There’s no better way to be engrossed in local culture than to get out and celebrate with the locals. Whether that means catching a dazzling dance show, mingling over food and wine or letting your hair down at a local street party, it’s a sure-fire way to see a new destination ring true to its roots. Hawaii’s calendar is brimming with fun-filled festivals and events, so be sure to catch these show-stoppers before the year is out.
Taste Hawaii on a plate and swirl it around your glass at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, held in early September. Attracting over 100 internationally-renowned chefs and culinary personalities, master wine sommeliers and spirit producers, the epicurean calendar spans wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, foodie excursions and exclusive dining opportunities not to be had elsewhere. Held over two weeks and hosted across multiple islands, Hawaii’s top chefs are always cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and this year, Australia’s own Tetsuya Wakuda and Phillip Johnson will also be there to plate up their own tasty twists on the fresh local produce.
It’s Hawaii’s biggest party and an unmissable event on the calendar. Over a million people join in the colourful and flamboyant cultural celebrations every year, as the islands transform into a jovial soiree of Hawaiian music, food, history and dance offering insight into unique island traditions. Formerly ‘Aloha Week’, the amazing Aloha Festivals now spans the entire month of September, kicking off with a traditional chant, hula and introduction to the Royal Court. Be lured to over 100 events ranging from dance competitions and musical performances to floral parades and street parties.
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Duke’s Oceanfest sees ocean spray fill the air and the palm-fringed shores of Waikiki spring to life with competitive spirit. The city’s premier ocean sports festival, it acts as an honourable nod to Hawaii’s legendary ‘waterman’ Duke Kahanamoku. A five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, a surfer and esteemed canoe steersman, he was also a Hollywood actor and once the Sheriff of Honolulu. Held in perfect time to culminate on Duke’s birthday anniversary, on 24 August, the 10-day event includes events like surfing, stand-up paddling, swimming, surfboard water polo and wounded warrior canoe regatta, as well as a traditional lu’au and beachside movies.
You don’t have to enjoy the warm, rich flavours and aromas of coffee to have a wonderful time at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. But you’ll probably want to – Kona is one of the most expensive coffees in the world! The true intent of the celebrations however is to delve into and preserve the 200-year coffee heritage that has sustained Kona’s agricultural community for generations: the pioneers, farmers and artisans behind the brew. A region central to commercial coffee production in the USA, the action kicks off in early November. Catch the Kona beauty pageant, coffee recipe competition, coffee picking race, art shows, food pairings, discussions, farm tours and other caffeine-charged cultural events.
Pick up a souvenir or simply look; Waikiki Artfest is visually enthralling. A celebration of Hawaiian arts, this market-centric event offers a colourful glimpse into Hawaiian culture in its most beautiful forms. Jewellery, clothing, wooden carvings, stained glass, ceramics, candles, quilts and lauhuala products are just some of the unique creations crafted at the hands of talented local artisans. There are usually 75 to 100 creatives here on display. Meet the makers behind the work while enjoying the food stalls and live entertainment. Held on the last Saturday and Sunday of each month, you don’t even have to wait all year to get there.
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