7 Absolutely Free Things to Do in May 2018

It wouldn’t be May without a Lei Day celebration full of flowers, hula and musical performances. Plus, get your agricultural knowledge on “Nalo Style” at the Third Annual Parade of Farms or take a break from the heat for a free movie screening at the East-West Center.

91st Annual Lei Day Celebration

May 1

Lei Day
Photo: Courtesy of the City and County of Honolulu

Celebrate a day of lei and Hawaiian culture at Kapi‘olani Park with festivities all day long. Spend the day watching The Royal Hawaiian Band, hula performances, steel guitar concerts, the Lei Court and myriad other performers and entertainers. If you’re a lei-maker you can submit your own creation for the contest between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m on the day of the event, or just marvel at the work of others when the exhibit opens from 1p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There will be lei, craft and food vendors open throughout the park as well.

Kapi‘olani Park, 2806 Monsarrat Ave., to view the full schedule visit honolulu.gov


Cinco De Mayo Party at O‘ahu Mexican Grill

May 5

Cinco de Mayo
Photo: Courtesy of O‘ahu Mexican Grill

We may not all know why we celebrate Cinco De Mayo (FYI: it commemorates a battle in 1863 when the outnumbered and out-skilled Mexican army bested the French army’s attempted invasion) but we all know why we love to celebrate it–margaritas and tasty Mexican food! Try your luck winning raffle prizes, step onto the dance floor for some salsa dancing and listen to music by DJ Toshi anytime from 7 a.m. till closing (10 p.m.) on May 5th at O‘ahu Mexican Grill.

2520 Kalākaua Ave., Second Floor, omg.menu


13th Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival

May 5–6

Hawaii Book and Music Festival
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival

The annual celebration of books and music promises over 200 speakers, events and activities over a two-day period. Listen to talks by local writers of all genres and watch demonstrations, hula and musical performances. There will also be discussions on a wide array of topics, from healthcare and tourism to mindfulness and feminist issues. And while it’s free to listen to speakers, bring your keiki for the activities and jam out to musical performances, we encourage you to buy a pile of books to take home.


On May 5th at 2 p.m., there will be readings from authors chosen for HONOLULU’s “50 Essential Hawai‘i Books.”

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Frank F. Fasi Civil Grounds at Honolulu Hale, hawaiibookandmusicfestival.com


26th Annual Filipino Fiesta and Sixth Annual Flores De Mayo

May 5

Flipino Fiesta
Photo: Courtesy of the Filipino Community Center 

Learn more about Filipino culture and arts while enjoying tasty and delicious Filipino food and watching performers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Filipino Community Center is presenting a combination Filipino Fiesta and Flores De Mayo (Flowers of May) festival for children and adults alike. Explore the crafts, culture, art and dance of the Philippines and be sure to bring sunscreen since the event will be held outdoors along the ocean at Kaka‘ako Gateway Park.

Kaka‘ako Gateway Park, 677 Ala Moana Blvd., filcom.org/?src=OPI


Third Annual Parade of Farms: “Nalo Style”

May 5

Parade of Farms
Photo: Courtesy of Parade of Farms

Ever wanted to explore the lush farms in Waimānalo or had a burning question for a farmer but never got a chance to ask? Despite some events being canceled due to recent storm damage, the Parade of Farms is still being held and you can spend your Saturday learning what “Nalo Style” is all about. Buy local produce at the farmers market or take a free walking tour around the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Research Station to learn about local farmers and farming. Farmers will share their unique behind-the-scenes perspectives and agricultural knowledge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

UH Waimānalo Research Station, 41-698 Ahiki St., Waimānalo, parade-of-farms.org


Spring Horse Show

May 12–13

Spring horse show
Photo: Courtesy of The Koko Crater Stables Restoration Project

Neigh we say more? The Koko Crater Stables Restoration Project is a horseback riding center and school which advocated against demolition of the stables in 2016. Koko Crater Stables is dedicated to reviving the stables for riders, trainers and horse lovers alike. Eat tacos and watch talented horse riders jump and race for this family-friendly event in Koko Crater.


Starts at 8 a.m., 408 Kealahou St., parking is in the Koko Crater Stables property, not the Botanical Gardens, facebook.com/kokocraterstablesrestorationproject/


Free Screening of Travellers and Magicians

May 27

Travellers and Magicians
Photo: Courtesy of the East-West Center

For the final day of the Bhutan: Gross National Happiness exhibit at the East-West Center there will be a free screening of the movie Travellers and Magicians, about a Bhutanese official making the journey to the U.S. Take some time before or after the movie to explore the exhibit, which portrays the experiences, turmoil, struggles and triumph of everyday Bhutanese people, from farmers and monks to nightclubbers and students. Parking on campus is free on Sundays and seating for the movie is first-come, first-serve.

East-West Center Gallery, John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East-West Road, arts.eastwestcenter.org


Lantern Floating Hawai‘i

May 28

Lantern Floating Hawaii
Photo: Courtesy of Lantern Floating Hawai‘i

Each year since 1999 the Shinnyo-en school of Buddhism hosts the Lantern Floating Ceremony. Individual lanterns will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for writing remembrances on. Then, you can personally place in the water with other lanterns the evening. You can also go to their website and write a note to go on a collective remembrance lantern. The event is a blend of Buddhist and Hawaiian practices, beginning with a pū or conch shell to start the event, followed by taiko, hula and traditional offerings. It concludes with the lighting and floating of more than 7,000 lanterns in the evening light at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Ala Moana Beach Park, 1201 Ala Moana Blvd., lanternfloatinghawaii.com