Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival – A Lighting Spectacle You Need to See

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Welcome to a world where the gentle waves of the Pacific Ocean meet the soft glow of thousands of lanterns – this is the Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival.

 

hawaii lantern floating main
Festival highlights

Held at the picturesque Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, this festival is a breathtaking fusion of tradition and glowing lights, creating an atmosphere of peace and remembrance. 

Every year, as the sun sets on Memorial Day, the beach transforms into a mesmerizing canvas of lights, floating lanterns, and cultural richness. Join us as we delve into the heart of this magical festival, a place where each lantern tells a story and the night sky sparkles with twinkling lights.

About the Hawaii Floating Lantern Festival

The Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival, officially known as Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii, stands as a beacon of tranquility and remembrance. Set on the solemn occasion of Memorial Day, this festival is a heartfelt tribute to those who have departed. It’s a unique event that brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds to honor memories and celebrate life.

The festival commences with the traditional blowing of the Hawaiian conch shell, symbolizing the start of a sacred and communal journey. This is followed by an array of musical performances that echo the spirit of the island. Among these, the powerful beats of taiko drums and the graceful Ka Lei Moana Hula performance stand out, setting a tone of reverence and unity.

As the evening unfolds, the main highlight of the festival begins with the release of lanterns into the Hawaiian waters. Each lantern, written with messages for the dearly departed, floats away, carrying hopes, prayers, and memories. This poignant act serves as a symbol of remembrance and kindness, illuminating the water with a gentle glow of love and peace.

Festival Dates

The Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival is an annual event that marks its presence on the Hawaiian calendar with a consistent and meaningful date. Every year, the festival is celebrated on May 27th, creating a rhythm of remembrance and celebration that resonates with many. This specific day is chosen for its significance, aligning with Memorial Day, a time for honoring and remembering the departed.

May 27th becomes more than just a date; it transforms into a day of unity, reflection, and light under the Hawaiian sky. As the day unfolds, the anticipation and excitement among locals and visitors alike grow, culminating in an evening of spectacular beauty and emotional depth. The festival’s steadfast occurrence on this date makes it a beacon for those seeking to connect with tradition and community spirit.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival is held at the picturesque Ala Moana Beach Park, a prime location in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. This idyllic setting, known for its stunning beach and peaceful ambience, offers a perfect backdrop for the festival’s activities, which are centered around reflection and community. Nestled in the heart of Honolulu, the park becomes a hub for both local residents and international visitors, creating a unique blend of cultures and traditions during the festival.

Situated just 8 miles from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the park’s location makes it highly accessible for those traveling to the festival. The journey from the airport to Ala Moana Beach Park is not only convenient but also an opportunity to experience the charm of Honolulu.

Visitors can choose from several transportation options to reach the festival:

  • Taxi or Rideshare: Fast and direct travel to the park.
  • Public Bus (TheBus): An economical and scenic choice with routes close to the festival.
  • Car Rental: Ideal for visitors wanting flexibility and exploration.
  • Shuttle Services: Often provided by hotels or travel agencies for their guests.
  • Biking: A green and adventurous method for those up for it.
  • Walking: A viable option for those staying in nearby hotels or accommodations.

If you liked this festival, you might want to check out these other captivating lights festivals as well:

Parrtjima Light Festival

Loy Krathong Festival of Lights

Festival Hours

The ceremonial aspect of the festival is a spectacle of cultural performances and poignant moments, scheduled between 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM. This is the time when the park resonates with the sounds of taiko drums and the beauty of traditional Hawaiian dances, creating an atmosphere of reverence and celebration. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to experience the full spectrum of performances and to find a comfortable spot for the evening’s main event.

As the sky transitions into twilight, the festival’s most awaited moment arrives with the releasing of the lanterns onto the water, a practice that takes place shortly after sunset. This act of floating lanterns is not just visually stunning but also symbolically powerful, representing a journey of remembrance and hope. The sight of lanterns gently drifting on the Pacific waters against the backdrop of a Hawaiian sunset creates an unforgettable and deeply moving experience for all attendees.

hawaii floating lantern 1
An image inspired by the Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival

How Much Does It Cost to See the Hawaii Floating Lantern Festival

Experiencing the enchantment of the festival comes at no cost, allowing everyone to partake in this serene event free of charge. The open-access nature of the festival ensures that all visitors, regardless of budget, can immerse themselves in the beauty and solemnity of the occasion. It’s an opportunity for guests from all corners of the world to gather and share in a universal message of peace and remembrance.

For those wishing to actively participate in the lantern release, lanterns are provided free of cost. These are available at a designated tent within the park from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, or until supplies last. It’s advisable to arrive early to secure a lantern, as they are a popular and integral part of the festival experience, symbolizing the light of memory and hope as they float away into the Hawaiian sunset.

Weather and What to Wear

During the festival date in Honolulu, Hawaii, the weather typically showcases the island’s beautiful tropical climate. Visitors can expect warm and pleasant temperatures, usually ranging between 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C). This period in late May is characterized by longer daylight hours and a gentle ocean breeze in the evenings, creating an ideal setting for outdoor events like the festival.

Recommended clothing for visitors to comfortably enjoy the festival includes:

  • Light, Breathable Fabrics: Ideal for the warm daytime temperatures.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Sandals or walking shoes for beach and park terrain.
  • A Light Jacket or Sweater: For cooler breezes in the evening.
  • Sun Protection: Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against daytime sun exposure.
  • Casual Beachwear: Embracing the laid-back Hawaiian style.
  • A Small Bag or Backpack: For essentials, keeping hands free for festival activities.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

Finding the perfect place to stay is crucial for a complete festival experience, and there are several hotels nearby catering to a range of preferences and needs.

Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki Hotel

  • Location: Nestled in the heart of Waikiki, just minutes from the beach.
  • Description: A vibrant, 3-star hotel known for its relaxed atmosphere and modern amenities.
  • Amenities:
    • Outdoor pool for a refreshing swim.
    • Kid-friendly environment, perfect for families.
    • On-site dining options and close proximity to local eateries.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

  • Location: Situated on the widest stretch of beach in Waikiki.
  • Description: A luxurious 4-star resort offering an expansive property filled with lush tropical gardens.
  • Amenities:
    • Several outdoor pools, including a lagoon-style pool.
    • A well-equipped fitness center.
    • A variety of on-site dining experiences and cultural activities.

Park Shore Waikiki Hotel

  • Location: Ideally situated at the eastern end of Waikiki, right across from the iconic Waikiki Beach.
  • Description: Park Shore Waikiki is a 3-star hotel that offers a blend of comfort, convenience, and breathtaking ocean views. Its prime location not only provides easy beach access but also places guests within walking distance of many of Waikiki’s attractions, including the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
  • Amenities:
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, ensuring guests stay connected with the world while enjoying their Hawaiian escape.
    • An outdoor swimming pool with a sun deck, offering a refreshing retreat with stunning views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.
    • On-site dining options, including local cuisine and refreshing cocktails, cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Where to Eat

After exploring the lights and sights of the festival, indulge in some of Honolulu’s finest eateries, each offering a unique dining experience to satisfy your culinary cravings.

Sam’s Kitchen

  • Location: Conveniently situated near the beachfront.
  • Description: A popular seafood restaurant known for its relaxed ambiance and outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying the Hawaiian weather.
  • Cuisine: Specializes in fresh seafood dishes, including delicious tuna sandwiches and succulent steaks, along with a variety of other mouth-watering options.

Merriman’s Honolulu

  • Location: In the heart of Honolulu, easily accessible from the festival.
  • Description: A lively, spacious, and stylish eatery that becomes more enchanting with live music, creating a memorable dining atmosphere.
  • Cuisine: Offers a fusion of flavors with dishes like Mediterranean salad, delectable fish sandwiches, and a range of other sophisticated choices.

Moku Kitchen

  • Location: Located in a bustling area of Honolulu, close to major attractions.
  • Description: A New American restaurant that stands out for its cool and creative vibe, enhanced by live music, making it a go-to spot for both locals and tourists.
  • Cuisine: Serves modern American fare with a twist, accompanied by an impressive selection of cocktails and beverages, catering to a wide range of tastes.

More Things to Do in the Area

Beyond the mesmerizing lights of the festival, Honolulu offers an array of exciting attractions and activities to enhance your visit.

Ala Moana Center

  • Location: Just a stone’s throw from Ala Moana Beach Park.
  • Description: Known as the world’s largest open-air shopping center, Ala Moana Center is a paradise for shoppers and foodies.
  • Activities: Offers a vast selection of retail stores, from high-end boutiques to local shops, alongside diverse dining options and regular live entertainment.

Waikiki

  • Location: A short drive from the festival location.
  • Description: Waikiki is famed for its iconic beach, bustling streets, and vibrant nightlife, making it a must-visit destination in Honolulu.
  • Activities: Enjoy surfing or relaxing on the beach, explore world-class restaurants and shops, or experience the energetic nightlife and cultural performances.

Manoa Falls

  • Location: Nestled in the lush Manoa Valley, a short distance from downtown Honolulu.
  • Description: Manoa Falls is a breathtaking 150-foot waterfall, accessible through a scenic hiking trail surrounded by a tropical rainforest.
  • Activities: The hike to the falls offers a refreshing escape into nature, with opportunities to see various native plants and birds, culminating in the stunning view of the waterfall.

An Illuminating Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival

As the lanterns gently float away on the waters of Ala Moana Beach Park, they leave behind a trail of light and memories, embodying the spirit of the Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival. This event is not just a celebration of lights; it’s a profound expression of remembrance, unity, and hope that brings together people from all walks of life. 

In the heart of Honolulu, amidst the soft strumming of Hawaiian music and the rhythmic dance of the ocean, the festival stands as a beacon of peace and reflection. It’s an experience that transcends the visual spectacle, touching hearts and souls, and leaving an indelible mark on all who partake in its serene beauty.

hawaii floating lantern 2
An image inspired from the Hawaii Lantern Floating Festival

FAQ

Is there parking available at the festival?

Yes, there is limited parking available near Ala Moana Beach Park. It’s recommended to arrive early or use public transportation due to high attendance.

Can I smoke at the festival?

Smoking is not permitted within the park grounds to ensure a comfortable and healthy environment for all attendees.

Are pets allowed at the festival?

Pets are not allowed, with the exception of service animals, to ensure the safety and comfort of all festival-goers.

Can I bring my own food and drinks?

Yes, you are welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages. However, glass containers and alcohol are not permitted.

Are there restroom facilities available?

Yes, there are ample restroom facilities throughout the park for public use.

Is the festival accessible for people with disabilities?

Absolutely, the festival and Ala Moana Beach Park are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including accessible restroom facilities.

Can I participate in the lantern release?

Yes, lanterns are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis at a designated tent. Participants are encouraged to arrive early to secure a lantern.

What should I do in case of an emergency?

In case of an emergency, locate the nearest festival staff member or security personnel. There are also designated first-aid stations within the park.

Sources:

https://lanternfloatinghawaii.com

https://www.waikikiresort.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-shinnyu-lantern-floating-hawai-i-ceremony

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