Aloha Festivals, September
Triple Crown of Surfing, November & December
Merrie Monarch Festival, March/April
Koloa Plantation Days Celebration, July
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, November
Typically Hawaii’s wettest and coolest month, January is when tourist high season gets into full swing, with snowbirds escaping winter elsewhere. The Martin Luther King Jr holiday on the third Monday is especially busy.
Chinese New Year
On the second new moon after the winter solstice, usually between late January and mid-February, look for lion dances, firecrackers, street fairs and parades. Honolulu’s Chinatown celebrations are the biggest; festivities on Hilo (Big Island) and Lahaina (Maui) are notable too.
Peak tourist season continues, with weekends around Valentine’s Day (February 14) and Presidents Day (third Monday) usually booked solid at resorts. Winter storms bring more rainfall and cooler temperatures.
Waimea Town Celebration
Over a week in mid-February, more than 10,000 folks gather in Waimea (Kaua‘i) to celebrate with canoe races, a rodeo, lei-making contests and live music.
It's another busy month to visit Hawaii, despite lingering rainfall. College students and families take a one- or two-week ʻspring break’ around Easter, falling in March or April.
Whale & Ocean Arts Festival
Throughout the winter, Maui welcomes its most famous visitors – migratory humpback whales – including with an annual whale count and an art show, live entertainment and kids’ activities in early March.
In mid-March, this three-day festival is a unique blend of Hawaiian, Asian and Polynesian cultures, with an arts-and-crafts fair, live music and dance performances, culminating in a grand parade followed by a fireworks show.
Prince Kuhio Day
All islands honor the March 26 birthday of the man who would’ve become king if Queen Liliʻuokalani hadn’t been overthrown. Kauaʻi bustles with a two-week arts and cultural festival, featuring a rodeo, canoe races, live music and Hawaiian storytelling, crafts and more.
Peak tourist season winds down as rainstorms lessen. Resorts are less busy after Easter, once college students and families finish taking their ʻspring break' vacations.
Merrie Monarch Festival
On Hawaiʻi (Big Island), Easter Sunday (falling in late March or early April) kicks off Hilo's week-long celebration of Hawaiian arts and culture. The Olympics of hula competitions draws top troupes from all islands, the US mainland and abroad.
East Maui Taro Festival
On Maui, the rural town of Hana throws its biggest party over the last weekend in April, with poi making, an arts-and-crafts fair, hula dancing and lots of island music.
Waikiki Spam Jam
How much does Hawaii love Spam? Residents consume almost seven million cans each year. Waikiki’s wacky one-day street festival in late April, attended by thousands of folks, is all about ʻono kine grinds (good eats).
Crowds thin and prices drop slightly between spring break and summer vacation. Temperatures remain mild, with mostly sunny and cloudless days. Hotels sell out for the Memorial Day holiday weekend in late May.
Oʻahu's month-long celebration of Hawaiian music, with ukulele and slack key guitar workshops, concerts and hula performances, leads up to Na Hoku Hanohano, Hawaii's version of the Grammy Awards.
Across Hawaii the traditional craft of lei making gets its own holiday on May 1. Oʻahu crowns a lei queen in Waikiki; Lihuʻe's Kauaʻi Museum holds lei-making workshops and a contest; and Hilo hosts lei-making demonstrations and hula on the Big Island.
Getting in before most families start taking summer vacations, visitors in early June can take advantage of warm, dry weather and discounts on hotels and flights.
Molokaʻi Ka Hula Piko
According to Hawaiian oral history, Molokaʻi is the birthplace of hula. In early June, this free, three-day hula festival draws huge crowds to its sacred hula performances and Hawaiian hoʻolauleʻa (celebration).
In Honolulu, this three-day festival in early or mid-June combines family-friendly celebrations of Hawaiian, Japanese and other Pacific Rim cultures, with hula dancing, taiko drumming and live music, ending with a huge parade and block party in Waikiki.
King Kamehameha Day
On June 11, this state holiday is celebrated on all islands. North Kohala (Big Island), the king's birthplace, holds all-day festivities and a grand parade.
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
Hawaii’s longest-running culinary extravaganza attracts taste-makers to West Maui's Kapalua resort in mid-June. Show up for cooking demonstrations by TV celebrity chefs and wine tastings with master sommeliers.
King Kamehameha Hula Celebration
In late June, Honolulu’s King Kamehameha Hula Competition is one of Hawaii’s biggest contests, with dancers from all over the world performing downtown.
Temperatures rise and rain is scarce. School summer vacations and the July 4 national holiday make this one of the busiest travel months. Book early and expect high prices.
In early July this festival celebrating Lanaʻi’s special relationship with the pineapple is the island’s main bash, featuring kid-friendly activities, live music and food in Lanaʻi City. (Never mind that Lanaʻi no longer grows any of its own pineapples!)
Across the islands, Fourth of July celebrations inspire fireworks and fairs, but maybe the most fun is had at rodeos held in the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) towns of Waimea (Kamuela) on the Big Island and Makawao on Maui.
