Your Ultimate Guide to the Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival 2018

How to book swap, hear authors, watch dances, see Jake Shimabukuro and schedule it all at the annual free event.
Book swap
Photos: Courtesy of the Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival


What It Is

The Book & Music Festival has been celebrating the written word for 13 years. The free two-day festival is full of author readings and meetings—both local and internationally known—books to buy, live entertainment from story time (of course) to stage combat and kids activities. “People are hungry for real voices and interaction with authors,” said Roger Jellinek, executive director of the festival. “They want to hear the voice they read. Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival is unique [in] that it has such a strong music component, as well as themed programs only indirectly connected to programming books.”


Last year, the attractions drew 10,000 people—but spread out over two days and with so much space to roam, the feeling is usually laid back.


When and Where

Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Frank Fasi Civic Grounds, home to Honolulu Hale and other local government buildings.


Where to Park

The municipal lot underneath the grounds will be free. It’s big (and covered, yay!) but it can fill up by noon. 


Hawaii Book and Music Festival


What It Costs

Admission is free. That includes entertainment, readings, sessions and pretty much everything else. Just bring some cash to buy books, food or, if you have small ones, scrip for the Xtreme Fun rides.


What to Do

This is really the focus of this celebration of all things written. The Bank of Hawai‘i Book Swap, where you can trade five of your old titles for new ones, is a big draw.  Among the roster of star authors who will be appearing are two Pulitzer Prize-winners, a National Book Award winner, two who ranked No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list and local favorites including Chris McKinney, former UH football coach Dick Tomey and Maya Soetoro-Ng. See the full list on


We’re also anticipating big crowds for Jake Shimabukuro’s live concert Sunday starting at 3 p.m. The star attraction for kids is Steve Songs, known for his catchy lesson-teaching tunes on PBS. He’ll perform three times each day, likely to standing-room only crowds. HONOLULU Magazine will be there too. Managing editor Katrina Valcourt will be introducing readings by some of the local authors highlighted in our feature, “50 Essential Hawai‘i Books,” in our May issue. Stop by to see them Saturday at 2 p.m.


Click on the image to enlarge the map.


What to Eat

We spotted seven food vendors on the map: Burgers & Burritos Hawai‘i, ‘I‘iwi Kona Coffee Co., Il Gelato Hawai‘i, Mahoe’s Hawaiian Delights, India Café Curry Factory, Istanbul Restaurant and Waimānalo Country Farms. There will also be a farmers market booth and Ka‘iulani Spices, for future eating plans.


Other Fun: Where to start?

  • In the Food & Cookbook Pavilion, chef Mark Noguchi will do a cooking demo featuring local ingredients.  And on Saturday at 10 a.m. he’ll have an activity for keiki. Chef Lee Anne Wong will do a demo at 11 a.m. Jellinek says you may want to visit the nearby farmers market after that; items there sold out by noon last year.

  • Four hālau will perform, including Mapuana de Silva and Hālau Mohala ‘Ilima. And dancer Willow Chang has organized six ethnic dance groups for a big performance Saturday afternoon.

  • A free screening of Everything, Everything based on the best-selling book by the same name shows at the nearby Hawaiʻi State Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Author Nicola Yoon will discuss her book Sunday morning.

  • Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi will read her books twice in the Kristi Yamaguchi Reading Corner.



  • Pick up a BAMO Membership Card. The $30 membership fee helps fund the event and gives you benefits including a free year of HONOLULU Magazine or Hawaiʻi Business Magazine, a free book from the book swap, a tote and discounts at a number of businesses.You can get the card at the membership booth.

  • Try out the festival’s new scheduling program called SCHED. Check the website for the schedule, which you can sort by date, time, content, venue, presenter’s name or event. Check the ones you want to attend and create a personal schedule that you can email to yourself or friends. 

  • Interested in swapping books? Get there early. Executive director Jellinek says people start lining up an hour before the event so they can be the first to grab new or more popular books.

  • The busiest time is usually noon to 1 p.m. both days. The end will also be crowded as Jake Shimabukuro and Pandanus Club should draw a lot of fans when the music starts at 3 p.m.

  • Know all programming ends Sunday at 4 p.m.


Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival, Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Frank Fasi Civic Grounds.