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With its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and rich Polynesian culture, Hawaii is a dream vacation destination any time of year. If you’re planning a trip to the Aloha State, you may be wondering what holidays are celebrated in Hawaii so you can experience local traditions and festivities.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Some of the major holidays celebrated uniquely in Hawaii include Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day, Kamehameha Day, Admissions Day, and Prince Kuhio Day.

Beyond these statewide public holidays, individual Hawaiian islands also have annual celebrations of local cultural events and traditions.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide an overview of all the public holidays, traditional observances, feast days, and festivities celebrated annually across the Hawaiian islands. With abundant details on the history and customs associated with over 15 different holidays and events, you’ll discover the diverse cultural influences that shape modern Hawaiian life.

Statewide Hawaiian Public Holidays

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day on January 1st is the first public holiday of the yearly calendar in Hawaii. Most businesses and public services in the state close for the day apart from major retailers, medical services, and restaurants that remain open.

Public transit schedules may also see changes or reduced frequency of service on New Year’s Day. Many locals mark the occasion with beach BBQs and firework displays to welcome in the New Year with joy and revelry.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The third Monday of January is set aside to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate his birthday. Government services and offices are closed statewide with only critical medical facilities remaining available to the public.

Some interisland ferry services may also operate on a reduced schedule for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day falls on the third Monday of February in Hawaii. The public holiday honors former U.S. presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Most non-retail businesses and government agencies will be closed, while public transit, ferries, and tourist services may run on a limited timetable.

Some major retail outlets capitalize on the long weekend by running Presidents’ Day sales promotions.

Good Friday

Good Friday is a commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ two days before Easter Sunday. Many electrical and public utility services may be unavailable on Good Friday along with state libraries and various government offices including motor vehicle registration and licensing in Hawaii.

Public transit services generally operate on a regular schedule.

Memorial Day

The last Monday of May is Memorial Day which honors members of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice. Government buildings, public institutions and DMV offices across Hawaii observe the public holiday by remaining shut while banks operate shorter opening times.

Retail, medical, restaurant and key transport services still function as normal on Memorial Day.

Independence Day

July 4th Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The major public holiday results in closures of local and state government offices in addition to U.S. post offices across Hawaii.

Some interisland ferry routes may operate on a

  • Sunday schedule
  • with adjusted sailing frequencies and boarding times.

    Statehood Day

    On the third Friday in August, Statehood Day marks Hawaii officially becoming the 50th state when President Eisenhower signed the proclamation in 1959. Most businesses remain open except government buildings, courts and banks which typically close in observance of Statehood Day.

    Public transit systems follow normal timetables.

    Labor Day

    The first Monday of September hosts Labor Day to applaud the social and economic contributions American workers make. Like other holidays, local and state government offices shut while retail outlets usually hold Labor Day sales.

    Public transportation operates a regular service but interisland ferry routes can sometimes see reductions dependent on the provider.

    Discoverers’ Day

    Second Monday of October plays hosts to Discoverers’ Day, celebrating the arrival of British explorer, Captain James Cook to Hawaii in 1778. Government workers get the day off except emergency and medical services.

    Banks typically have shorter opening hours with shops, restaurants and public transit operating as usual on Discoverers’ Day.

    2022 Date Monday, October 10
    2023 Date Monday, October 9

    Election Day

    Election Day occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years for statewide general elections. Government offices and schools stay open as normal so citizens can freely cast votes at polling stations and ballot boxes across Hawaii.

    Public transit runs on its ordinary schedules to facilitate voting accessibility.

    Veterans Day

    November 11th hosts Veterans Day to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Most Hawaii state and government employees get the day off except emergency services like healthcare, police and fire rescue.

    Retail stores usually remain open with malls sometimes offering promotions during Veterans Day weekend.

    Thanksgiving Day

    The last Thursday of November celebrates Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for life’s blessings and bountiful harvests. Virtually all public institutions and government buildings observe Thanksgiving by closing across Hawaii. Public transit tends to run Sunday or reduced holiday timetables.

    Major retailers keep doors open while some close early evening.

    Christmas Day

    December 25th indicates Christmas Day, celebrating the nativity of Jesus Christ. Government offices, DMV services and public institutions remain closed statewide in Hawaii. Public transportation often operates Sunday schedules if no additional service reductions are in place.

    Most restaurants and eateries open on Christmas Day but hours can vary.

    Uniquely Hawaiian Public Holidays

    Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day

    Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day on November 28 commemorates the signing of the 1843 Sovereignty Restoration declaration by King Kamehameha III. This document affirmed Hawaii’s independence after a five-month occupation by the British.

    Today, this holiday continues to celebrate Hawaiian self-governance and culture. Annual events include a two-mile torch-lit procession to Iolani Palace and ceremonies honoring Hawaii’s history.

    Kamehameha Day

    Held on June 11, this lively statewide holiday honors Hawaii’s great unifier and first ruler, King Kamehameha I. Festivities often feature floral parades with colorfully-decorated floats, hula dances, Hawaiian music, craft fairs, and feasts.

    Many also view this as a day to celebrate Hawaiian culture and way of life. According to a 2022 survey, over 90% of Hawaii residents participate in some way.

    Admissions Day

    On the third Friday in August, Hawaii commemorates Admissions Day – August 21, 1959 – when Hawaii officially became the 50th U.S. state. Events include a reenactment ceremony of the first raising of the American flag at Iolani Palace led by state officials.

