Preparations underway for annual Honolulu City Lights celebration

Honolulu Hale

Preparations are nearly complete for Honolulu City Lights’ opening night celebration.

The festivities kick off Saturday at 4 p.m. with a parade at 6 p.m. followed by a tree-lighting ceremony.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.

“Hundreds of thousands of people come and walk through here and celebrate Christmas. Some of them may not be able to afford a Christmas tree or even get presents, but they have (this) gift,” he said.

Sheri Kajiwara, director, Department of Customer Services, offered the following tip: “If you’re here to see our city workers’ electric light parade, it starts at Aala Park. There’s a lot of viewing spaces if you go further toward Aala Park, and then follow the Santa float onto our grounds. You’ll get a much better experience.”

New this year, Ala Moana Center donated its candy cane train, which will be available for keiki to ride on city grounds starting Saturday through the New Year’s holiday.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele settled in their usual spot in front of Honolulu Hale.

The iconic displays were assembled and placed by the fountain on the front lawn of Honolulu’s city hall Tuesday morning in preparation for the big Honolulu City Lights celebration.

This year, they brought drinks and snacks, including “Ono Poi.”

A number of the other large lawn displays traditionally installed on the Diamond Head side of Honolulu Hale also arrived and are being installed.

The parade features work vehicles adorned with lights and special decorations.  Among the 50 or more units expected are fire and police vehicles, TheBus, refuse truck, fire engine, city service vehicles, marching bands, and entries from Honolulu City Lights sponsors.

The parade, held on King Street, steps off at River Street, proceeds past Honolulu Hale, and ends at Kawaiahao Street. Decorated vehicles will park at the end of the parade for public viewing until 8:15 p.m.

After disembarking from his parade vehicle, Santa Claus will greet keiki at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

The opening night includes a free concert at Sky Gate, featuring musical entertainment by performers Kapena, Amy Hānaiali‘i, Kalei Gamiao and Halau Hula ʻO Hokulani, as well as family-friendly activities on the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center grounds.

The Friends of Honolulu City Lights will sell the commemorative 2015 Christmas ornament, along with the annual T-shirt design. The sale of these collectable items is the primary source of fundraising to support this free public event.

Families attending the opening night event should plan to arrive at the Civic Center between 4-5 p.m. to take advantage of the free parking provided in the Civic Center parking structure.

The month-long Honolulu City Lights celebration will feature the traditional display in the Honolulu Hale courtyard of Christmas trees decorated by city employees, as well as the entries submitted for the public wreath contest, presented in the Lane Gallery.

Click here for more information.

honolulu city lights

Opening Night Schedule
Saturday, Dec. 5, 4-11 p.m.

4 p.m. Food Booths open at Sky Gate
Keiki Rides at Sky Gate
6 p.m. Tree Lighting Ceremony at Honolulu Hale
Electric Light Parade begins at Aala Park down King Street
[See Route Map]
6:30 p.m. Lighting of the City Christmas Tree – Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Electric Light Parade arrives at Honolulu Hale
Employee Decorated Tree Exhibit in Courtyard
Santa’s Enchanted Forest Display in Courtyard
Wreath Display in Lane Gallery
7:30 p.m. Holiday Concert at Sky Gate

  • KAPENA (featured headliner)
  • Amy Hanaialii Gilliom
  • Halau Hula O Hokulani
  • Kalei Gamiao
Free Photos with Santa in the Mission Memorial Auditorium
11 p.m. Opening Night Festivities End

santa tutu mele (2)

Traffic advisory and parking

Motorists bound for events in Chinatown and Downtown Honolulu on December 5 are advised to arrive well before 5 p.m. and to plan for traffic delays. Parking will be accessible at:

  • Marks Garage
  • Walmart parking lot
  • Chinatown Gateway
  • Smith-Beretania parking garage
  • Hale Pauahi parking garage

Motorists are advised that street closures and detours for the parade and opening night ceremony will affect traffic in the Chinatown and Downtown areas.

Traffic flow will be detoured or modified on the following streets:

  • Makai-bound traffic on Maunakea Street from Beretania Street will be detoured east-bound to Pauahi Street.
  • Bethel Street will be converted into a two-way street from Hotel Street to the Macy’s parking lot driveway.
  • Traffic on Nuuanu Avenue and Alakea Street will be allowed to cross King Street at selected break points in the parade.
  • Bishop Street will be converted into a two-way street between Beretania Street and the Executive Centre parking lot driveway.

