Your Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Punahou Carnival

This year’s Punahou Carnival takes place Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8. Here’s your guide to where to park, what to eat and everything in between.

Editor’s note: Before you say anything, HONOLULU Magazine uses the traditional Portuguese spelling of the word “malassada.”


Punahou Carnival 2018

Photo: David Croxford


Musical icons are dominating our screens right now. From the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated Elton John biography Rocketman to Renée Zellweger starring as Judy Garland in Judy to the upcoming Netflix documentary Miss Americana, this year’s theme, “Music Through the Ages: A Chart-Topping Carnival,” is very much on trend. Along with navigating the food and game booths, here’s what else you need to know about the school’s annual carnival.


What It Is

Punahou Carnival 1932
Punahou Carnival, 1932
Photo: Courtesy of Punahou School


With E.K. Fernandez rides, famously fresh malassadas, homemade mango chutney and a highly anticipated white elephant sale, this local favorite is not your typical school fair. The Punahou Carnival is an O‘ahu tradition that originated in 1932 (called the “Oahuan Campus Carnival” back then) as a fundraiser for the school’s yearbook. Now in its 88th year, the two-day carnival brings together people of all ages from all over the island to raise money for Punahou’s financial aid program.


Each year’s carnival is sponsored by the school’s junior class. This time, it’s the class of 2021, who, along with hundreds of student, parent, faculty/staff and alumni volunteers, have been spending their free time planning and preparing it outside of school hours.


Punahou Carnival
Photo: Kelli Bullock


Where and When

The carnival is typically held during the first Friday in February. This year, it’s on Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Punahou’s lower campus in Mānoa (1601 Punahou St.). The main entrance is on the corner of Punahou Street and Wilder Avenue.



Where to Park

Parking is limited on the school campus, so Punahou’s website recommends parking at:


  • Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, open 5–11 p.m. on Friday, 10:30 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday, $10, all day, no in-and-out privileges.
  • Central Union Church, open 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday, $10, all day, 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 10:45 a.m.–11:15 p.m. both days, $15, no in-and-out privileges.
  • Maryknoll Grade and High school, open 5:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m., $15 for four hours, $50 for all day, no in-and-out privileges.
  • The Parish of St. Clement, open Friday 7 a.m.–11:30 p.m., 9 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Saturday, $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 — Honolulu, open 6 a.m.–11:59 p.m., $35 for a reserved stall with in-and-out privileges. Friday, 4–11:59 p.m. Saturday, starts at $20 all day, no in-and-out privileges. Those interested can buy tickets in advance for Friday here or Saturday here.


If you don’t feel like stressing about parking, you can also catch TheBus routes 4, 5 or 18 (all of which stop close to the campus), get dropped off or use your favorite ride-hailing app.


Punahou Carnival
Photo: David Croxford


How Much it Costs

Although some carnivals on the island charge you a fee just to walk in, entrance to the Punahou Carnival is free. That means you can take a look around first, then decide if you want to stay, leave and come back later, or just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere if you’re not in the mood for a food baby or an adrenaline rush.


Once inside the gate, you can purchase scrip from multiple booths on the carnival grounds for games and food and/or reload your E.K. Fernandez Fun Pass for the rides.


Punahou Carnival Pricelist


What to Wear

We’re pretty sure it has rained every time we’ve gone to the Punahou Carnival. It’s winter here and the campus is near Mānoa, after all. The carnival is on grass/dirt for the most part, so bring light rain gear and wear shoes you won’t mind getting a little muddy.


What to Eat

Photos: Kelli Bullock


One word: malassadas! Punahou makes its own signature malassadas with an original recipe that dates back to 1957. Another favorite is the carnival’s famous homemade mango chutney, but you have to go early to get some (as in, within the first couple of hours on opening day). You can also eat teri burgers, chicken plates, gyros, taco salad, corn on the cob, Portuguese bean soup and more.


You can also take a break from the main carnival area for some ‘ono Hawaiian food (lau lau, lomi lomi salmon, haupia and poi) and live music at Hawaiian Plate in Dole Hall.



You can find bathrooms scattered throughout the campus. Use this handy map if you need help finding a bathroom and for a general idea of the carnival grounds.


Punahou Carnival Map


Other Carnival Fun


Note: For the third year, th Art Gallery, which was usually held in the Mamiya Science Center, is in the Learning Commons at Cooke Library. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and features hundreds of pieces created by more than hundreds of Hawai‘i artists. Scrip, cash and credit cards are accepted. Proceeds are split between the artist and the carnival fundraiser.



This year, bidding in the silent auction takes place all online. You can see the items in person from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cornuelle Lecture Hall. Last year auction items included a set visit to Hawai‘i Five-0, lauhala mats, gift certificates to MW Restaurant and Hawai‘i Doggie Bakery, paintings, sculptures, airline tickets and Punahou’s famed mango chutney. Bidding ends 4 p.m. Saturday.


Mango chutney


The Variety Show

The Variety Show in Dillingham Hall is the senior class contribution to the carnival. This year’s show, 2020 Endgame: Escape from Punaverse!, is an original student-led production that incorporated theater, music, dance and comedy. You may want to buy your tickets now—the show typically sells out.



Browse the big second-hand sale with clothing, toys, music and a whole section of books.



  • Tag your pics with #PunahouCarnival and they could show up on Punahou School’s website and at the entrance to the art gallery.
  • Don’t buy scrip from the first booth you see walking in. The scrip booths in the center of the carnival by Dillingham Hall and in the E.K. Fernandez tent always have shorter lines.
  • If you want to take malassadas home, ask for some without the sugar on them. You can reheat them later and roll them in your own sugar for a fresher taste.