Please note that as with any schedule of upcoming events, the following information is subject to change; always confirm the details before you plan your trip around an event.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
PGA Championship, Kapalua Resort, Maui. Top PGA golfers compete for $1 million. Call tel. 808/669-2440 or go to www.kapaluamaui.com. First weekend in January.
EA Sports Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament, Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina. Top college teams vie in this annual preseason tournament. Call tel. 847/850-1818 or go to www.mauiinvitational.com. Early January.
Chinese New Year, Maui. Lahaina town rolls out the red carpet for this important event with a traditional lion dance at the historic Wo Hing Temple on Front Street, accompanied by fireworks, food booths, and a host of activities. Call tel. 888/310-1117 or 808/667-9175 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. Also on Maui, at the Maui Mall in Kahului; call tel. 808/878-1888. Chinese New Year can fall in January or February; 2012 ushers in the year of the dragon on January 23; in 2013, the year of the snake comes in on February 10.
Kaanapali Champions Skins Game, Kaanapali Golf Courses, Maui. Longtime golfing greats participate in this four-man tournament for $770,000 in prize money. Call tel. 808/661-3271 or go to www.kaanapali-golf.com. Late January or early February.
Whale Day Celebration, Kalama Park, Kihei. A daylong celebration in the park, with a parade of whales, entertainment, a crafts fair, games, and food. Call tel. 808/249-8811 or go to www.visitmaui.com. Early or mid-February.
Ocean Arts Festival, Lahaina. The entire town of Lahaina celebrates the annual migration of Pacific humpback whales with this festival in Banyan Tree Park. Artists display their best ocean-themed art for sale, while Hawaiian musicians and hula troupes entertain. Enjoy marine-related activities, games, and a Creature Feature touch-pool exhibit for children. Call tel. 888/310-1117 or 808/667-9194 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. Mid-March.
Prince Kuhio Day Celebrations. Various festivals are held throughout Hawaii to celebrate the birth of Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, who was born on March 26, 1871, and elected to Congress in 1902. Molokai also hosts a 1-day celebration; call tel. 808/553-3876 or go to www.visitmolokai.com to learn more.
East Maui Taro Festival, Hana, Maui. Taro, a Hawaiian staple food, is celebrated through music, hula, arts, crafts, and, of course, food. Call tel. 808/264-1553 or go to www.tarofestival.org. Varying dates in April.
Buddha Day, Lahaina Jodo Mission, Lahaina, Maui. Each year on the first Saturday in April, this historic mission holds a flower festival pageant honoring the birth of Buddha. The first Saturday in April.
Celebration of the Arts, Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Kapalua Resort, Maui. Contemporary and traditional artists give free hands-on lessons during this 4-day festival, which begins the Thursday before Easter. Call tel. 808/669-6200 or go to www.celebrationofthearts.org. Early April.
Polo Spring Season Begins. For a complete list of all the polo matches in the cool, upcountry area of Maui, call tel. 808/877-7744 or go to www.visitmaui.com.
David Malo Day, Lahainaluna High School, Lahaina. This daylong event, with hula and other Hawaiian cultural celebrations, commemorates Hawaii's famous scholar and ends with a luau. Call tel. 808/662-4000 or go to www.visitmaui.com. Mid- or late April.
Banyan Tree Birthday Party, Lahaina. Come celebrate the birthday of Lahaina's famous Banyan Tree with a weekend of activities. Call tel. 888/310-1117 or 808/667-9175 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. Generally the end of April.
Outrigger Canoe Season, all islands. From May to September, canoe paddlers across the state participate in outrigger canoe races nearly every weekend. Call tel. 808/383-7798 or go to www.y2kanu.com for this year's schedule of events.
Lei Day Celebrations, various locations on all islands. May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii, celebrated with lei-making contests, pageantry, arts and crafts and music. For a list of Maui events go to www.visitmaui.com/maui/calendar, which includes the Lei Day Brothers Cazimero concert at the Castle Theatre (tel. 808/242-7469).
Maui Onion Festival, Whalers Village, Kaanapali, Maui. Everything you ever wanted to know about the sweetest onions in the world. There is food, entertainment, tasting, and the Maui Onion cook-off. Call tel. 808/661-4567 or go to www.whalersvillage.com/onionfestival.htm. Early May.
International Festival of Canoes, West Maui. At this celebration of the Pacific islands' seafaring heritage, events include canoe paddling and sailing regattas, a luau feast, cultural demonstrations, canoe-building exhibits, and music. Call tel. 888/310-1117. Mid- to late May.
Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar Festival, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, Maui. This festival features great music performed by the best musicians in Hawaii. It's 5 hours long and free. Call tel. 808/226-2697 or go to www.slackkeyfestival.com. Late June. Check the website for festivals on the other islands and their dates.
King Kamehameha Celebration, all islands. This state holiday (officially June 11, but celebrated on different dates on each island) features a massive floral parade, hoolaulea (party), and much more. Call tel. 808/667-9194 for Maui events, tel. 808/553-3876 for Molokai events, or go to http://hawaii.gov/dags/king_kamehameha_commission. Most events in 2012 will be held early to mid-June.
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Ritz-Carlton and various locations, Maui. One of Hawaii's best food-and-wine festivals features Hawaii's top chefs as well as international chefs and sommeliers showing off their culinary talents and wines from around the world. The event's 30th year will be 2012. Not to be missed. Call tel. 800/527-2582 or go to www.kapaluamaui.com. Early June.
Maui Film Festival, Wailea Resort, Maui. Five days and nights of screenings of premieres and special films, along with traditional Hawaiian storytelling, chants, hula, and contemporary music. It begins the Wednesday before Father's Day. Call tel. 808/579-9244 or go to www.mauifilmfestival.com. Mid-June.
Fourth of July. Lahaina holds an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration with fireworks lighting the night sky over Lahaina's roadstead. Call tel. 888/310-1117 or 808/667-9194 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. Kaanapali puts on a grand old celebration with live music, children's activities, and fireworks. Call tel. 808/661-3271.
Makawao Parade & Rodeo, Makawao, Maui. The annual parade and rodeo event has been taking place in this upcountry cowboy town for generations. Go to www.visitmaui.com. July 4.
Polo Season, Olinda Polo Field, Makawao. Polo matches featuring Hawaii's top players, often joined by famous international players, are held every Sunday at 1pm throughout the summer. Call tel. 808/877-7744 or go to www.mauipolo.com.
Bon Dance & Lantern Ceremony, Lahaina, Maui. This colorful Buddhist ceremony honors the souls of the dead. Call tel. 808/661-4304. Usually the first Saturday in July.
Hawaii State Windsurfing Championship, Kanaha Beach Park, Kahului, Maui. Top windsurfers compete. Call tel. 808/877-2111 or go to www.surfmaui.com. Late July or early August.
Tahiti Fete, War Memorial Gym, Wailuku, Maui. This is an annual festival with Tahitian dance competition, arts and crafts, and food. Call tel. 808/250-0737 or go to http://tahitifete.blogspot.com.
Admissions Day, all islands. This is a state holiday honoring the day (August 21, 1959) that Hawaii became the 50th state. All state-related facilities are closed. Third Friday in August.
Aloha Festivals, various locations on all islands. Parades and other events celebrate Hawaiian culture and friendliness throughout the state. Call tel. 808/878-1888 or go to www.festivalsofaloha.com.
A Taste of Lahaina, Lahaina Civic Center, Maui. Some 30,000 people show up to sample 40 signature entrees from Maui's premier chefs during this weekend festival, which includes cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and live entertainment. The event begins Friday night with Maui Chefs Present, a dinner/cocktail party featuring about a dozen of Maui's best chefs. Call tel. 808/667-9175 or go to www.visitmaui.com. Second weekend in September.
Hana Relays, Hana Highway. Hundreds of runners, in relay teams, crowd the Hana Highway from Kahului to Hana (you might want to avoid the road on this day). Call tel. 808/243-9636 or go to www.virr.com. Early September.
Maui Marathon, Kahului to Kaanapali. Runners line up at the Maui Mall before daybreak and head off for Kaanapali. Call tel. 866/577-8379 or go to www.virr.com or www.mauimarathonhawaii.com. Mid- to late September.
Maui County Fair, War Memorial Complex, Wailuku, Maui. The oldest county fair in Hawaii features a parade, amusement rides, live entertainment, and exhibits. Call tel. 808/270-7626 or go to www.calendarmaui.com. Last weekend in September.
Aloha Festivals Hoolaulea, Lahaina. This all-day cultural festival, which marks the end of Maui's Aloha Festivals Week, is held at Banyan Tree Park and features Hawaiian food, music, and dance, along with arts and crafts on display and for sale. Call tel. 888/310-1117 or 808/667-9194 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. September or October.
