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    Where to Celebrate the Winter Holidays on Oahu

    If you’re stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, MCB Hawaii, or one of the other military bases on Oahu, experience the December holidays “Hawaii style!” The tropical climate doesn’t hinder the festive spirit. Locals go all out with spectacular lights, attractions, and local flavor.

    Here are some of the major celebrations in Honolulu and beyond!

    christmas tree at honolulu haleChristmas tree at Honolulu Hale. Photo from Canva.

    Oahu Holiday Lights and Festivals

    Honolulu City Lights

    Honolulu City Lights is among the most well-known holiday exhibits on Oahu. Hosted at Honolulu Hale, the festival features a giant Christmas tree, sculptures of "Shaka Santa" and his wife, Tutu Mele, plus many other holiday displays. Popular local vendors sell food, and Friday, December 22 is free milk and cookie night! 

    This festival is free and runs through December 29.

    Holiday Lights Tour

    A fun way to visit the Honolulu City Lights is on a double decker bus! The tour starts at Kewalo Basin, where Waikiki Trolley hosts its Winter Wonderland. Enjoy hot cocoa, games, and photos with Santa before hopping on the bus, which travels throughout downtown Honolulu to Honolulu Hale.

    The tours run daily between December 3-27. Buy tickets on the website.

    Festival of Lights Boat Parade 

    Head over to Hawaii Kai Town Center to watch this incredible display! A parade of light-adorned boats will cruise by the Marina starting at sunset, plus you have opportunities to win gift cards from businesses in the mall. 

    The festival is free and takes place December 16  from 4-7 pm.

    Show Aloha Land 

    This giant holiday extravaganza at Aloha Stadium is a can’t-miss for families! Featuring a drive-through light show, snow tubing (yes, they make real snow), a zipline, and a giant bounce house, there’s no shortage of action for the kids. The festival also offers photos with Santa and plenty of food for purchase.

    The show is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in December plus Christmas (a Monday). Buy tickets in advance on the website.

    Kapolei City Lights

    Kapolei hosts its annual holiday light display at Kapolei Hale between December 9 and January 2.  This year’s theme is “A Westside Wonderland” and will highlight communities on the leeward side of Oahu.

    Hukilau Marketplace 

    The Polynesian Cultural Center’s annual Christmas festivities include holiday lights, photos with Santa, live entertainment, and a holiday train for the kiddos. It’s open December 15-22 from 6 - 8:30 pm.

    christmas lights on palm tree

    Photo from Canva

    Other Neighborhood Lights

    Neighborhoods all over Oahu boast elaborate holiday lights and other decorations. Here are a few of the most well-known:

    Kaneohe: Homeowners on Namoku Street transform their block into “Christmas Tree Lane” with a variety of incredible decorations.

    Kailua: Head to Akumu Street to check out this popular display on Oahu’s windward side.

    Kaimuki: Pu’u O Kaimukī Mini Park, also known as “Christmas Tree Park,” is a popular spot to see panoramic views of Honolulu. The Christmas tree, which is actually made of metal and lights, is aglow nightly throughout December. 

    Mililani: This neighborhood in central Oahu draws visitors from around the island who come to see the annual display. The spectacle is on three cul-de-sacs off Mahinahou Street. 

    Waikele: Make your way to Anapau Place to check out the synchronized light show, which runs nightly from 7 - 9:30.

    blue and silver ornaments on christmas treePhoto from iStock.com/bpperry

    Oahu Military Holiday Events

    Besides the public holiday events, check out these military-only celebrations!

    Tower Lighting Celebration at Freedom Tower

    Join the 54th annual celebration at the Freedom Tower in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam housing. It features live entertainment from two military bands, a laser light show, “local-style” ice skating, food, and giveaways.

    The celebration takes place on December 15 from 4:30 - 7:30 pm. Participation is free and open to all ID-card holders and sponsored guests.

    Hale Koa Hotel

    The Hale Koa (a military-only resort in Honolulu) has special holiday meals and events for Christmas and New Years. 

    Bibas Courtyard Grill has Christmas and New Years meals (reservations highly recommended). The hotel is also hosting a special New Year's Eve Luau in their garden (tickets required).

    You do not need to be a registered guest at the hotel, but you must have a military ID to make the reservation. The ID card holder can sponsor guests.

    If you’ve been stationed in Hawaii, what’s your favorite local holiday celebration? Tell us in the comments!

    Mele Kalikimaka!

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    where to celebrate the winter holidays on oahu

    Stephanie Montague


    Stephanie Montague

    Stephanie Montague is the founder of Poppin' Smoke, a website dedicated to helping members of the military community take advantage of their travel-related benefits. She has been traveling and living abroad with her husband since he retired from the Army in 2015. Through Poppin’ Smoke, Stephanie shares everything she and her husband learn about Space-A travel and using military benefits while abroad. Also, through her Facebook group, U.S. Military Retirees and Veterans Living Overseas, Stephanie facilitates a large and growing community of veterans who are interested in living overseas after their military career.

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