The Neil S. Blaisdell Center (777 Ward Ave., 808/768-5400, box office 808/768-5252) spans a city block and includes the multipurpose circular arena for concerts, shows, and sporting events; the concert hall; and the exhibition hall for expos, fairs, and events.On the first Friday of every month, people gather in the streets of Chinatown and in the galleries, museums, and art studios to celebrate the vibrant art scene.The Honolulu Museum of Art (900 S. Beretania St., 808/532-8700, 10am-4:30pm Tues.-Sat., 1pm- 3pm Sun.) hosts ART after DARK, a monthly art party exploring different themes on rotating exhibit in the museum, like the art of tattoo or celebrating Hina matsuri (Girls’ Day in Japan) through elaborate dolls, 6pm-9pm on the last Friday of the month, January through October. Admission is $10.
With myriad bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and art galleries, it’s no wonder Chinatown is also the hub of outdoor events. Chinatown hosts annual Chinese New Year, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and Cinco De Mayo Festivals, as well as the famous First Friday. On the first Friday of every month, people gather in the streets of Chinatown and in the galleries, museums, and art studios to celebrate the vibrant art scene. The festive event includes live music and street entertainment, and bars and restaurants cater to the crowds. Festivities begin around 6pm. Visit ARTS at Marks Garage online, where you’ll find a link to a Chinatown gallery map.
Festivals in Honolulu: January-March
The Honolulu Festival (808/926-2424) is a cultural event focusing on Pacific Rim cultures. The three-day festival has educational programs, activities, and performances, like cultural dances and traditional art demonstrations. The finale is a parade down Kalakaua Avenue and a spectacular fireworks display over Waikiki.
The Hawaii Collectors Expo (777 Ward Ave., 808/768-5400, box office 808/768-5252) in late February features all kinds of art, antiques, and collectibles. With its Hawaiiana, colored glass, handmade aloha shirts, Star Wars figurines, this three-day expo at the Neil S. Blaisell Exhibition Hall is a favorite of local residents. There is a small entrance fee.
Festivals in Honolulu: April-June
Memorial Day weekend is celebrated in Honolulu with the annual Lantern Floating Hawaii festival on Magic Island. On the holiday itself, people from all corners of world write remembrances and prayers on specially prepared floating lanterns to be placed in the Ala Wai Canal at dusk. The sight of over 3,000 floating lanterns is a powerful and moving experience.
On King Kamehameha Day, June 11, the King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade is not to be missed. Beginning at ‘Iolani Palace with a lei draping ceremony at the King Kamehameha statue, the parade marches slowly to Kapi‘olani Park, with a beautiful display or culture, color, and flowers.
The Islandwide Spring Crafts & Foods Expo (777 Ward Ave., 808/768-5400, box office 808/768-5252 is the state’s largest craft fair. Over 200 artisans and food vendors come together at the Blaisdell to share their handmade goods and cuisine. There is also a larger Christmas show. Entrance fees apply.
Festivals in Honolulu: July-September
The biennial Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction (777 Ward Ave., 808/768-5400, box office 808/768-5252) takes place at the Blaisdell every other July on odd years. The auction draws vintage surf collectors from all over the world, and the items on auction, everything from old surf movie posters to vintage surfboards, are on display for all to see.
Also in July, the Prince Lot Hula Festival (1352 Pineapple Pl., 808/839-5334) at Moanalua Gardens is the largest noncompetitive hula event in Hawai‘i. The daylong display is very popular and honors Prince Lot Kapuaiwa, who helped to revive hula by carrying on the tradition through parties at his home, which is located at the gardens.
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is a four-day epicurean delight featuring the specialties of over 50 internationally renowned master chefs and wine and spirit producers. The festival takes place across Honolulu and Ko‘olina in September. Check the website for details.
100 Miles on Two Wheels
The Honolulu Century Ride (late Sept.) is the largest cycling event on O‘ahu. It’s not so much a race, but rather an untimed challenging ride to pedal 100 miles from Kapi‘olani Park, around Koko Crater, up to Swanzy Beach in Ka‘a‘awa, then back to Kapi‘olani Park. Road closures go into effect for the safety of the thousands of local, national, and international riders who show up to participate.
Festivals in Honolulu: October-December
Every year in early December, over 20,000 runners from around the world flock to Honolulu to participate and compete in the Honolulu Marathon (3435 Waialae Ave., Ste. 200, 808/734-7200). Ala Moana Boulevard between Ala Moana Beach Park and Ala Moana Center is transformed into the starting line, where runners begin their 26.2-mile trek to Hawai‘i Kai and back to finish in Waikiki.
Downtown’s Historic District, at Honolulu Hale, hosts Honolulu City Lights in December. The Christmas celebration of lights is punctuated by huge statues decorating the exterior of the building, most notably, Shaka Santa.
Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon O‘ahu.