What is a Hawaiian celebration without incredible food? Absolutely nothing, we argue. In fact, some of the greatest festivals revolve solely around the food that is so influential to our island cuisine. With access to the freshest produce and seafood around, as well as several innovative chefs who call Hawaii home, the islands’ are full of mouth-watering food. These 12 culinary events celebrate everything from pineapple and taro to Spam and chocolate – and should definitely be marked on your 2016 calendar.
1. Waikiki Spam Jam
Hawaii residents eat more Spam per capita than any other state in America, and it has become such an important part of our culinary history that the canned meat is honored each year at the annual Waikiki Spam Jam. This year’s 14th annual festivities will be held April 29.
2. East Maui Taro Festival
Not only is taro one of Hawaii’s traditional staple foods, but it is used in all sorts of island dishes, and is surely worth celebrating. This event will be held April 30 and May 1, and marks the 24th annual East Maui Taro Festival.
3. Big Island Chocolate Festival
Is there anything more heavenly than an entire festival celebrating chocolate? As the only state in America that grows cacao, chocolate is obviously a big deal in Hawaii. The festival, which will be held May 13 and 14 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, offers everything from tastings to seminars and cacao plantation tours.
4. Ka’u Coffee Festival
Another crop that is integral to Hawaii’s farming industry is the coffee plant – and as a result, it is celebrated across the islands. The annual Ka’u Coffee Festival runs from May 13 to May 22, and features live entertainment, vendors of all kinds, special guest speakers, a coffee recipe contest and the Miss Ka’u Coffee Pageant.
5. Taste of Wailea
Presented in collaboration with the Maui Film Festival and often referred to as the “crown jewel” of the film festival’s culinary celebrations, the Taste of Wailea is a one-day event held at the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course on June 18.
6. Eat The Street
Held on the last Friday of each month, Eat the Street is Honolulu’s regular food truck rally. Each month has a specific theme, like chocolate or noodles, and features more than 40 food vendors and attracts more than 7,000 people for each event.
7. Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
The 35th Annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival will be held June 9 – 12, and is a collaboration of Kapalua Resort partners showcasing the very finest in food and wine, while embracing all things Hawaiian.
8. Lanai Pineapple Festival
This annual event celebrates the island’s unique history with pineapple production, and will be held on July 2 in Dole Park. Recognized as one of USA Today’s “Top 10 Best Specialty Food Festivals” in 2014, the event features a variety of food booths, live crafts, games, activities, exhibitors, and entertainment, culminating with a fireworks show at 9 p.m. There is even a special ferry from Manele back to Lahaina scheduled for 9:30 p.m. for those travelling from Maui for the one-day festival.
9. Hawaii State Farm Fair
This annual event began in 1962 as a way to promote awareness of Hawaiian farming and ranching industries, and has since evolved into a major festival known for its incredible food from various vendors. This year’s fair will be help July 9 + 10 at Kualoa Ranch.
10. Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, which will be held October 14 – 30, is a massive celebration that features more than 100 internationally-renowned chefs, culinary personalities, and alcohol produces, spread across Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The event was co-founded by Hawaiian chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, and showcases wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, unique excursions, and exclusive dining opportunities.
11. 20th Annual Coconut Festival
Presented by the Kapa’a Business Association and held at Kapa’a Beach Park October 1 + 2, Kauai’s 20th Annual Coconut Festival celebrates this Hawaiian staple with unique coconut crafts, games, contests, foods, and live entertainment. A children’s stage, petting zoo and inflatables make it an ideal festival for the keiki.
12. Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
Can you really imagine a better festival than one celebrating perhaps the greatest coffee in the world? Since the festival's inception in 1970, the celebration has strived to preserve and promote Kona’s nearly 200-year heritage with coffee production. The festival is one of the oldest food festivals in Hawaii, and will be held from November 4 – 13 this year.
Have you been to any of these food festivals in Hawaii before? Are there any I missed?