    Other celebrations incorporate both American and Hawaiian cultural elements, like bands playing both national anthems and children dancing hula. State and county offices are closed per Hawaii’s admissions day law.

    Prince Kuhio Day

    March 26 honors Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, known for his efforts to restore Hawaiian culture in the early 1900s. He was a delegate to U.S. Congress and spearheaded the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act to return land to Hawaiians. To celebrate, most state and county employees have the day off.

    Many attend festivals showcasing Hawaiian music, crafts, food and the hula. Schools often focus lessons on Prince Kūhiō’s legacy. The Prince Kūhiō Celebration Parade also takes place in Waikiki.

    Island-Specific Holidays and Celebrations

    Chinese New Year (Oahu)

    Chinese New Year celebrations take place across Oahu each January or February, with cultural performances, parades and fireworks. Popular events include the Chinatown Cultural Plaza Chinese New Year Celebration and the Narcissus Festival which is one of Hawaii’s biggest Chinese New Year celebrations.

    Merrie Monarch Festival (Hawaii)

    The world-renowned Merrie Monarch Festival takes place annually in Hilo celebrating Hawaiian arts and culture. Occurring after Easter, the week-long event highlights various forms of Hawaiian dance and arts. It is considered the most prestigious hula competition globally.

    Lei Day (Statewide)

    Lei Day on May 1 is an annual Hawaiian holiday celebrating flower leis across all islands. A highlight is the lei draping ceremony honoring Hawaiian royalty at the former Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Lei Day events often feature Hawaiian music, hula, crafts and food.

    King Kamehameha Hula Competition (Oahu)

    Established in 1971, the 3-day King Kamehameha Hula Competition takes place each June at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu showcasing Hawaii’s hula traditions. Dancers compete in hula kahiko (ancient) and hula ‘auana (modern) categories for over $35,000 in total prize money.

    Aloha Festivals (Statewide)

    Spanning September to October annually, Aloha Festivals celebrate Hawaiian culture and history across all islands. Some highlights include the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade, the Aloha Festival Ho’olaule’a street party and the Aloha Week Hawaiian Music Concert.

    Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Hawaii)

    The annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival held on Hawaii Island each August/September celebrates the islands’ gastronomy. Headlining culinary talent lead cooking demonstrations along with wine and spirit seminars and tasting events.

    Na Hula O Kaohikukapulani (Hawaii)

    Translating to “the hula of Heavenly Hawaii”, the Na Hula O Kaohikukapulani hula competition occurs in late July/early August bringing Hawaii Island dance troupes together to compete at the outdoor Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

    Hawaii International Film Festival (Oahu)

    Screening over 150 films annually, the Hawaii International Film Festival hosted in Honolulu features premieres and advance screenings of domestic and international productions. Red carpet events occur nightly during the 10-day November event.

    Key Cultural and Religious Holidays

    Good Friday

    Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Easter Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday.

    Easter Sunday

    Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion on Good Friday. It marks the culmination of Holy Week and ends the Easter Triduum. Easter Sunday is the most important day in the Christian calendar and is celebrated with church services, family gatherings, Easter egg hunts and special meals.


    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Lasting 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, observing Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset. Ramadan culminates with Eid al-Fitr, the “Festival of Breaking Fast”.

    Eid al-Fitr

    Eid al-Fitr is the “Festival of Breaking Fast” marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. One of Islam’s two major holidays, Eid al-Fitr starts on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and lasts for one to three days.

    Muslims celebrate with special prayers, gatherings with family and friends, gift-giving and donations to charity.

    Eid al-Adha

    Eid al-Adha is the “Festival of Sacrifice” commemorating the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to demonstrate submission to God’s command. Also called Bakra Eid or Bakrid, the four-day celebration honors sacrificial devotion. Muslims celebrate with special prayers, slaughtering livestock, distributing meat to the needy, gift-giving and visiting relatives.

    Rosh Hashanah

    Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, marking the beginning of the High Holy Days leading up to Yom Kippur. Observed over two days by those living in Israel and Reform communities overseas, traditions include sounding the shofar ram’s horn, attending prayer services, gathering with family for festive meals and eating apples dipped in honey.

    Yom Kippur

    Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, also known as the Day of Atonement. Lasting about 25 hours from sunset to nightfall, observant Jews fast, refrain from work and attend synagogue services of repentance, culminating in the final shofar blast.


    Diwali, the “Festival of Lights”, is a five-day Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. Observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists, celebrations include lighting oil lamps and candles, setting off firecrackers, exchanging gifts, visiting family and friends and preparing festive meals and sweets.

    Bodhi Day

    Bodhi Day commemorates the enlightenment of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India. Observed by Mahayana Buddhists on December 8th, some traditions celebrate by meditating, studying the Dharma, chanting sutras and performing kind acts towards other beings.


    From Chinese New Year festivities on Oahu to Easter celebrations statewide, Hawaii’s diverse cultural makeup leads to a wide array of holiday traditions being honored across the islands throughout the year.

    Beyond statewide observances like Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day and Kamehameha Day, each individual island also hosts numerous local events and competitions that showcase long-held customs.

    So if you’re planning a future trip to Hawaii, be sure to research what special events might be happening during your travel dates. Experiencing first-hand these vibrant celebrations and time-honored rituals is an excellent way to gain insight into Hawaii’s rich heritage and the aloha spirit of its welcoming residents.

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