Your Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Honolulu Festival
Catch live cultural performances, indulge in food from across the globe and more from March 6-8.
Update as of March 3, 2020: Organizers have canceled the entire festival to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i. Read more here.
Photos: Courtesy of Honolulu Festival Foundation
If you’re interested in learning about the cultures of the Pacific Rim, the Honolulu Festival is the place to be. Now in its 26th year, the three-day festival typically attracts thousands of visitors and performers every year who pack the Hawai‘i Convention Center and other venues in Honolulu. Here’s our guide to what to expect, what to watch and more.
What It Is
The Honolulu Festival features cultural exhibitions, performances, food, crafts and more from Friday, March 6, to Sunday, March 8. These events, most of which are free and open to the public, are held throughout Honolulu, including at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center, Waikīkī Beach Walk and International Market Place.
When and Where
The event begins on Friday, March 6, with educational school tours, a reception at Washington Place and a friendship gala (get your tickets for the gala here).
The main part of the festival starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 7, with a pretty impressive lineup of cultural dances, music and traditional arts at the convention center. About 130 groups from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and the Mainland will travel to Hawai‘i to perform, along with several local groups. Performances end at 8 p.m. on March 7 and are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 8.
You can also catch live performances at Ala Moana Centerstage, Waikīkī Beach Walk and International Market Place.
The convention center also hosts a bon dance, Japanese film festival and dance workshops, along with a fair featuring more than 100 food and craft vendors and kids games and activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 7, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 8.
The festival culminates in a parade down Kalākaua Avenue beginning at 4 p.m. March 8, and a 15-minute fireworks show at Waikīkī Beach at 8:30 p.m.
Check the festival’s website for a list of performers.
Where to Park
Park at the convention center for $12.
Event organizers say the entertainment schedule (in English and Japanese) detailing the dozens of live performances will be uploaded by Feb. 27 to the festival’s website. Or pick up a copy at any of the venues during the event.
Highlights of this year’s performances include dance groups from Australia and Alaska, traditional Korean percussionists and many hula hālau from Japan. Local performances also include an Okinawan taiko group, a girls unicycling club and Chinese martial arts demonstrations. The bon dance will be held at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the convention center.
New this year is the Sake & Food Fest, featuring free samplings of sake, shochu and awamori, an alcoholic beverage native to Okinawa. Those 21 and older (they’ll be checking IDs) can head to the convention center on March 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and March 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No tickets are required.
Grab a Honolulu Festival newspaper at any of the performance locations. It will have a full entertainment schedule, information on each group and the parade route.
Many of the food and craft booths at the convention center will accept credit cards, but bring cash just in case. If you forget, there will be ATMs inside.
Arrive early, and bring lawn chairs and mats to claim your spot along Kalākaua Avenue for the parade. Remember to also pack snacks and water. The opening performance begins at 4 p.m. Stay in Waikīkī for the fireworks show to follow (if you skip the parade, plan to arrive early for that too).
For more information, visit honolulufestival.com.