How to Celebrate King Kamehameha Day on Oahu

Quick, say this person's name fast: Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea. Do you know who that is? You may better recognize him as King Kamehameha I or Kamehameha the Great. This royal was the first king of the Kingdom of Hawaii — long before the islands were illegally overthrown by Americans to become the state of Hawaii — and continues to be revered to this day. You can even find a statue venerating him outside of Aliʻiōlani Hale, the site of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court. On June 11th, Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), kamaʻāina (Hawaii residents), and tourists alike gather to pay tribute to this icon of Hawaiian history.


Why Does Hawaii Celebrate King Kamehameha Day?

King Kamehameha Day is a cherished holiday in Oahu, Hawaii, honoring the legendary warrior who unified the Hawaiian Islands (other than the island of Kauai, whose people resisted King Kamehameha for years).

His grandson, Kamehameha V, created the holiday, which was first observed in 1872. "Kamehameha Day was one of the first holidays adopted by Hawaiʻi when it achieved statehood in 1959," explains the historians at Kamehameha Schools.

Today, this vibrant day is filled with cultural festivities, including Hawaiian floral parades, traditional Hawaiian music, authentic hula performances, and the adorning of Kamehameha's various statues with beautiful leis (flower garland). It's a time for locals and visitors to come together and celebrate the rich history and cultural heritage of Hawaii, experiencing the spirit of aloha in one of its most colorful and joyous forms. 

"Although the way the event is celebrated has changed, the honor remains the same," adds Kamehameha Schools. "On June 11, Hawaiʻi once again lifts up Kamehameha I in great reverence for his tireless work as a noble leader."


Celebrate King Kamehameha Day in Oahu: Key Events and Details

Whether you're strolling through the lively streets of Waikiki — there are many festivities taking place just steps from the centrally located Waikiki Resort Hotel — or partaking in a traditional ceremony, King Kamehameha Day offers a unique glimpse into the heart of Hawaiian pride and traditions.

This year, June 11th brings numerous ways to take part. The following guide is listed from early June through actual King Kamehameha Day so you can plan your Waikiki vacation around these big celebrations.


King Kamehameha Statue Lei Draping

  • Where: Aliʻiōlani Hale (417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813 — a short 15-minute drive or 20-minute Biki bike ride away from the Waikiki Resort Hotel)
  • When: June 7, 2024, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • What: It's an afternoon of Native Hawaiian pageantry and ancient cultural practices, culminating in ornate flower lei being draped over the hands of the King Kamehameha statue (this year, there will be a 30-foot plumeria lei!). You'll also be serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band and other entertainment. to see cultural protocols and pageantry, along with beautiful hand-made lei being draped on the outstretched arms of King Kamehameha.


107th King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade

  • Where: The eye-popping parade starts at ʻIolani Palace and meanders through Waikiki to Kapiʻolani Park (3840 Paki Avenue, just steps from the Waikiki Resort Hotel)
  • When: June 8, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • What: This is a must-see for everyone, culminating in a celebration in the park where you can take part in Native Hawaiian cultural crafts, enjoy live entertainment and hula, shop for souvenirs and authentic Hawaii-made gifts and products, and dine on some of the best local food in Honolulu.


Ali‘i Sunday: Kamehameha ‘Ekahi (King Kamehameha) With Full Regalia

  • Where: Kawaiahaʻo Church (957 Punchbowl Street), a U.S. National Historic Landmark and once the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom
  • When: June 9, 2024, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • What: Ali‘i Sundays (ali‘i are the Hawaiian royalty) have been carried out by this church, which was also the chapel for the Hawaiian royal family, since the early 1900s. This special service, including full regalia (traditional clothes), celebrates King Kamehameha — even if you aren't religious, it's a historic moment since there are only a handful of these special Sundays each year.


All of the biggest King Kamehameha Day celebrations in Oahu take place just minutes from the conveniently located Waikiki Resort Hotel, and you can beat the thousands of people who attend the main ceremonies at ʻIolani Palace, Kapi‘olani Park,  and Aliʻiōlani Hale when you stay with us. Book your stay at the Waikiki Resort Hotel online or call us at 1-800-367-5116 to see why our location, friendly staff, convenience, and amenities give us top ratings among our guests.