Parade and Fireworks in Waikiki Sunday evening!

Pyrotechnic display will highlight the Honolulu Festival’s Waikiki parade


The 17th Annual Honolulu Festival parade will travel through Waikiki via Kalakaua Avenue on Sunday, the last day of the festival. —Courtesy photo

For the past 16 years, the Honolulu Festival has concluded with a grand multicultural parade down Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue. But come Sunday evening, the end of the festival will be punctuated with what promises to be a tremendous visual coda.

A version of the renowned Nagaoka fireworks display from Japan’s Niigata prefecture will cap off the annual event, which stresses harmonious ties between the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim region.

Teruko Yoshida, the festival’s public relations coordinator, says bringing the Japanese fireworks to the festival has been a three-year effort, affected by an initial ban on such explosives imposed immediately after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“But it’s meant not to be just a fireworks show,” she said. “The city wants to stress that this is about world peace.”

The 15-minute “Fireworks for World Peace” display off Waikiki Beach — scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. — is also a memorial service for those in Nagaoka and Pearl Harbor who died at the start and during World War II. A special music soundtrack accompanying the display will be broadcast on Hawaiian 105 KINE.


Where: Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana CenterStage, Waikiki Beach Walk, Waikiki Shopping Plaza and DFS Galleria Waikiki

When: 1 to 4 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Free

Info: 833-3378 or


» 1 to 4 p.m. today, Hawai’i Convention Center: Sugaren and International Rainbow Project “Trancendance” yosakoi dance performance and workshop

» Festival performances are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana CenterStage, Waikiki Beach Walk, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, and DFS Galleria Waikiki. Featured performers include hula halau from all over Japan, the Alaska Native Heritage Center Dancers, members of the Descendance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance Theatre, Chinagu Eisa Hawaii, Dance Junction Hawaii, the Freeman KCC Kokorokara Dance Group and the Habibi Hawaii Ensemble.

» Craft fair, ennichi corner and anime corner at the Hawai’i Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

» Starting between 10 a.m. and noon tomorrow at the Hawai’i Convention Center: Hawaii Music Festivals competitions in choral, band and cheer-and-dance

» 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Hawai’i Convention Center: World War II movie screenings: “Letters from Iwo Jima” (11 a.m.) and “Flags of Our Fathers” (2 p.m.)

» 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Hawai’i Convention Center: Bon dance workshop

» 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Hawai’i Convention Center: Friendship Gala ($85 tickets available online at

» 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Grand parade down Kalakaua Avenue

» 8:30 p.m. Sunday: Fireworks display off Waikiki Beach

For a complete festival schedule, go to
The fireworks show, a special abbreviated version of “Tenchijin Hanabi,” celebrates the life of Naoe Kanetsugu, a famous 16th-century samurai from Echigo province in Nagaoka.

The war dead will also be honored in a movie double-bill screening starting at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the 310 Theatre of the Hawai’i Convention Center, with the Clint Eastwood-directed dramas “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Flags of Our Fathers.”

However, the Honolulu Festival is primarily about recognizing the positive relationship between the islands and Pacific Rim countries.

Besides more than 4,000 invited celebrants from Hawaii, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia, there will also be first-time participants from New Zealand, Canada and South Korea at the festival this time around.

These include the all-female Ura Tabu Pacific Dance troupe from Auckland, N.Z.; the percussion ensemble Global Drums – Pangea from Alberta, Canada; and the Assess cheerleading team from Inha University in Korea.

“The festival gives both local people and visitors a great opportunity to learn about a variety of cultures,” publicist Noreen Kam said.

JAPAN continues to be the dominant country’s culture featured at the Honolulu Festival. Learn to do the popular and energetic yosakoi matsuri dance at a performance and workshop led by the Sugaren and International Rainbow Children Project “Trancendance,” plus there will be a bon dance workshop at the convention center at 2 p.m. tomorrow, with a special festival happi coat to be given away to the first 100 participants.

And expect a large gathering of sanshin players to be part of Sunday’s grand parade, assembled with the help of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association.

The traditional string instrument is enjoying a bit of a renaissance back in Japan and Okinawa, according to Grant Murata, president of the local Ryukyu Koten Afuso-Ryu Ongaku Kenkyu Choichi Kai.

“I’ve played the sanshin for close to 40 years, and it’s an exciting thing to see that it’s become this worldwide phenomenon,” Murata said.

“The parade’s grand marshal will be sanshin master Choichi Terukina, a National Living Treasure of Japan. … We were hoping that, with our local participants and visiting guests, we would get close to a thousand players, because 1,000 is a good number that shows unity and cohesiveness, but I think the realistic number will be closer to 200, plus we’ll be incorporating some taiko drummers and dancers to fill out the group.”

Back at the convention center, there will be choral, band and cheer-and-dance competitions tomorrow, and at the popular ennichi corner for children, Hello Kitty will make an appearance both Saturday and Sunday every hour starting at 11 a.m.

The only ticketed event at the Honolulu Festival is a Friendship Gala that highlights cultural entertainment and regional cuisine featuring the work of 10 chefs, including celebrity Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto Waikiki.

Hoku Zuttermeister and Japanese ukulele player Dai Hirai will be among the showcased acts at the gala tomorrow, priced at $85 ($35 tax deductible) and taking place in the convention center’s Kamehameha Exhibit Hall.

—Gary Chun /