Hawaiian Christmas Events on Oahu

Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus Honolulu
RobertCravens / Getty Images

Nowhere in the United States is Christmas celebrated in such a unique way as in Hawaii. While much of the country dreams of a white Christmas with Santa bringing presents on his sleigh on Christmas Eve, in Hawaii, Santa often arrives on a surfboard or outrigger canoe, and unless you're at the summit of Mauna Kea, you won't see snow or any cold weather. And Hawaii has another important event in December: remembering the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Check out this list for seasonal events in December.


  • 01 of 06

    Every year, Honolulu has a month-long Christmas lights display at Honolulu Hale (the city hall). For 2017, 56 animal-themed ornaments, which celebrate the Honolulu Zoo, hung from the city's 50-foot Christmas tree. Opening night was Dec. 2, 2017, and the lights stayed on until Jan. 1, 2018.

    Each year on opening night, the mayor of Honolulu flips the switch on the lights, followed by the annual parade of festooned vehicles and school bands on River Street that continues through downtown. Special events continue at Honolulu City Lights throughout December.

  • 02 of 06

    Lighted Cobra and Huey helicopters, floats, and bands parade down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki on Dec. 7 each year to honor the fallen at the attack on Pearl Harbor, the survivors, and all veterans. The parade route goes from Fort DeRussy in Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park. In 2017, parade-goers enjoyed more than 2,000 people march in this parade along with 10 bands.

  • 03 of 06

    Ballet Hawaii puts on its annual December performances of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," and they have a twist in which they are set in the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1858, but still tell the story of this classic Christmas ballet. Performances are at Blaisdell Concert Hall usually scheduled in mid-December for a short run.

  • 04 of 06

    Make-a-Wish Hawaii sponsors this walk and run through Honolulu City Lights in downtown Honolulu annually. But don't come in running clothes—this run isn't timed, so you can wear some holiday finery and bring pets and strollers if you'd like.  Show up at the Hawaii State Capitol building at 3 p.m. for early events. The walk and run start at 6 p.m., entrance fees are $35 per person, and all funds go to Make-a-Wish.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    For a totally Hawaii-inspired event (water, boats, and the hula), check out the Festival of Lights Boat Parade. Boats decorated for the season with bright lights will cruise by the marina at Hawaii Kai Towne Center on Oahu in this annual event. And there's live entertainment, too: The U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific will perform, and that will be followed by an authentic hula performance. 

  • 06 of 06

    Santa knows that he can't land in Hawaii in his sleigh, so he goes to Plan B: He shows up at the beach in a canoe. Each year, he lands at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu in early December. He'll be happy to let you take his picture in the lobby of the resort after he arrives.