Thursday, December 14, 2023

Lights up on Honolulu's trolley and best holiday lights in the country

Magazine's top city lights
Honolulu is aglow with city lights, and Waikiki Trolley takes holiday revelers to the highlights.

Bruce Keller enjoys a visit with
Frosty the Snowman in Honolulu.




PAGANS REVERED mistletoe. My Norse ancestors thought it protected them from lightning and thunder. Druids believed that fire encouraged the gods to speed spring. So lights and mistletoe have a long history on Earth.
Homo erectus didn't have holiday lights a million years ago, but that's when the first fires
We found this oddly shaped
mistletoe, a parasite, on Oah
were likely 
built, for warmth, cooking and later to ward off wolves and demons, real or imagined. Today, holiday
lights shine in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens and the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Lights shine across the globe
from Tokyo to Rio, Arkansas to Oregon, Virginia to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to London. In Washington, D.C., Phoenix and San Diego, the U.S. is "lit" for the holidays.
Nowhere is the spectacle more appreciated than in Hawaii, where Honolulu's lights take center stage.
One of the stops on Waikiki Trolley visits Santa's
sleigh where this visiting family takes a selfie.

The much loved Waikiki Trolley is aglow with its own lights
as it transports locals and visitors around to city lights

WE MET travelers from Asia, Australia and the mainland on a recent Honolulu tour.  All were enjoying the spectacle via Waikiki Trolley's  Holiday Lights Tour. It's a family oriented, fun tour that takes riders to see the Christmas illuminations in downtown Honolulu. Highlights are the Christmas tree and Christmas decorations at Honolulu Hale --  city hall. Christmas music is played on the trolley, encouraging a happy holiday mood.

  NOT ALL the lights on this page today are part of the Honolulu trolley's tour. We've added a few of our favorite lights photos from other cities. Here's what's in store, if you've booked the Honolulu tour. 
First, while waiting to board the bus -- at the 7 p.m. 8 p.m., or 9 p.m. tour options, we recommend you check out the food trucks nearby. We had a difficult decision deciding between Thai and Mexican and opted for a fabulous meal of several kinds of tacos.
Trees are beautifully lit throughout
the country, here in Washington D.C.
Honolulu's lights are splendid, too.

 It was tasty Mexican street food -- delicious, freshly prepared tacos -- chicken, fish and beef.  Friendly service and tasty fare put us in the holiday spirit and we recommend Tacos de Cacheton for a reasonably priced treat, cooked to order, served with a smile.
While Honolulu's Christmas trees and outdoor displays are surrounded by lights, other cities offer carnival rides, street fairs, seasonal food specialties and hot spiced drinks. In the UK, expect roasted chestnuts. In Colombia, try roasted corn.  

  THE TRADITION of yuletide lights in Honolulu dates to 1987 when a month-long holiday event was named “Honolulu City Lights.” The City Holiday tree was originally decorated with strings of colored lights and a traffic signal control box was used to change the colors. The trolley became a natural part of the fun, with its cheerful clang, and decorations to attract passengers and spread cheer.

Rockefeller Center's lavish display in New York
is one of the city's most visited holiday exhibits.

    It took years for the holiday light tradition to cross the Pacific. On the mainland, it began in Menlo Park, New Jersey, when Edward H. Johnson assembled the first string of electric Christmas tree lights together in 1882. Johnson was a friend of inventor Thomas Edison in Edison's Illumination Company. He hand-wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs and wound them around his Christmas tree. He gilded the lily, creating a revolving mechanism so the tree was both illuminated and moving. 
Tacos de Cacheton on Ala Moana Blvd.,
offers delicious fare for before or after
enjoying a city lights trolley tour.

So get in the holiday mood.From Maine to Arkansas, Arizonato Louisiana, Colorado to Maryland, Texasto Virginia, city lights are waiting.You can join an organized city lights touror if  there isn't one, create your own.Get three or four families together, have apotluck first or plan a gathering for cookiesand Christmas carols, with toddies andpunch.  Then embark on your own tour.Newspapers feature the most colorfulcity lights, so you know where to go. to book or formore information on City Lights Tour.
The holy candelabrum, the menorah, adorns hundreds of Honolulu homes, reflecting the culture of the 10,000 Jewish residents in the city. 
In other spots around Oahu, Kaneohe transforms its Namoku Street into "Christmas Tree Lane" and revelers can also find lights in Kaimuki, Waikele, Waipahu and Mililani, considered Kaneohe's holiday hot spot.  
    House Beautiful magazine each year lists the best city lights in America.  The lights of Honolulu made the magazine's top ten again. Here's the link.
 Best city lights in the U.S.

So trees everywhere are aglow, and Santa's sleigh is loaded for kids of all ages.
If you're vacationing in a city, or relaxing in your own town, a holiday lights tour wherever you are will put you in the proper yuletide spirit -- guaranteed.
A menorah shines a light of hope on on downtown 
Honolulu.  Jewish culture revolves in the 
city around services at Temple Emanu-el.

Paris at night during the yule is a sight to behold.
UP NEXT: Christmas is celebrated in tandem with Hanukkah in many households around the world, where a Christmas tree and menorah co-exist in harmony in thousands of living rooms. We take readers on a tour of some of our favorite holiday sights and displays through years of spending holidays abroad. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live -- holiday time and all year long.  Be generous, forgiving and kind and let's make it a memorable and peaceful 2024.  


  1. Thanks for the nice credit. Most people don't know!

  2. Such fun to take the lights tours wherever we visit.

  3. Best thing about travel-- lights, parks and sculpture.

  4. New Orleans VisitorsDecember 19, 2023 at 1:54 PM

    Our favorite city, next to our own.