Oahu’s Biggest Events in 2018: An Infographic
More than its spectacular beaches, breathtaking views, hospitable residents, and a potpourri of activities for every kind of visitor, Oahu boasts of some of the world’s most vibrant, enjoyable celebrations and events flocked by thousands and thousands of tourists every year. They all celebrate Polynesian archipelago’s rich culture and history — a perfect way to truly immerse in the Hawaiian experience.
With so many festivals and events happening throughout the year, you wouldn’t want to miss any of them! Before boarding your plane to join the festivities, make sure you brush up on which events you’re going to and what to expect.
Here are the Oahu biggest events that you wouldn’t want to miss this year!
33rd Annual Duke Kahanamoku Beach Challenge
- When: April 15, 2018
- Where: Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
- The History:
- Early Hawaiians celebrated a makahiki season each year to honor Lono, the god of peace, prosperity, and fertility. The season usually lasted from October to February, during which time, tributes, battles, and sporting events were held as a form of celebration.
- The Duke Kahanamoku Challenge, named after “Father of Surfing” and “King of All Swimmers” Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, brings this season to life in the form of fun, education, and remembrance of Hawaii’s ancient roots and traditions.
- The event is also a fundraiser to help the Waikiki Community Center in helping kupuna, Keiki, visitors, and people in need throughout the Waikiki community.
- What to Expect: Visitors and residents are in for a thrilling day of outrigger canoe, stand-up paddle board, and kayak racing. There’s also a variety of top-notch classic and contemporary entertainment, Hawaiian makahiki games, and food booths — for free!
2018 Waikiki SPAM JAM Festival
- When: April 28, 2018, 4:00pm-10:00PM
- Where: Kalakaua Avenue
- The History: The Waikiki Spam Jam Festival is a street festival that celebrates Hawaii’s love for Spam, a canned meat from Hormel Foods. It is one of the top annual food festivals in Hawaii due to its great food and entertainment in a family-friendly atmosphere.
- What to Expect: Food — and lots of it! Booths are set up by volunteers to help collect donations of Spam for the Hawaii Food Bank. There are no admission charges to enjoy the entertainment; just bring a can of Spam with you to help the cause. Several Honolulu restaurants will be serving Spam prepared in many ways, while two merchandise tents will be selling Spam-themed items. A variety of Hawaiian craft booths will also be set up on the street.
Lantern Floating Hawaii
- When: May 28, 2018 (Memorial Day)
- Where: Oahu South Shore
- The History: Celebrated on Memorial Day, Lantern Floating Ceremony aims to give all a personal moment to remember, reflect, and offer gratitude to those who have given their lives in service to their country. The whole ceremony Tis structured around the reverence and honoring of protocol and code of etiquette, similar to the discipline seen in the Hawaiian hula, in the presenting of lei and flowers, and other Hawaiian ceremonies.
- What to Expect: People hold public and private services in honor of the veterans throughout the day. Before sunset on Oahu, more than 40,000 participants gather at the Ala Moana Beach Park to send off floating lanterns, which are specially crafted with hand-inscribed prayers and personal messages on a special paper, into the water.
Pan Pacific Festival-Matsuri in Hawaii
- When: June 8-10, 2018
- Where: Kalakaua Avenue, Ala Moana Center, and Kuhio Beach
- The History: Pan Pacific Festival was first the Matsuri in Hawaii, the Japanese festival that was first celebrated in Hawaii in 1980. This is to promote the goodwill and fellowship between the Japanese and Hawaiian people. In 1996, Matsuri in Hawaii became known as the Pan Pacific Festival and broadened its capacity to include other cultures from Hawaii’s rich melting pot.
- What to Expect: This three-day event starts with Hawaiian festivities on Friday evening, including a block party where thousands enjoy entertainment and food. A hula festival is held at Ala Moana Center where hula groups from Japan perform with Hawaiian hula halau. The event culminates with a grand parade along Kalakaua Avenue.
King Kamehameha Celebration
- When: June 11, 2018
- Where: Downtown Honolulu
- The History: Kamehameha Day, which the celebration is a part of, was created to honor the memory of Kamehameha the Great (c. 1758-1819) who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 to become Hawaii’s first King. It pays tribute to his acts to protect, preserve, and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.
- What to Expect: The celebration features traditional Hawaiian dance, music, chant, practices, arts and craft, and delicious food enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors from around the world. The most notable activities to catch at the Floral Parade that will start at the historic ‘Iolani Palace and ends at Kalakaua Avenue, and the Lei Draping Ceremony at the Kamehameha Statue.
- When: July 15, 2018
- Where: Kapi’olani Park
- The History: In 1971, only a few people showed interests in ukulele. That’s why Roy Sakuma organized the 1st Annual Ukulele Festival. It was his dream to present a free concert to show people that the ukulele could stand on its own. He believed that this is an instrument of sophistication and virtuosity, not just a rhythm background instrument.
- What to Expect: A full showcase of some of the most talented ukulele players in the world, with ukulele orchestra of over 800 students— mostly children — playing in the festival, along with guest artists from all over the world.
- When: August 18-26, 2018
- Where: Various locations in Waikiki
- The History: The festival celebrates Duke Kahanamoku’s life, his athletic contributions, and his spirit that still lives on. There is an earlier celebration named after the historic Duke Kahanamoku. However, this festival is longer and filled with more activities. It is also dedicated primarily to the King of All Swimmers himself.
- What to Expect: Nine days dedicated to a large variety of ocean sports close to Duke Kahanamoku’s heart. It includes longboard surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, tandem surfing, surf polo, beach volleyball, and stand-up paddling. The festival also has many competitions and tandem events.
Aloha Festivals, Waikiki Ho’olaulea & the Annual Floral Parade
- When: September 2018
- Where: Royal Grove (Opening Ceremony), Kalakaua Avenue (Ho’olaulea), Ala Moana Park to Kapi’olani Park (Floral Festival)
- The History: The Aloha Festivals is a month-long celebration that, before being Hawaii’s premier cultural showcase, started as the idea of a trio of former Honolulu Jaycees in 1946. It began as Aloha Week and served as a forum where people could join together in fellowship and celebration to share with one another the culture of the islands.
- What to Expect: There are three main celebrations. These are Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony, Waikiki Ho’olaulea, and Floral Parade. They also have one affiliated event called Pearlridge Keiki Ho’olaulea.
- The Opening Ceremony is accompanied by hula, chant, and pageantry.
- Keiki Ho’olaulea is a two-day celebration with free activities, demonstrations, performances, and more.
- Waikiki Ho’olaulea is Hawaii’s largest annual block party featuring local food, music, and entertainment.
- The Annual Floral Parade is a colorful presentation of horseback riders, performances, and floats covered with Hawaiian flowers.