You Can Ice Skate at the Hawai‘i Convention Center This Winter

Winter Wishes—A Holiday Festival will include a big ice rink, Christmas tree decorating, Olympic gold medal winner Kristi Yamaguchi and an opportunity to help local kids enjoy reading.
Ice skates on a rink
Photo: Getty Images


Townies, rejoice. This year, the ice rink is coming to you. Today the Hawai‘i Convention Center announced the biggest event its team has ever planned. Just after Thanksgiving, the 56,000-square-foot King Kamehameha III Exhibit Hall will look a lot like Christmas for Winter Wishes—A Holiday Festival. The monthlong festivities include not only skating but a holiday marketplace, photos with Santa, gingerbread house competitions, keiki activities and soon-to-be announced special breakfast and brunch events. A portion of all proceeds will benefit Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation’s work in local schools.


Here is what you need to know:


  • The 82-by-50-foot ice-skating rink, the first ever at the convention center, will open the day after Thanksgiving. Up to 164 skaters at a time will be able to lace up and take to the ice rink, which is being shipped in from Long Beach, California. Ice America will take a little more than a week for installation.


  • Tickets start at $10 for a one-day weekday pass for kids and seniors and top off at $70 for a season pass. Admission includes all activities including selfies with Santa, crafts, live entertainment and access to the shopping vendors. It does not include ice-skate rental or parking at the convention center, which cost $10 each, although the center notes that prices are subject to change. Gingerbread house kits will also be purchase only.


  • If you want to get into the Christmas-tree decorating contest, the convention center is offering $2,000 sponsorship packages that include the opportunity to decorate a tree that will be displayed throughout the festival. Winners will earn an ice-skating party for 150 guests, parking and skates included. Proceeds from the contest will also benefit the Always Dream Foundation.


Winter Wishes Promotional image


Yamaguchi, who first thrilled skating fans (including me) with her world titles and Olympic gold medal-winning performance in the ’90s, will be here on Saturday, Nov. 30, for the official opening and tree-lighting ceremony. She is in Hawai‘i this week to launch her early childhood literacy program at two schools in Windward O‘ahu.


“We feel like we’re just getting started with our work in Hawai‘i,” Yamaguchi says. “It’s been about five years, I think, that we’ve been in the schools and we’re currently rolling out a 2.0 version of our reading program.”


Each local kid in the program receives a tablet loaded with the foundation’s application, which provides access to hundreds of books. Parents and their children learn how to use it, learn strategies, then receive encouraging text messages and updates throughout the year to encourage them to continue to make reading an inspired part of their lives.


“The first six weeks are focused on picture walking, which is not necessarily about reading the words on the page but just looking at the book and talking about the story that you see in the pictures," Yamaguchi says. "‘Do you know what kind of animals you see on the page?’ or ʻWhat do you think they’re doing right here in the story?’”


Yamaguchi returns to the Islands several times every year to check in with schools. There is also talk that, after the grand opening, she might be involved with a special event on the ice. (More details are promised later. We’re keeping an eye on it.)


Winter Wishes—A Holiday Festival opens Friday, Nov. 29, and runs through Tuesday, Dec. 24; 4–9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4–10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Sunday. Weekday tickets start at $10 for one-day access for kids 3–11 years old and seniors, $15 for general admission. Prices increase $5 on weekends. Season passes are $50 to $70 and include 50% off skate rentals. Hawai‘i Convention Center, 1801 Kalākaua Ave. Buy tickets and find more information at