Late summer and early fall see more festivals and special events on Oahu than any other time of the year. As I suggest to folks in our feature When to Visit Hawaii, I often try to plan my trips to Hawaii around one of these big annual events.
Let's look at some of the biggest of these being held on Oahu in the next three months.
The 13th Annual Te Mahana Hiro'a Tumu O Tahiti, the largest Tahitian dance competition in Hawaii, returns to the Polynesian Cultural Center, July 13-14. This event will showcase the skill of dancers dedicated to preserving the art, culture and traditions of Tahiti. Attracting visitors and locals alike, this festival features tamari'i (youth) and taure'are'a (adults) from all over Hawaii as they dance to the sounds of Tahiti ranging from slow melodies to rapid beats.
Don't miss the opportunity to find the perfect gift from Hawaii at the Hawaii All-Collectors Show from July 20-21. This annual collectibles and antiques show and sale, held at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, features more than 200 booths with one of the largest selections of Hawaiiana under one roof.
The 35th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival, held July 21 at Moanalua Gardens, celebrates hula kahiko (ancient hula and chant) and also features 'auana (modern) hula performances. Dancers will perform on one of the few remaining pa hula (hula mounds) in Hawai'i. Attendees can also enjoy a made in Hawai'i craft fair, cultural demonstrations, local food and more.
Experience a broad spectrum of traditional, contemporary and ethnic arts at the 15th Annual Haleiwa Arts Festival Summer Event, from July 21-22. This event includes visual artists, musicians, singers, dancers, demonstrations, storytelling, student art displays, historical trolley tours and children's arts and crafts. Browse and purchase unique works by artists of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
Local 'ukulele legend Roy Sakuma and his sponsors help to keep the 'ukulele alive and relevant with the 42nd Annual 'Ukulele Festival on July 22. The free five-hour concert showcases the finest 'ukulele players from around the world, along with national celebrities, Hawaii's top entertainers, and an 'ukulele orchestra of more than 800 students, mostly children. The festival benefits 'Ukulele Festival Hawaii, a charitable non-profit organization.
Polynesian Cultural Center hosts the Te Manahua Maori Cultural Competition, Aug. 9-11. Immerse yourself in the native culture of New Zealand through song and dance competitions, which will include haka (male posture dance) and poi (a graceful dance implement with the twirling ball on end of string), and visually stunning kakahu (attire). This year's festival will also include a concert on Friday, featuring two of New Zealand's top artists - Maisey Rika and Ria Hall - making their Hawaii debut.
From Aug. 17-19, visitors and locals can enjoy more than 400 exhibitors offering a wide variety of items made and grown locally at the Made in Hawaii Festival. Products for sale include art, clothing, food, home furnishings, jewelry, toys, fresh produce, plants, and authentic Hawaiian handicrafts. The festival also includes performances by award-winning entertainers and cooking demonstrations by Hawaii's top culinary artists.
On Aug. 18, The Kahala Hotel & Resort, in association with Young's Market Company of Hawaii, will present The Kahala Hotel & Resort's 2012 Wine & Food Classic: A Celebration of France. Featured wineries will include award-winning vintners from California with a special emphasis on celebrating the French art of winemaking. Guests will enjoy sampling a variety of wines from several vintners as well as gourmet dishes of France. The Kahala's Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi is creating a specialty menu that focuses on culinary cuisine from the French provinces.
Slack key guitar originated in Hawaii in the 19th century with Hawaiian paniolo (cowboys), and continues to gain popularity. The 30th Annual Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival on Aug. 19, will celebrate the cultural importance of the unique acoustic guitar art form of "Ki ho'alu," which means "loosen the key." The festival takes place at Kapi'olani Park and features performances by well-known slack key musicians.
The Greek Festival, held at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park from Aug. 25-26, celebrates Greek culture with ethnic food, live entertainment, cultural booths, and more. The popular annual festival is sponsored by the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
The Hawaii United Okinawa Association presents the 30th Annual Okinawan Festival from Sept. 1-2. The event kicks off with a mini procession inside Kapi'olani Park featuring a taiko drum performance. The three-day festival at Kapi'olani Park celebrates Okinawan culture with food, entertainment, arts, crafts, and cultural activities.
The 2nd Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival will span four days from Sept. 6-9, at The Modern Honolulu, Halekulani, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and Ko Olina Resort with Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa and JW Marriott's Ihilani Resort & Spa. Over 50 world-class chefs will create innovative dishes inspired by the diverse culinary and cultural traditions of the Hawaiian Islands. Prepared with Hawaii's enviable bounty of locally-sourced produce, seafood, beef, poultry and other ingredients, this destination event will also promote the importance of food security and supporting local farmers, ranchers and fisherman to ensure Hawaii's sustainable future.
Ala Moana Center presents a celebration of all things fashion at The Fall Fashion Event, Sept. 6-9. Shoppers can enjoy a weekend filled with stunning fashion shows, a stylish gift-with-purchase, luxurious giveaways, opportunities to give back to the community, and more. In addition, participating merchants will offer chic in-store demonstrations, exclusive products, promotions and deals.
Aloha Festivals, the largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the United States, takes place on Oahu on Sept. 15 and 22. The festival celebrates Hawaii's music, dance, and history, and is intended to preserve the islands' unique traditions. Festivities include a Waikiki Ho'olaule'a on Sept. 15 and a floral parade on Sept. 22.