Freestyle: Hallowbaloo expands in 2015

Aug. 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Crowds have descended on Chinatown for past Hallowbaloo events. (Star-Advertiser File/2012)


Crowds descend upon Chinatown for Hallowbaloo.


Hallowbaloo 2015, scheduled to take place this year on Oct. 31, is returning for an eighth year with an added venue: the Hawaii State Art Museum and adjoining streets.

Producer Mark Tarone said he expects the Halloween date and new location, with use of the museum lawn, will allow for this year’s festival to be more accessible and entertaining than ever, “an even livelier celebration” drawing some additional patrons. In past years, as many as 10,000 revelers, most of them costumed, have been drawn to the fest.

This year’s festival will extend from the Hawaii State Art Museum (aka HiSAM) and surrounding streets to Chinatown’s clubs, streets and sidewalks.

In a release, Tarone said he aims to make Hallowbaloo “the ultimate canvas for Halloween escapades,” while presenting national headliners — always a major Hallowbaloo attraction — and notable local acts.

Hallowbaloo’s main stage will be on the HiSAM lawn this year, with music, performance, costumed fest-goers and refreshments from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Two more stages will be set up on Richards Street.

Food, drinks and vendor tents will be available along Richards Street and on Hotel Street, between Alakea and Richards streets.

Tarone said he was excited to be able to present festival attractions in Honolulu’s historic Capital District, as well as in Chinatown, near notable sites such as Iolani Palace. HiSAM and Chinatown have been linked over the years as common parts of an arts district. Tarone called it “an area with a true sense-of-place and major value to our tourism industry and cultural identity.”

MEANWHILE, Chinatown’s clubs and restaurants will continue as a focus for Hallowbaloo, with trolley service down Hotel Street between the museum and Chinatown from 8 to 11 p.m.

“For families and more mellow revelers, an early jaunt through the street festival followed by dinner at one of Chinatown’s buzz-worthy restaurants will be hard to beat,” Tarone said.

Hallowbaloo’s late-night component is Club Hallowbaloo 2015, with music and entertainment at multiple Chinatown clubs and venues from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. Fest-goers can rove between all participating venues with the purchase of one festival wristband; Hotel Street will be closed to traffic between Nuuanu and Smith streets.

Tarone, who also presents a Mardi Gras-themed street festival in Honolulu each year, said live music and cultural programming are “essential” to his vision for Hallowbaloo. However, the festival has not cleared a profit in six of the past seven years. Costs attached to closing Honolulu streets and meeting city requirements to secure Chinatown, including a police presence, have risen.

In February, Tarone and participating clubs opted not to block off Hotel or to set up outdoor stages for the annual Mardi Gras Carnaval; barricades were set up on Hotel Street sidewalks to keep partygoers out of the street, resulting in sidewalk logjams and complaints from those who preferred the outdoor stages and vendors of previous years.

With this year’s Hallowbaloo, there will be more room to dance on HiSAM’s lawn and nearby.

The event will be presented by Tarone’s T-Rx Entertainment in conjunction with Chinatown’s Arts District Merchants Association. Local businesses have partnered with T-Rx to support the event, Tarone said, helping to take on some of the costs and responsibilities.

Get more details on the event and locations, and watch for upcoming announcements on the headliners (expected in September), at and
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.

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