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If you are in Hawaii now or planning a trip to Hawaii this Christmas, we have you covered with our favorite things to do in Hawaii during Christmas. Your family will thank you.
Christmas hula shows, local craft fairs, holiday parades, and so many more events that make Hawaii such a special place for the holidays. We even share where you can find Santa around each Hawaiian island.
After you select what to do in Hawaii during Christmas, read our Hawaii Christmas Vacation Planning for 19 tips on visiting Hawaii during one of the busiest and merriest times of the year.
Christmas Activities in Hawaii (2023)
Our favorite thing to do during the holidays in Hawaii is to visit the shopping centers. Not just to buy Hawaii-made gifts but for the free Christmas hula shows, mele (Hawaiian for music), Santa Clause, and other free holiday activities.
Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island for Christmas thanks to the numerous activities they have every year. The biggest being the New Year’s Eve fireworks, Honolulu City Lights, and the Christmas parade.
Here are the Hawaii Christmas season’s favorite things to do on each of the Hawaiian Islands for your Christmas vacation. Bookmark this page and we will update it as more events are scheduled closer to the holidays.
Things to Do in Oahu During Christmas
I love Maui for the holidays but Oahu knows how to party with aloha. A larger population and more shopping centers mean more Christmas events for your family. Here are some of our favorites.
- Honolulu Hale City Lights Dec 2nd through Jan. 2nd – an annual tradition of fun, cheer, bright lights, and decorations. See their website for special events during the month.
- Aloha Land’s Winter Wonderland Mid-Nov through Jan 1st, 6:30 pm to 11 pm – enjoy a winter wonderland at Aloha Stadium. It features a light show, a 50-foot mega tree, photos with Santa, a walking light tunnel, a food court, and a picnic area.
- Chinatown Winter Walk December 1st – 31st – Over 40 Chinatown merchants will decorate their storefronts for the holidays. The whole district will be transformed for Christmas. Walking maps are available around Chinatown. Cost: free!
- North Shore Christmas Festival — Stop by the North Shore Stables (67-221 Waialua Beach Road) for Christmas fun from December 8th – 23rd. Admission costs will be $10 for adults; $5 for those aged 13 to 17; free for kids aged 12 and below. Parking is free.
- 3rd Annual Show Aloha Land December 1st – 31st – Bring the kids to Aloha Stadium for tobogganing, a zip line, the human snow globe, a light show, and three trains for the kids (keiki). Tickets: $42 per person
- Pearl Harbor Memorial Anniversary Parade December 2nd to the 10th– in honor of December 7th, Waikiki hosts an annual parade to pay respects to those who served at Pearl Harbor with events like live Jazz & Blues band performances, outdoor movie nights on Waikiki Beach, reef laying ceremonies, an opening gala and block party, a night at the museum, dinners, ceremonial memorial services, a parade, and finishing off with a Honolulu Marathon.
- Kapolei City Lights and Block Party – the Westside Winterwonderl land features a block party and holiday parade. If you’re staying in Ko Olina Resorts, check out this festival.
- Find a full calendar of Christmas events around Oahu (including Ko Olina) with music shows, marathons, and pop-up art fairs here: December Christmas events.
- Where to Meet Santa near Waikiki:
- Ala Moana Center’s Photos with Santa — Photo sessions with Santa will be scheduled starting in mid-November to Christmas Eve; click here for hours of operation.
- Royal Hawaiian Center’s Photos with Santa — Every Saturday from Nov. 27 to Dec. 22, those who wish to meet Santa can snap a photo with him between 5 and 7 p.m. All guests will be given a free printed photo; no personal cameras will be allowed.
- International Market Place – check their holiday events schedule for photos with Santa and Christmas shows on their beautiful stage.
- Waikiki New Year’s Eve Fireworks – if you’re still in Waikiki for NYE, come down to Waikiki Beach to see the annual fireworks show.
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Things to Do in Maui During Christmas
Unfortunately, Historic Lahaina Town was my favorite Hawaii town for Christmas. The community hosted an annual Christmas parade, lighting of the banyan tree, and other activities at the historical sights around town.
I’ve removed the Lahaina Christmas activities from our list but I hope to bring them back as the town rebuilds. Here are things to do on Maui for Christmas.
- Fireworks on Maui for New Year’s Eve: There will be two public aerial fireworks displays in Maui County for New Year’s Eve. One offshore of the Grand Wailea Resort, and the other at the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi at Mānele Bay. Both displays begin at approximately 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2023.
- Festivus 5K Run and Half Mile Keiki Dash December 17th at 7:00 AM – Enjoy a festive run for the Maui Food Bank leaving from Kahana Beach Park. Learn more here: Festivus Run 2023
- Where to Meet Santa:
- The Shops at Wailea is hosting Santa and a food drive on Saturdays through December
- Hawaii Christmas Vacation: The Best and Cheapest Island for Your Holiday Vacation
- Planning a Trip to Hawaii: 15 Essential Details
- Hawaii in December: Everything to Know For Your Trip
Things to Do in Kauai During Christmas
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.
- Kauai’s Festival of Lights daily from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, 6 PM to 11 PM – Santa is available for pictures at the Historic County Building porch. Holiday decorations and holiday music abound.
- Waimea Christmas Parade December 3rd, 5:30 PM – a Christmas light parade complete with cowboys on horseback.
- Island Artisan Fair – head to Princeville for the annual Christmas craft fair. Check their schedule for times and dates.
Things to Do on the Big Island During Christmas
- Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade December 10th, Saturday – the annual parade goes down Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona with local marching bands and floats.
- Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade Dec 3rd, 5:30 pm to 9 pm – If you are on the Big Island, check out the annual Christmas parade through Waimea town. See 60-holiday floats and trucks, plus Santa.
- Hilo Christmas Light Parade November 26th – Hilo is the cutest town in Hawaii and its annual Christmas parade is what one would expect.
- Haleki’i Market’s Mele Kalikimaka Extravaganza December 10th and 11th, from 10 AM to 5 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. Purchase tickets here.
- Hawaiian Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival November 25th and 26th – A local holiday festival featuring art and crafts made in Hawaii by local artists, live music and food. Free entry!
- Mauna Kea Visitor Center – TBD if this is back this year. grab your winter jackets and drive up Mauna Kea volcano for hot chocolate and Christmas star gazing.
- Keauhou Shopping Center – cookies and crafts in the courtyard during December. See the Keauhou Shopping Center event schedule for details.
- Where to Meet Santa: Waikoloa’s Queens’ Marketplace in December from 5 pm – 8 pm. No reservation is required to visit Santa 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 world’s highest density of migratory humpback whales.
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
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 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. Explore all our favorite Big Island whale-watching tours.
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 Adventures for a snorkeling trip as they frequently see whales on their 3-hour snorkeling tours.
If you are looking for more things to do on your Hawaii vacation during the holidays 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.