Honolulu Hale Christmas
For nearly forty years, the city and county of Honolulu has hosted the Honolulu City
Lights, drawing in thousands of visitors to view the Electric Light Parade and tree-lighting
ceremony on opening night. The first official Honolulu Hale Christmas was created by Honolulu
Mayor Frank F. Fasi in 1985 and is still presented at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center grounds
today. This first celebration was not quite the massive event it is today, but the lighting of its
fifty-foot-tall tree sparked a tradition that would only gain strength in the following decades.
The Honolulu Hale Christmas festival offers a number of attractions, including a Shaka
Santa and Tutu Mele each standing at over twenty feet tall.
The Shaka Santa was first introduced
to the Honolulu Hale Christmas festival in 1989 by sculptor Kurt Nelson and it has since been
joined by Tutu Mele (Mrs. Claus), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and a variety of other
colorful statues. The Public Workers’ Electric Light Parade is another popular attraction,
incorporating Honolulu city agencies as well as local high school marching bands to entertain the
crowds. Finally, the 35th Annual Wreath Contest will be hosted here. This year’s theme is
“Splashes of Joy” and the competition is open to residents of O’ahu.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the popular Honolulu City Lights was
canceled in 2020. The tree-lighting ceremony returned in 2021, but it was closed to the public,
available only to view on local news. This year, we are looking forward to a complete return to
the classic Honolulu Hale Christmas, complete with the opening night parade and photos with
Shaka Santa! From December 4th to the end of the month, the Honolulu Hale Christmas tree and the
Wreath Contest Exhibition will be open daily in Lane Gallery. On the weekends leading up to
Christmas, families can visit Santa’s Village inside the Mission Memorial Auditorium. Here, keiki can meet and take photos with Santa himself! In the evening, there is a small variety of
food vendors available on and around the Honolulu Hale grounds in the instance that your group
Waikiki Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tour
If you are looking to skip the traffic the Honolulu Hale Christmas festival is known for,
Waikiki Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tour is the way to go. Waikiki Trolley has offered their
Holiday Lights Tour since the beginning of the Honolulu City Lights, running from December
4th-25th. This tour is especially popular, as it offers fun for the whole family. Guests are invited
to hop on and hop off at Honolulu Hale to admire the lights, statues, and wreaths. Tickets are $25
for adults and $17 for keiki, and include access to Waikiki Trolley’s Winter Wonderland. Here,
your group can enjoy hot cocoa, crafts, games, and photos with Santa Claus and his Grumpy
Green Friend! http://www.holidaylightshi.com
For many Honolulu residents, the opening of the Honolulu City Lights signals the official
beginning of the holiday season. It is looked forward to year-round, and this year, we are
celebrating its return to full capacity.
For more exciting things to see and do during your stay on Oahu check out our Things To Do page!