Prince Lot Hula Festival
On the third Saturday in July, one of Oʻahu’s premier Hawaiian cultural festivals showcases noncompetitive hula performances in a garden setting at a former royal retreat, giving it a graceful, traditional feeling.
Koloa Plantation Days Celebration
On Kauaʻi’s south shore, this nine-day festival in mid-July is a huge celebration of the island's sugar-plantation and paniolo heritage. It’s like a state fair, Hawaii-style, including a parade, rodeo, traditional games, live entertainment, movies and guided walks and talks.
Families taking summer vacations keep things busy all around the islands. Hot, sunny weather prevails, especially on the islands’ leeward sides. Statehood Day is a holiday observed on the third Friday of the month.
Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament
Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island, is the epicenter of big-game fishing, and for more than 50 years this has been Hawaii’s grand tournament. It’s accompanied by five days of festive entertainment in late July, August or early September.
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival
On Oʻahu, free open-air concerts by ukulele and slack key guitar legends, with food and craft vendors and an arts-and-crafts fair, happen in mid-August. Spin-off events sometimes take place during other months on Kauaʻi, Maui and the Big Island.
Music & Mango Festival
After Labor Day weekend in early September, crowds start to fade away at beach resorts as students go back to school. Hot, dry weather continues.
Begun in 1946, the Aloha Festivals are the state’s premier Hawaiian cultural celebration, an almost nonstop series of events on all the main islands during September. On Oʻahu, look for a Hawaiian royal court procession and Waikiki’s block party.
Queen Liliʻuokalani Canoe Race
In Hawaii, traditional outrigger canoeing is alive and well, and fall is the big season for long-distance events. Everything kicks off over Labor Day weekend with these races along the Big Island’s Kona Coast.
Kauaʻi Mokihana Festival
In mid-September, Kauaʻi’s week-long contemporary Hawaiian arts and cultural festival includes a three-day hula competition in ancient and modern styles, as well as the Kauaʻi Composers Contest & Concert in Lihuʻe.
Na Wahine O Ke Kai
The slowest month for tourism, October brings travel bargains on hotels and flights. Weather is reliably sunny, but very humid when the trade winds don't blow.
You can’t call yourself a coconut festival and not get a little nutty. In fact, Kapaʻa on Kauaʻi gets downright silly, with two days of pie-eating contests, coconut crafts, recipe cook-offs, live entertainment and local food in early October.
Eo e Emalani I Alakaʻi
On Kauaʻi, Kokeʻe State Park reenacts Queen Emma’s historic 1871 journey to Alakaʻi Swamp during a powerful one-day festival in early October, with a royal procession, and Hawaiian music and hula performances.
Ironman Triathlon World Championship
This legendary triathlon on the Big Island's Kona coast is the ultimate endurance contest, combining a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike race and 26.2-mile marathon. Watch more than 2300 athletes push their own limits in mid-October.
Maui Ukulele Festival
Herald Hawaii’s favorite stringed musical instrument outdoors at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in mid-October, with guest appearances by stars such as Jake Shimabukuro and Kelly Boy DeLima.
Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival
Hawaii's hottest chefs and most lauded artisan farmers gather for this homegrown culinary celebration, with stellar farm-to-table food, and cocktail and wine tastings in mid-October to early November on Oʻahu, Maui and the Big Island.
On Maui, Lahaina’s Halloween carnival was once so huge it was dubbed 'Mardi Gras of the Pacific.' It's been scaled back, but is still a great street party. Other places to get festive on October 31 include Waikiki on Oʻahu.
Toward the end of the month, vacationing crowds (and scattered rainfall) start returning to Hawaii. Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday is a popular and pricey time to visit.
Hawaii International Film Festival
In early November, this highly regarded festival of Pacific Rim cinema screens more than 200 Asian, Polynesian and Hawaii-made films, with the main action in Honolulu.
Moku O Keawe
In early November, this three-day Big Island hula festival draws top hula halau (schools) from Hawaii, Japan and the US mainland to competitions, workshops, and a marketplace for hula fashions and traditional crafts in Waikoloa.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
For 10 days during the harvest season in early November, the Big Island honors Kona brews with a cupping competition, a coffee-picking contest, a recipe cook-off, coffee farm tours, art shows, live music, hula and more.
Kohala ʻAina Festival
In early November, the start of the traditional Hawaiian harvest season, Kohala shows off its agricultural pride at this festival with a 100% Big Island–grown feast, plus DIY workshops, live music and fun activities for kids.
Triple Crown of Surfing
Oʻahu’s North Shore – specifically Haleʻiwa, Sunset Beach and Pipeline – hosts pro surfing’s ultimate contest, known as the Triple Crown of Surfing. Thrill-a-minute competitions for women and men run from early November through mid-December, depending on when the surf’s up.
As winter rainstorms return and temperatures cool slightly, peak tourist season begins in mid-December, making the Christmas to New Year’s holiday period extremely busy – and expensive.
Held on the second Sunday in December, the Honolulu Marathon is Hawaii’s biggest and most popular foot race. It attracts more than 30,000 runners every year (more than half of whom hail from Japan), making it one of the world's top 10 marathons.