With 2016 in the home stretch, we're about to enter the Holiday Season. At the end of the upcoming season and year is what is one of Hawaii's biggest celebrations all year. When the hands of the clock tick down the final moments of 2016, Hawaii, known as the “rainbow state” will bid a fond aloha to the year past and boldly welcome the New Year with a magnificent “rainbow” of explosions across the warm night sky. As one of the last time zones to ring in the New Year, Hawaii does so in grand style, and we don’t do it quietly.
Home to an ethnically and culturally diverse population, the people of the islands share a unique blend of New Year’s traditions in which the widespread use of fireworks plays a mighty big role. New Year’s Eve in Hawaii consists of glorious weather, breathtaking scenery, and lively galas with music, fabulous food and hula.
Ancient Hawaiian New Year Festivities
The Hawaiian New Year festival, known as the Makahiki season, honors the god Lono. The Makahiki holiday covers four consecutive lunar months, approximately from late October or early November through February or March. Makahiki celebrates the bounty the gifts of nature and the bounty of the land.
During ancient times, many religious ceremonies and blessing occurred during this period. Warfare was forbidden, and the people brought gifts and offerings to the chief or ali’I. Feasting on “pork, poi” and pineapple”, the people danced, played music, engaged in sports, and talked story in a ritual inscribed to renew communal bonds and to assure that there were no unresolved conflicts to adversely affect the new crops.
Ahi tuna, found on the dinner plates of many Hawaiians on New Year’s Eve, is a pricy local delicacy with the prized translucent red fish commanding higher prices than ever before. Once plentiful, ahi tuna is now in short supply as fishermen fail to come back with the #1-grade ahi. The tradition of eating sashimi December 31 originates within the local Japanese culture, with the fish representing health and prosperity for the coming year.
Fried, baked, broiled, blackened, or raw, ahi tuna is a New Year’s favorite. HawaiiSeafood.org reports, “Smaller fish are usually caught around fish aggregation buoys and over seamounts. The large fish (over 100 pounds) are usually caught in deep open ocean waters. They are preferred for their typically higher fat content and greater yields. All Hawaii ahi tuna is sold fresh.”
Residents describe the traditions of the islands, commenting, “One of Hawaii’s most entrenched traditions is the consumption of massive amounts of tuna (preferably ahi) sashimi for New Year's Day. Every year around this time, prices for top-grade ahi doubles or triples - rising in some years to as high as $50 a pound for highly marbled ahi toro. Everyone in Hawai`i, it seems, certainty not just Japanese-Americans, believes that a big pile of ahi sashimi along with their fireworks is "no ka oi." One of the most interesting parts of this ritual is the annual "ahi price monitor", where the local papers start to report with minuscule accuracy the cost of various cuts.”
Another tradition dating back to 15th century Japan is the ritual of sipping a bowl of ozoni soup enriched with kamaboko or fish cake and served with mochi or rice cakes. The round shape and glutinous texture of the kamaboko and mocha represent cohesiveness and harmony.
The practice of setting off fireworks at midnight brought to the Pacific Ocean Islands by Chinese immigrants is meant to ward off evil spirits and usher in good luck for the New Year. In the evening hours before midnight, celebrants light up thousands of explosives, creating an incredible amount of noise and billowing clouds of smoke. In Honolulu, dawn finds the streets ankle deep in firework’s curled paper wrappings.
In 2000, the Hawaii State legislature, in an attempt to curb enthusiasm for the noisemakers, enacted a law requiring a $25 permit to purchase 5,000 firecrackers. However, the lawmakers failed to limit the number of permits any one person can purchase, so many folks just buy several.
Fun - Aloha, 2016!
Best Places To Watch Hawaii New Year's Eve Fireworks Shows
No matter if you are on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Kauai, or Lanai, there is no more magical place to welcome in the New Year than in the Hawaiian Islands.
Imagine spending the day surfing, snorkeling with the sea turtles, strolling barefoot on the sugary sands, chilling at a beach bar with an icy cold beer, or just watching the waves break against the shore. Then, because its New Year's Eve in Hawaii, spend the remainder of the day and evening celebrating with the locals, enjoying mouth-watering foods, watching the fireworks, dancing and partying until the golden sun lights up the eastern sky: life just doesn’t get any sweeter than this.
Look for the firing of a stellar fireworks display and light show on December 29th. Fired from a barge anchored offshore of the Trump Tower Waikiki, the festivities commence at 8:30 PM
On New Year’s Eve the exuberant celebrations kick-off at 10:00 PM with an impressive firing from a barge fronting 4559 Kahala Avenue. The show can be viewed from several public beach locations where locals gather for a night of family BBQs, music, and dancing
Waikiki New Year’s Fireworks - An Extraordinary Event
Voted the #1 New Years Eve party in Hawaii, the Waikiki New Year’s Fireworks, held at Kakaako Waterfront Park and visible from the entire Waikiki beachfront, kicks off at 6 PM. In a spirit of Lokahi or unity, more than 120,000 visitors and kamaaina all come together in joyous celebration to welcome the new year.
Enjoy an exciting line-up of the islands top bands and local musicians, thrilling carnival rides, a beer garden, fire dancers, more than 50 food vendors, and a breath-taking fireworks display at the midnight hour. Get ready to be amazed: more than 1,800 shells will be fired during the show.
Additional local displays include midnight firings at Ko Olina Resort, at 1101-1367 Sand Island Parkway and the Kahala Hotel and Resort. On the eastern side of Diamond Head, the annual midnight display presented by at Kahala Hotel and Resort is magnificent. If you are not staying at the oceanfront resort, you can still enjoy the 2016 sendoff from nearby Wailupe or Waialae Beach Parks.
Celebrations at the Aloha Tower Market Place begin at 7 PM and continue until 2 AM. Multiple stages with feature local bands, dancing and more culminating in a spectacular firework show at midnight.
To avoid the crowd and have a quiet celebration, take a sail or book a dinner cruise to watch the Waikiki skies erupt in brilliant splendor. For many residents, a dinner cruise to watch the show is an annual event. The Star of Honolulu cruise line offers a mouth-watering fresh seafood buffet, music, and dancing under the stars. At the midnight hour, guests are offered a perfect view of the pyrotechnics at Aloha Tower.
Wet ‘N’ Wild New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Family Celebration features 25 waterpark rides. On New Year’s Eve, you can sun, swim or dance to live music while enjoying local food favorites. The evening comes to a memorable conclusion with a dazzling fireworks display. The waterpark is an ideal family destination.
If you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the Valley Isle, you will find dozens of delightful ways to bring in the New Year on Maui and also across the channel on Lanai. The majority of celebrations are local in nature with firework displays fired off up and down the beach. One of the best places to view the dramatic light shows is from the deck on a catamaran or sailboat dinner cruise offshore.
Some of the best spots for the Grand Wailea Resort's annual fireworks are along Wailea Beach Park, or from hotels along the beach. If you're staying in Wailea, wander the Wailea Coastal Walk to Wailea Beach. The official show starts at midnight, but impressive displays light the night skies from dark to dawn.
The fireworks display presented at Poipu Beach by the Poipu Beach Resort Association is the highlight of the Garden Isle’s New Year. Visitors and residents alike fill Poipu Beach with lawn chairs and blankets as they enjoy the live entertainments, food, and a jaw-dropping display of fireworks.
Hawaii – The Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island offers fantastic celebrations to greet the New Year with resorts and restaurants offering unique dining and New Year’s Eve events. For locals and visitors alike, the best show in town is often the light show put on by Madame Pele when Kīlauea bellows and blows.