Mariah Carey has been belting out Christmas tunes at our home on Maui since Black Friday. Mariah’s Merry Christmas album is hands down the best Christmas album in history.

If you prefer New Kids on the Block’s Merry Merry Christmas or, Erica’s favorite, Hanson Brother’s Snowed In then maybe you don’t know the true meaning of Christmas.

Don’t worry, if you are visiting Hawaii for the holidays you can expect a more Hawaiian soundtrack as holiday music (mele in Hawaiian) abounds. Plus, plenty of Christmas and aloha spirit. The Christmas trees are up at the hotels, Santa is always rocking a lei and ukulele, and palm trees are decked out with Christmas lights.

A word of advice on attending holiday events in Hawaii in 2021, many require a reservation due to COVID concerns. Sitting on Santa’s lap requires a reservation at most places.

Here are some holiday events to keep you and the family festive during your visit.

Hawaii Christmas Events Activities 2021 holiday decorations hawaii

The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Ka’anapali holiday decorations in front of the waterfall and palm trees. Feels like a white Christmas. The flamingos and parrots are around the corner (no joke, just over the koi pound).

Mele Kalikimaka! Christmas Events Around Hawaii in 2021

If you are here on the island now or planning a trip to Hawaii this Christmas, we have you covered with our favorite Christmas events on each island. Shopping, local craft fairs, banyan tree lightings, and so many more events make Hawaii so special for the holidays.

O’ahu Holiday Events

I love Maui for the holidays but Oahu knows how to party with aloha. A bigger population and shopping centers mean more events for your family. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Honolulu Hale City Lights Dec 6th through Jan. 2nd – an annual tradition of fun, cheer, bright lights, and decorations. This year features a 55-foot Christmas tree at the Honolulu Hale Courtyard donated from a Kailua family’s yard.
  • Aloha Land’s Winter Wonderland Nov. 19th through Jan 1st, 6:30 pm to 11 pm – enjoy a winter wonderland at Aloha Stadium. It features a drive-thru light show, 50-foot mega tree, socially distanced photos with Santa, walking light tunnel, food court and picnic area. Tickets available here.
  • Inaugural North Shore Christmas Festival Dec 3rd to 23rd 4 pm to 8 pm — Stop by the North Shore Stables (67-221 Waialua Beach Road) Christmas fun. Admission costs will be $10 for adults; $5 for those aged 13 to 17; free for kids aged 12 and below. Parking is free.
  • Where to Meet Santa near Waikiki:

Maui Holiday Events

I feel like Historic Lahaina Town is the best Christmas town for the holidays. The city is decked out with decorations and you can find singers performing around town for free.

  • Lahaina Banyan Tree Lighting All December 5:45 pm to midnight – thousands of colored lights hand from one of the country’s largest banyan trees
  • Baldwin House, Lahaina – the historic missionary house is hosting Kanikapila Serenaders on Dec 9th, 6 – 7 pm, cookie decorating for kids on Dec 18th from 6 – 8 pm, and a Snow Zone for kids 12 and under on Dec 18th, 6 -8 pm
  • Where to Meet Santa:
    • The Shops at Wailea is hosting Santa and a food drive on Saturdays through December, schedule a Santa photo from 4 to 7 pm
    • Lahaina’s Cannery Mall is hosting Santa on Dec 10th and 17th from 5 – 7 pm

Related articles:

Kauai Holiday Events

Kauai has not announced holiday events around the island. Check out the shopping centers like Coconut Marketplace in Kapa’a on the east coast. They offer hula shows, ukulele classes, and lei workshops throughout the week.

Big Island Holiday Events

  • Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade Dec 4th, 6 to 9 pm – If you are on the Big Island tonight, the drive-through parade begins at Kalani Schuttle Waimea District Park. See 60 holiday floats and trucks, plus Santa.
  • Haleki’i Market’s Mele Kalikimaka Extravaganza Dec 18th, 9 am to 2 pm – a special holiday market day to support local artisans and merchants, as well as highlight the market’s monthly community outreach kokua initiative done in collaboration with local organizations.
  • Hawaiian Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival Dec 11th – 13th 6 pm – 2 am – A local holiday festival featuring art and crafts made in Hawaii by local artists, live music and food from Keoki’s South Kona Grindz. Directions
  • Keauhou Shopping Center Dec 8th – 15th, 4 pm – 6 pm – cookies and crafts in the courtyard.
  • Where to Meet Santa: Waikoloa’s Queens’ Marketplace Dec 4th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th 5 pm – 8 pm – no reservation required and bring your own camera. Click here for details.

Whale Watching for Christmas in Hawaii

The holidays in Hawaii mean whale watching season! Whale watching is from December through March, making your holiday vacation a good time to see whales. 

December is the start of whale season around the Hawaiian islands. Maui is the best place to spot whales as it has the highest density of migratory humpback whales in the world.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching on Maui: Best Tours and Trips for everything you need to know, excellently written by Erica. She doesn’t use ‘ultimate’ lightly. We also have our 7 Tips for Whale Watching video, a YouTube seasonal favorite.

Hawaii Whale Watching Tour Discounts

Since we love whale watching, get 10% off your tour with Ultimate Whale Watch with promo code HVG at checkout. If you prefer a sailing cruise for whale watching, head out on Sail Maui with 10% off your trip with promo code HVG10 at checkout.

You don’t have to go out on a tour to see whales! Shoreline viewing can also be spectacular. Watch sunset and whale blowholes along the West Maui or South Maui coastline, see our article for our favorite shoreline viewing spots.

Whale Watching on the Hawai’i and O’ahu

In our opinion, the Island of Hawai’i (Big Island) is the second-best place to whale watch. There are a lot of wonderful tour companies that leave from the resorts along the Kohala Coast or down in Kailua-Kona. Check out our favorite Big Island whale watching tours here.

Oahu offers whale watching tours but, in my experience, more as a compliment to snorkeling and sunset cruises. Whales frequent the Waianae Coast north of Ko Olina Resorts and are even seen swimming by Diamond Head. You can see whales while hiking the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail, see our O’ahu hiking article for details on the hike. We recommend going out with Ko Olina Ocean Adventure for a snorkeling trip as they frequently see whales on their 3-hour morning and afternoon snorkeling cruises.

If you are looking for more things to do on your Hawaii vacation or maybe you are done surfing the web planning a perfect Hawaii vacation, then check out our itineraries. We have them for each Hawaiian island and they are so much better than a guidebook! Our itineraries include excursion days that are perfectly planned out days on what to do, where to eat, and tips on saving money, then check them. out here – Hawaiian island itineraries.

Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz


I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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