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Think you’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas when the average Dec. low is 67? Credit: Akira Kumagai.

By Amy Drew Thompson


Every year in Hawaii, the arrival of the “Christmas Tree Ship” – a freighter carrying the first load of yuletide trees to the islands – marks the unofficial start of the holiday season. And while some people prefer staying home for the holidays, merry travelers ensconced in Honolulu hotels seem to get into the spirit just fine.

Guests at the Royal Hawaiian, in fact, are invited to a Gingerbread House Decorating Party on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 23. For $50/house, create a festive treat while enjoying the many spoils of this premier property. Additionally, guests have access to free shuttles to what’s been the city’s largest holiday spectacle for nearly three decades:

Honolulu City Lights, at Honolulu Hale, turns night to day in downtown every holiday season. On now through Jan. 1, its starry centerpiece is a towering 50-foot Norfolk pine, and periphery delights include giant holiday characters, photo-ops with Santa, free movie night (this year’s selection is “The Wizard of Oz”) and free milk-and-cookies night. And Honolulu Hale is an architectural attraction in and of itself. Built in 1928, and modeled on a 13th-century Italian palace, it provides an all necessary fairy-tale atmosphere. With the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk as a home base, a cavalcade of dining and entertainment options await upon return from this festive fete at City Hall.

Hotel Renew, an eco-friendly boutique property, sits less than a block from one of the city’s best swimming strands and a half-mile from the Waikiki Aquarium, and so may attract guests with predilection for the maritime. If so, the “Festival of Lights” Christmas Boat Parade might be in order. Head to the Hawaii Kai Marina on Saturday, Dec. 17 (5:30-8 p.m.) and join the locals to watch beautifully decorated boats parade amid the waterways. Captains go all out, showcasing elaborate themes as they vie for the judges’ attentions. Parking and live on-site entertainment are free.

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Freelance travel writer and former PLAYGIRL editor Amy Drew Thompson will go sarong over ski hat any day of the year, Christmas included.

Tagged: Hawaii

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