Thousands are expected to gather when the 32nd annual Honolulu City Lights go bright on Saturday, Dec. 3.
The opening night festivities kick off a month-long celebration of family-friendly activities and displays on the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center Grounds.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will lead the official tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., featuring Billy V as emcee and a special performance by the Kamehameha Elementary School Children’s Choir, conducted by Lynell Bright.
University of Hawaii head football coach Nick Rolovich, joined by students from Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School, will ceremoniously illuminate the city’s 55-foot tree at 6:30 p.m., triggering the corridor of lights and displays down King and Punchbowl streets.
One of the many highlights of the evening is the Public Workers’ Electric Light Parade, which celebrates its 26th year as part of Honolulu City Lights. Festive city vehicles and school marching bands will travel from Chinatown through King Street, led by the dancing “City Lights,” the event’s crowd-favorite mascot which debuted last year. Shannon Scott and Olena Heu return as parade hosts.
The opening night also includes a free, star-studded holiday concert near the Sky Gate with musical entertainment by Hālau Hula Olana, Blayne Asing, Mailani Makainai, and Sean Na‘auao. Themed displays and lights will adorn the grounds surrounding Honolulu Hale, and the courtyard will be unveiled, featuring the beautiful city trees and community wreath exhibits.
Twenty-four Christmas trees were decorated by 24 city departments, featuring fire trucks, police cars, even Disney’s Finding Nemo and Moana, all conveying a special message.
“(The theme is) ‘The Greatest Gift of All,’ and these 24 departments got together about four months ago to think about what that theme means to them,” said Yvette Lee, tree exhibit coordinator. “So we have themes that touch on family, children, unity, our freedom, and life.”
The public is encouraged to come early to take advantage of the free parking in the city’s municipal lot, with entry from the left lane of Beretania Street just past Alapai Street.
Food, beverages, and other novelty items will be sold on the grounds throughout the evening. The Friends of Honolulu City Lights will be selling the event’s 2016 holiday T-shirt, as well as this year’s Christmas ornament, which honors the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration. Sales of these collectible items go toward ensuring that Honolulu City Lights remains free to the public.
The opening night festivities, including the tree lighting ceremony, parade, and concert, will be cablecast live on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 6-10 p.m., on Olelo Channel 49.
The celebration continues throughout the month of December featuring several special events. Honolulu City Lights will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and will run through Jan.1, 2017, including the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Key event sponsors include First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaiian Electric Company, Macy’s, DTL, Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, and Cutter Ford.
Opening night schedule for Saturday, Dec. 3:
4 p.m. Food booths and keiki rides open.
6 p.m. Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s tree lighting ceremony begins on the steps of Honolulu Hale.
The Public Workers’ Electric Light Parade departs ‘A‘ala Park and proceeds down King Street to Honolulu Hale.
6:30 p.m. University of Hawai‘i head football coach Nick Rolovich and students from Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School will light the city’s holiday tree, simultaneously illuminating the downtown Honolulu corridor.
The Honolulu Hale Courtyard will be opened, unveiling the beautifully-decorated Christmas trees display, all created by city employees, and the public wreath contest exhibit featuring talented local artisans, presented in the Lane Gallery.
The Public Workers’ Electric Light Parade will reach Honolulu Hale after traveling through Chinatown and downtown.
Santa will visit with children in the Mission Memorial Auditorium, with picture taking provided by Hawaiian Telcom.
7:30 p.m. Holiday concert gets underway near the Sky Gate, presented by Tom Moffat Productions and Summit Media.
All floats and decorated city vehicles will be parked between Honolulu Hale and Alapa‘i/South streets, allowing keiki and families to enjoy the floats up close and meet the city workers until 8:30 p.m.
11 p.m. Courtyard closes.
Honolulu City Lights special events schedule
Friday, Dec. 9: 7 to 9 p.m. DTL Free Photo with Santa Night, Honolulu Hale Courtyard.
Friday, Dec. 16: 7 to 9 p.m. Kraft Heinz Free Photo with Santa Night, Honolulu Hale Courtyard.
Saturday, Dec. 17: 7 to 9 p.m. 7-Eleven Hawaii Free Family Movie Night, on the Civic Center grounds.
Sunday, Dec. 18: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Performance by Hula Hui O Kapunahala O Nuʻuanu YMCA, front of Honolulu Hale.
Friday, Dec. 23: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Hawaiian Values Snack Company’s Free Milk and Cookies Night, near front steps of Honolulu Hale.
7 to 9 p.m. Kraft Heinz Free Photo with Santa Night, Honolulu Hale Courtyard.