Hawaii International Film Festival, various locations throughout the state. This cinema festival with a cross-cultural spin features filmmakers from Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the United States. Call tel. 808/792-1577 or go to www.hiff.org. Late October or early November.
Na Mele O Maui, Kaanapali, Maui. A traditional Hawaiian song competition for children in kindergarten through 12th grade, held in the ballroom of one of the Kaanapali Resort hotels. Admission is $5 donation. Call tel. 808/661-3271 or go to www.kaanapaliresort.com. First Friday in December.
Hui Noeau Christmas House, Makawao. The festivities in the beautifully decorated Hui mansion include shopping, workshops and art demonstrations, children's activities and visits with Santa, holiday music, fresh-baked goods, and local foods. Call tel. 808/572-6560 or go to www.huinoeau.com. Late November and early December.
Billabong Pro Maui, Honolua Bay at Kapalua Resort, Maui. The final Triple Crown women's surfing contest of the year, bringing together the best of the women's international surfing community. Call tel. 800/527-2582 or go to www.billabongpro.com. Early December.
Festival of Trees, Lahaina Cannery Mall, Lahaina. Look for decorated trees as well as entertainment. Call tel. 808/661-5304. Early December.
Lighting of the Banyan Tree, Lahaina. At 6:30pm, Lahaina's historic Banyan Tree is lit up with thousands of Christmas lights for the entire holiday season. Santa Claus makes an appearance, and choirs sing Christmas carols accompanied by hula. Kids can join a cookie workshop. Call tel. 808/667-9194 or 667-9194 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. Early December.
Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Kapalua Resort. With the flick of a switch, more than 250,000 sparkling lights illuminate a 25-foot holiday tree and dozens of pine and palm trees around the courtyards of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua and throughout the resort. Call tel. 808/669-6200 or go to www.kapaluaresort.com. Early December.
Festival of Lights, all islands. On Maui, marching bands, floats, and Santa roll down Lahaina's Front Street in an annual parade. Molokai celebrates with a host of activities in Kaunakakai. Call tel. 808/667-9175 for Maui and go to www.visitmolokai.com for Molokai. Early December.
Old-Fashioned Holiday Celebration, Lahaina, Maui. This day of Christmas carolers, Santa Claus, live music and entertainment, a crafts fair, holiday baked goods, and activities for children takes place in the Banyan Tree Park on Front Street. Call tel. 888/667-9175 or go to www.visitlahaina.com. First weekend in December.
FirstLight; Academy Screening on Maui, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, Maui. Major films are screened at this festival; past selections have included The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Mystic River, The Aviator, Hotel Rwanda, and many others. Not to be missed. Call tel. 808/579-9244 or 808/242-7469 or go to www.mauifilmfestival.com. Late December and early January.
Ongoing events on Maui
Every Friday night from 7 to 10pm, as part of Friday Night Is Art Night in Lahaina, the town's galleries open their doors for special shows, demonstrations, and refreshments. There are even strolling musicians wandering the streets.
If you're hungry for Hawaiian music, the Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Series (tel. 888/669-3858; www.slackkey.com) features some of the great masters (and some Grammy Award winners) of this guitar style unique to the Hawaiian Islands. Concerts are held every Wednesday night at 7:30pm at the Napili Kai Beach Resort. Tickets are $40; call in advance for reservations.
On the first and third weekends of the month, Hawaiian artists sell and share culture, arts, and crafts under the famous landmark Banyan Tree in Lahaina. On the other weekends, the Lahaina Arts Society holds an exhibit and sale of various works of art in the same place.
Every Wednesday at 5:30 and 7:30pm, the Maui Film Festival (tel. 808/572-3456 or 579-9244; www.mauifilmfestival.com) presents outstanding contemporary and art films at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, 1 Cameron Way (just off Kahului Beach Rd.), in Kahului.
You don't have to spend a good chunk of change and order two drinks to experience the Hawaiian art of hula. There are free hula performances every week. In Lahaina, they take place Saturday and Sunday at 1pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm in the Lahaina Cannery Mall. In Kaanapali, they're held nightly, at 7 and 8pm at the Whalers Village; and every night at 6:30pm at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. If you would like to try the hula yourself, there are free hula lessons at Whalers Village every Thursday from 3 to 4pm.
Maui's produce has long been a source of pride for islanders, check out Farmers' Markets around the island.