Kauai’s Festival of Lights features Christmas trees decked with colorful, creative ornaments. // © 2017 Ron Kosen
Feature image (above): Shoppers in T-shirts delight in a sudden snowstorm at Maui’s Queen Kaahumanu Center. // © 2017 Queen Kaahumanu Center
Hawaii has no trouble attracting travelers during the year-end holidays, thanks to its warm and sunny weather.
At the same time, there are many lesser-known lures that make the 50th State a go-to destination in December. Here are some distinctive ways in which Hawaii shares a generous dose of aloha in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Through Dec. 24: Iolani Palace Ornament, Oahu
Clients can trim their trees in island fashion with an exclusive Hawaii ornament that has been designed after a uniform button from the reign of Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani. Look for the $25 brass and gold adornment in the palace gift shop.
Dec. 1-24: Festival of Lights, Kauai
Outside, Kauai’s historic county building turns into a tropical fairyland with festive lights. Inside, during each weekend evening, clients discover a free display of cleverly themed Christmas trees festooned with recycled ornaments.
Dec. 2: Christmas With the Chefs, Hawaii Island
Clients renounce their diets during this al fresco feast prepared by talented local chefs. A silent auction triggers gift-giving ideas, and a jazz ensemble encourages dancing under the stars at Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.
Dec. 2: Waimea Cheer, Hawaii Island
Located upcountry, the town of Waimea holds a yearly holiday fair featuring island crafts, food, music and raffles. Come evening, trucks lit up like rolling Christmas trees headline a parade from Church Row to Waimea Park.
Dec. 2: Electric Light Parade, Oahu
After the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Honolulu Hale (City Hall), a radiant procession of floats winds through downtown Honolulu. Also on hand are food booths, children’s rides, a display of decorated trees and visits with Santa.
Dec. 2-3: Banyan Tree Lighting, Maui
Thousands of colored lights hug the historic Lahaina banyan for the entire holiday season. The first weekend in December features hands-on crafts, face painting and an appearance by Banyan Snowman, built on-site and ready for photo ops.
Dec. 2-23: Let It Snow, Maui
Queen Kaahumanu Center treats shoppers to periodic 10-minute snowfall shows on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The winter wonderland is orchestrated to merry music. Kids get snowflake wands, and early arrivals sip complimentary hot chocolate from Starbucks.
Dec. 3: Slack Key Carols, Oahu
Free performances by 15 top slack key guitar players kick off the season at West Oahu’s Ka Makana Alii shopping center. Solos, duos and trios, plus food and giveaways, put attendees in a jolly mood.
Dec. 9: Tree Lighting at Ulupalakua, Maui
MauiWine hosts this Upcountry party that starts just after sunset. Along with the lighting of a 20-foot-tall pine, families enjoy a movie under the stars, live tunes, crafts and a Santa sighting. The winery stays open late for tastings.
Dec. 17: Paddle for Keiki (Kids), Maui
Hawaiian Paddle Sports and Street Bikers United join forces for this goodwill gathering. Highlights include casual ocean races and Santa’s arrival in an outrigger canoe full of toys. Monetary donations go toward gifts for Maui youngsters in need.