Your Ultimate Guide to the 2023 Punahou Carnival
Mark your calendars for Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4. Here’s everything you need to know about where to park, what to eat and where to shop.
On your mark, get set, go! Everyone’s raring to go to this year’s Punahou Carnival, which is back in full swing for the first time since the pandemic. Each year, students of the junior class vote on a new theme—this year is “Pun Prix ’23: Pedal to the Metal.” So, expect all the grand prix race themes—and of course, everyone’s favorite malassadas.
What is Punahou Carnival?
This annual carnival is a popular Punahou School tradition that’s been taking place since 1932. What started as a fundraiser for the school’s yearbook evolved into a two-day carnival that raises money for Punahou’s financial aid program. More than 4,500 volunteers—students, parents, alumni volunteers—and staff put in countless hours of hard work and planning to bring together the event. With 60 different vendors offering malassadas, mango chutney, lei po‘o, potted plants and much more, people from all over the island flock to the carnival each year for family fun.
Where and When
The Punahou Carnival will take place on Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., across Punahou’s lower campus in Mānoa, at 1601 Punahou St. Keep in mind that the main entrance is at corner of Punahou Street and Wilder Avenue.
Where to Park at This Year’s Carnival
Parking is very limited at the school, so consider these community parking spaces—many organizations are partnering with Punahou School just for the carnival and parking fees go toward their own individual fundraiser.
- Catholic Charities Hawai‘i: open 4:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight on Saturday; $10, all day, no in-and-out privileges.
- Central Union Church: open both days, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; $10, no in-and-out-privileges
- Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children: open from 3 p.m. on Friday, all day Saturday; $3 for the first two hours, $5 for two to four hours, $9 for four to eight hours, $25 for eight to 24 hours
- Lutheran Church of Honolulu: open both days, 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 p.m.; $15, no in-and-out privileges
- Maryknoll High School: open both days 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; $30 for all day parking, or $10 for four hours, each additional hour $10, no in-and-out privileges, cash only
- Maryknoll Grade School: open Friday, noon to 11 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; $15 for four hours; $15 for up to four hours, $50 for all day; entrance will be from Alexander Street; no in-and-out privileges
- The Parish of St. Clement: open Friday 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; $18 all day, no in-and-out privileges; parking passes with in-and-out privileges available for $40 for one day, $70 for two days
- Shriner’s Hospital for Children: open both days; early access tickets, 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; reserved with in-and-out privileges, $45; reserved stall with in-and-out privileges, 4 to 11:30 p.m., $30; one-time entry, nonreserved, 4 to 11:30 p.m., $15; purchase tickets in advance for Friday here or Saturday here.
If parking is stressing you out, consider catching TheBus routes 4, 5 or 18. Or, ask a friend to drop and pick you up or opt for a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft.
How to Pay
This year, the carnival will not be accepting any cash for scrips. The staff will take all major credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Note that debit cards will require a PIN. Once you’ve purchased your scrips, you can use them for games, food and fun E.K. Fernandez rides. Please note that the E.K. Fernandez FunPass will not be accepted this year—all attendees must use Punahou Carnival scrip to ride. Admission is free.
This Year’s Rides
Woohoo, the E.K. Fernandez rides are back! However, they are only limited to kiddie rides this year—like the Speedway, Magic Maze, Balloon Race (54 inches maximum height), Helicopters (54 inches maximum height) and a new ride called the Air Show. These rides will be available on both days until 9 p.m. The Jungle Twist, Carousel, Dizzy Dragon, SuperSlide and Lolli Swings will be open both days until 11 p.m.
What To Do
The Carnival Art Gallery will be showing paintings and 3D work that you can view and purchase in the Cooke Learning Commons. The gallery will offer pieces created by local artists—proceeds are split between the artist and the carnival fundraiser. There was an online jewelry store, but it closed on Jan. 18.