Traffic lanes and streets will be closed on Saturday, December 5 as follows:

  • 11:00 a.m.:  Left lane on King Street from Punchbowl Street to Kawaiahao Street:  Lane closure will be in effect until equipment set up is completed.
  • 1:30 p.m.:  Crowd-control barricades will be placed on both sides of King Street from Richards to Punchbowl streets.  Trucks will be unloading barricades in lanes nearest the sidewalk.
  • 3:00 p.m.:  Crowd-control barricades will be placed on both sides of King Street from Punchbowl to South streets.  Trucks will be unloading barricades in lanes nearest the sidewalk.
  • 3:30 p.m.:  Curb lanes at Aala Park on North King Street between Beretania and River streets, and Iwilei Road from Kuwili Street to King Street, will be closed for parade vehicle staging.
  • 3:30 p.m.:  Curb lanes on Iwilei Road from Kuwili Street to King Street will be closed for parade vehicle staging.
  • 4:30 p.m.:  Punchbowl Street closed between Beretania and King Streets.  Makai-bound traffic will be detoured to Beretania Street.
  • 4:30 p.m.:  Three mauka lanes on South King Street closed from Alapai Street to Ward Avenue.  Two lanes of both sides of South Street closed from Kapiolani Boulevard to Queen Street.
  • 5:00 p.m.:  North King Street closed from Liliha/Dillingham intersection to River Street.  Eastbound traffic on King Street will be detoured to Beretania Street.
  • 5:00 p.m.:  King Street between Punchbowl and Alapai/South Streets will be closed.  Eastbound traffic on King Street will be detoured makai to Punchbowl Street.  The King Street bustop near the corner of Punchbowl Street will be relocated to Punchbowl Street.
  • 5:30 p.m.:  King Street will close progressively along the parade route and reopen progressively after the parade, except for the section of King Street from Punchbowl to the Alapai/South/King Street intersection, which will remain closed until 10 p.m. for street sweeping and crowd control barricade removal.
  • River Street will be closed at Pauahi Street.
  • Bishop Street will be two-way between Beretania Street and the Executive Center parking lot driveway.
  • Makai-bound traffic on Maunakea Street will be detoured to Pauahi Street.
  • Nuuanu Avenue will be open with intermittent traffic flow.
  • Bethel Street will become two-way from Hotel Street and Macy’s parking lot entrance.
  • Richards Street mauka of King Street will be closed at Beretania Street.
  • Kekaulike, Maunakea, and Smith streets makai of King Street will be closed at Nimitz Highway.
  • Bethel Street will be closed at Merchant Street.
  • Mililani Street will be closed at Queen Street.
  • Alakea Street will be open with intermittent traffic flow allowed.

No parking from 1:00 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, December 5, 2015.  Illegally parked cars will be cited and towed.

  • Punchbowl Street, both sides from Beretania Street to King Street
  • Punchbowl Street, Ewa side from King Street to Queen Street
  • King Street, both sides from River Street to Ward Avenue

No parking from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, December 5, 2015.  Illegally parked cars will be cited and towed.

  • Beretania Street, both sides from River Street to North King Street
  • River Street, both sides from North Beretania Street to Hotel Street
  • Bethel Street, both sides from King Street to Pauahi Street.

TheBus routes affected by the parade will be detoured. Please visit www.thebus.org or call 848-5555 for route information.

Additional Events

The Honolulu City Lights celebration continues throughout the month of December, featuring a variety of family-friendly events:

  • Thursday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.: The Royal Hawaiian Band will perform a free concert at Hawaii Theatre
  • Friday, Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m.: Toys for Tots collection drive with the 501st Legion Storm Troopers, near steps in front of Honolulu Hale
  • Saturday, Dec. 12, 6-8 p.m.: Young Brothers’ keiki ornament craft night, under a tent on Civic Center grounds, between Honolulu Hale and the Mission Memorial Building
  • Friday, Dec. 18: 7-9 p.m. Kraft free photo with Santa night, in the courtyard with coffee service
  • Saturday, Dec. 19:
    • 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Hawaiian Values Snack Company’s free milk and cookies night, near steps in front of Honolulu Hale
    • 7-9 p.m.: 7-Eleven’s family movie night on Civic Center grounds
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23, 7-9 p.m.: Kraft free photo with Santa night

Honolulu City Lights will be open daily through New Year’s Day, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, through Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016.

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