival. Santa’s littlest helpers will have their hands full as they dash from each festive activity to the next. 

Related Post: The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: What to Bring and What to Skip

In addition to a spacious 82-foot long ice skating rink, festival-goers can choose to participate in:

  • Holiday craft workshops
  • Live music performances
  • Photos with Santa
  • Gingerbread house competition 
  • Special Christmas themed food and drink
  • Holiday shopping at a fully stocked artisanal marketplace

View looking down on Pearl Harbor during the day and there appears to be some oil in the water in Oahu Hawaii80th Pearl Harbor Anniversary Events

When: December 1-10th, 2021 

Every year on December 7th, we honor the valor, courage, and sacrifice of the brave men and women who served at Pearl Harbor. 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of this tragic event, and for this momentous commemoration, there will be numerous ceremonies, memorials, performances, and even parties. 

Related Post: Top Attractions in Hawaii

Highlights of the 80th Anniversary promise to include:

  • Ceremonies at the USS Oklahoma, Utah, and Nevada
  • Live Jazz and Blues band performances
  • Outdoor movie nights on Waikiki Beach
  • Opening gala and block party
  • Parade & Reef laying ceremonies
  • And more!

Pro Tip: Want to brush up on your WWII history before the big day? We offer various educational and inspiring Pearl Harbor Memorial Tours to provide you with fascinating background and context on this pivotal American period.

Rock-A-Hula

When: Select dates in December

Dreaming of a ‘Blue Christmas’ in Hawaii with the king of rock himself? Then, get your leis and your dancing shoes ready, as you won’t be able to resist shimmying and shaking in your seat at the Rock-A-Hula Show this holiday season. 

Related Post: Hawaii for First Time Visitors: 8 Tips to Know Before You Go

This extraordinary auditory experience will take you on a magical journey throughout rock and roll history and includes tribute performances to honor musical legends such as Elvis, Elton John, Madonna, Micheal Jackson, and Lady Gaga. 

Your 75-minute live concert seamlessly incorporates traditional Hawaiian music, hula, and fire knife dancers with sumptuous four-course surf and turf feast.*

Pro Tip: Looking to spend Christmas Day chowing down with Elvis and the gang, you can book an extra special Magical Christmas Rock-A-Hula dinner here.

*Dinner service and cocktails offered vary depending on the ticket type purchased. 

Hula dancer performing at Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, Hawaii, USAParadise Cove Luau

When: Select Dates in December

Craving an authentic Hawaiin luau experience? Paradise Cove’s Luau is one of Hawaii’s most respected luau shows, complete with breathtaking ocean views. 

Related Post: 5 of the Best Luaus in Hawaii

This island favorite brings the heart and the heritage of Polynesian culture front and center. A dazzling show that is sure to leave you filled with seasonal cheer, this is one Luau you won’t want to miss. Your ticket to Paradise features:

  • Complimentary lei & mai tai cocktail
  • Demonstrations of traditional Hawaiin cooking practices featuring an underground oven
  • A mouth-watering feast featuring native Hawaiian foods & continental dishes
  • Hula performances and Samoan fire dancers
  • Testing your mettle with spear throwing and observing the net fishing techniques of old Hawaii

Maui

Christmas 5K Run & Santa's 1/2 Mile Keiki Dash

When: December 19th, 2021 7:30 AM-10:00 AM

Ready to sweat it out for Santa? There’s nothing like keeping fit for a good cause, so pull on those sneakers and prime yourself for the merriest ‘fun run’ ever! 

Tis the season for giving back, and The Christmas 5k Run & Santa’s ½ mile Keiki Dash will be collecting donations for the Maui Food Bank. 

Runners young and old can choose between completing the following races:

  • Santa’s Half Mile Keiki Dash - for kids 8 years old and under
  • 5.5 K run- a fun 5k+ that will not be timed but will have a clock setup
  • 1 Mile Walk- a leisurely 1-mile walk from the parking lots and along the bike path and back
Banyan Tree lighting for Christmas in Lahaina, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Hakuna Matata Maui via Facebook

Banyan Tree Lighting Ceremony, Lahaina

When: December 2021 TBD

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree! Is there anything more enchanting than an illuminating tree lighting ceremony? Join fellow holiday lovers of Maui for the annual Banyan Tree Lighting Ceremony

Witness the ethereal glow of thousands of Christmas lights decorating the largest Banyan tree in Hawaii (1.8 acres in size). After the inaugural lighting of the tree, stick around for classic carols sung in Hawaiian, decorating Christmas cookies, and taking photos with the 6ft tall tropical Snowman.

Aloha Christmas Parade, Lahaina

When: December TBD

Three cheers for some outdoor seasonal fun! Pack up some snacks, stock up on hot cocoa and snag a front-row seat to the famed Aloha Christmas Parade. This yearly Lahaina event is sure to put a smile on even the Grinchiest of faces with its eye-catching floats, sparkling lights, and live entertainment.

Related Post: Maui After Dark: All the Best Things to Do in Maui at Night

The Feast at Mokapu Luau, Wailea

Lusting for an authentic ‘ohana’ or family-style meal to ring in the holiday season with your nearest and dearest? The Feast at Mokapu Luau is the ultimate expression of Hawaii’s culinary expertise melded with authentic storytelling. 

Sit back, and relax in luxury as you witness a uniquely curated cultural and gastronomical event at the opulent Wailea Resort. 

Your fully immersive dinner experience includes:

  • Unlimited bespoke cocktails
  • A three-course feast including such local delicacies as Ahi poke, Kalua pig, and whole roasted fish
  • Interactive storytelling featuring the history of their Polynesian ancestors arriving in Maui
  • Photo opportunities with traditional dancers and entertainers
  • Fire Knife artist displays skill 

A sun-filled paradise of volcanoes, crashing waves, and blooming poinsettias, Hawaii serves up the perfect blend of serenity and exhilaration. 

Related Post: Which is the Best Hawaiian Island for Kids?

For those yearning to escape the blizzard-filled holidays of their past, Hawaii is an ideal winter getaway. From sipping mai tais, to whale watching, to scarfing down Kalua pig at your very first Luau, there are countless ways to find the holiday spirit in this tropical oasis. 

Embrace the celebratory nature of the Aloha State, and prepare yourself for the white (sand) Christmas of your dreams. 

The generous, welcoming spirit of the island will have you planning your return to Hawaii faster than you can say ‘mahalo.’

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