Expect a huge second-hand goods sale with clothing, toys, books, music and much more. Items are collected throughout the year by volunteers and proceeds support the school’s financial aid program. Our personal favorite section is dedicated to books and has its own separate entrance and offers all sorts of genres and bargains!
This year’s silent auction is online again and accessible to the public. The auction opens Wednesday, Feb. 1, at noon and closes on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 4 p.m. You’ll need to register here for online bidding. There’s a good variety of items and experiences for sale, like show tickets, spa treatments, jewelry and more. Select items will be displayed in Kirsch Gallery during the carnival and volunteers will be around to help you bid online if you need assistance.
Bread: The Variety Show
The senior class puts together a performance each year for the carnival—they’re involved in everything from writing to graphic design, costumes, set construction and stage management. This year, Bread: The Variety Show incorporates student-choreographed dance numbers and student-written music. Expect loaves of bread puns and purchase tickets early for the 45-minute show, as seats sell out fast. Tickets are priced at $20. Showtimes are 1 and 5 p.m. on both days. Purchase variety show tickets here.
Games to Play at Punahou Carnival 2023
Keiki and adults of all ages can enjoy plenty of fun games, including:
- Air Ball
- Bean Bag
- Fish Swish
- Frogs in the Lily Pond
- Grab Bag
- Kiddie Basketball
- Menehune Strongman
- Mini Golf
- Puka Horseshoe
- Ring Toss
- Sand Pile
- Splat Trap
- Tic Tac Toe
- Wheel of Fortune
What To Eat at Punahou Carnival 2023
Did you know that Punahou Carnival sells about 140,000 malassadas each year? These deep-fried pieces of doughy goodness are rolled in more than 5,000 pounds of (donated) sugar. There are always long lines, so this year, there will be two malassada booths to manage demand. There will also be another burger booth, so there will be plenty of food available. Here’s what’s on the menu:
- Hawaiian Plate
- Ice Cream
- Portuguese Bean Soup
- Sweets and Treats (a new booth selling popcorn, cotton candy and candies)
- Taco Salad and Nachos
Here’s what’s on the schedule for live performances by local bands and musicians:
Friday, Feb. 3
Noon to 1 p.m.: Kailua Moon Band
1 to 2 p.m.: Imu Jam
2 to 3 p.m.: Kanikapila ’73
3 to 4 p.m.: The Barefoot Boys
4 to 5 p.m.: The Rocky Hillbillies
5 to 6 p.m.: Punarock
6 to 7 p.m.: I Ku Mau Mau
7 to 8 p.m.: Mānoa DNA
8 to 9 p.m.: Kai Duhaylonsod
9 to 10 p.m.: UV
10 to 11 p.m.: 02’ Jamman
Saturday, Feb. 4
Noon to 1 p.m.: Punahou Alumni Glee Club
1 to 2 p.m.: Shawn Conley
2 to 3 p.m.: The Art Kalahiki Band
3 to 4 p.m.: The Band Tantalus
4 to 5 p.m.: The Hanahau‘oli BusBoyz
5 to 6 p.m.: Ke ‘Olu
6 to 7 p.m.: Isabella Kala‘i
7 to 8 p.m.: Kapono Wong
8 to 9 p.m.: O‘ahu College JAZZ Band
9 to 10 p.m.: O‘ahu College Band
10 to 11 p.m.: Jenny Yim
Tips to Enjoy Your Punahou Carnival Experience
- Come early for the jam and jellies as they sell out fast.
- For families on a tight budget, there are bargains galore, especially at the White Elephant tent.
- If the main carnival area is too crowded, swing by the Hawaiian Plate area at Dole Hall, mauka of Rice Field parking. It’s a relaxing getaway from the main carnival area, with great Hawaiian food and a place to sit and enjoy a variety of live music acts.
- Wear comfortable shoes and consider bringing a light jacket and an umbrella in case it rains.
For more information, visit punahou.edu/news-and-events/carnival.