More than any other Hawaiian island, Oahu loves to host huge parties and festivals that draw crowds. Whether you are a Hawaii native looking to explore the best Oahu has to offer, or you are planning the perfect Honolulu vacation or destination wedding, explore some of the Best Oahu Festivals the island has to offer.
Best Oahu Festivals
The biggest and best-known Hawaiian Festival is the Aloha Festival, which started in 1947 and is held over the entire month of September. Attend a block party, watch a parade, enjoy live music and hula performances, and learn more about the history of Hawaii. All events are free, and the festival is a great way to connect to the spirit of Oahu.
The “premier cultural event” in the state, the annual Honolulu Festival takes place in March. The event draws crowds of thousands looking to experience authentic Hawaiian and Asian Pacific cultures. Watch traditional dance performances from Asian Pacific Islanders and see rare traditional arts and handicrafts. The annual festival is free and includes events all over the city, culminating in a grand parade. The one is year in and year out one of the best Oahu Festivals around.
Foodies won’t want to miss the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival, held on three consecutive weekends on three different Hawaiian islands in late October. While celebrity chefs from all over the globe will be in attendance, the event shines a spotlight on Hawaii’s local ranchers, fisherman, farmers, and food culture. Taste wine, eat local Hawaiian fare, take cooking classes, and try unique activities you’ll be talking about for years to come.
The Molokai Hoe, a 41-mile race in an outrigger canoe, has been going strong since 1952. Held annually in October, this race offers spectators the chance to take part in a major cultural tradition of Polynesia and Hawaiian islanders. The race draws more spectators than any Hawaiian sport except football. Paddlers race across over 38 miles of the Ka‘iwi Channel, heading from the Kawakiu Bay launch point to Oahu, testing their endurance, mental acuity, and physical strength with more than 8 hours of paddling.
May Day is better known as Lei Day on the island of Oahu. Since 1928, residents have celebrated the tradition of making lei. Always held on May 1 in Queen Kapiolani Park, lei day includes hula performance, lei making demonstrations, traditional crafts, Hawaiian foods, and a lei contest.
One of the best Oahu Festivals and probably the most well known is the Honolulu Marathon. Almost 25,000 runners finish the Honolulu Marathon each year, which makes it one of the 10 biggest marathon races for runners. Since the marathon has no qualifying standards for runners, anyone can enter. Sign up for the December race to test your mettle or go cheer on a friend. If you’re new to running, train so you don’t need the services of a Honolulu personal injury attorney for a race-related injury!
One of the biggest surf events of the year, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing takes place on Oahu’s North Shore. Held in November and December, the surf festival draws some of the biggest names in surfing. The Triple Crown has been held since 1983 and gives a respectful nod to the surf culture that predated U.S. contact with Hawaii. Watch surf masters at work and catch some rays on Honolulu’s famous beaches on a vacation you will never forget.
Held annually in the beautiful Moanalua Gardens, Honolulu’s biggest hula festival celebrates native Hawaiian culture. Sample favorite Hawaiian foods including poi mochi and shave ice, try the sport of ulu maika, or watch traditional artisans making ipu heke, kapa, or ukelele. The festival also features dozens of hula performers, so you can watch some of the island’s best.
Move over, mainland – Hawaii has its own Fashion Week held in mid November at the Hawaii Convention Center. The event offers a Hawaiian twist on fashion through runway shows, pop-up boutiques, exclusive parties, and more. This festival is one of Honolulu’s newest, but it’s already making a name among the fashion community.
The world’s largest sake festival taking place outside Japan, the Honolulu Joy of Sake event celebrates sake culture. Held at the Hawaii Convention Center, the festival showcases Hawaii’s sake offerings along with small plates from celebrated Honolulu restaurants. Over 300 different sakes are presented to sample. Sake fans will find something new to love.
These are some of the best Oahu Festivals and they all can draw crowds, so it is always a good idea to make your hotel reservations and get your festival tickets early. Then, you can focus on having fun and on staying safe. If you live locally, many of these festivals rely on Oahu volunteers so consider taking part!