Holiday highlights on Guam
Stripes Guam | .
published: December 13, 2017
Guam may not conjure up images of a typical winter holiday setting, but Christmas spirit and traditions thrive on this tropical paradise.
Since illuminations began lighting up the streets of Tumon on Dec. 3, a series of exciting annual holiday events have or will bring holiday cheer. The events range from the Holiday Lights and Snow Show in a shopping mall and beachside Nativity scene, to a New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
According to Sayumi Ishioka, who’s lived on Guam for 17 years and is part of the management at Micronesia Mall, there are a lot of outdoor parties going on throughout the season.
“Santa Claus forgoes his usual fuzzy ensemble for shorts and a T-shirt, and children spend Christmas on a white beach instead of a snow field,” Ishioka said.
Like in the States, the holiday season on Guam is a time for shopping.
“It is the busiest time for us,” Ishioka said. “So many visitors and residents came over to the mall to shop for gifts and souvenirs. I feel the holiday season on Guam is for shopping and outdoor parties.”
Approximately four miles of Pale San Vitores Road, also known as “Hotel Road” is decorated by beautiful Christmas decorations and special lighted displays featuring Santa Claus and cultural icons of Guam. This illumination project will remain lit until around Jan. 14.
The Shop Guam e-Festival, which was started in 2012 may have helped this trend, as the global cooperative social media marketing campaign features an array of retail, dining and entertainment discounts packed into the holiday period on Guam.
However, with 85 percent of Guam’s 160,000 residents being Catholic, the season also reflects Christian traditions.
“More than the lights, gifts and parties during Christmas season, it’s the reason for the season that we have to give emphasis to,” says longtime resident Liza Francisco. “It’s the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. On Guam, it’s not as elaborate as in the Philippines. It really depends on the person. But family get-togethers and activities like midnight Masses makes Christmas a busy season.”
“Many people attend December 24 midnight mass,” Francisco said. “Normally, they have family gatherings on the 25th. Almost all restaurants are fully booked on Christmas Day, especially restaurants in major hotels during lunch and dinnertime.”
No matter what your preferences is, there should be plenty to do on island to ring in the holiday season. Get out and enjoy it!
Festive events you can check out this holiday season.
Hilton Holiday Train
The Hilton Holiday Train will be on display through the first week in January, operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. As part of a longstanding tradition, the Hilton has always selected a local charity to benefit from the train sponsorship. This year, the hotel selected the VARO (Victim advocates reaching out). The train launch ceremony took place on Nov. 22 and a check was presented to the VARO in the amount of $5,000. For more information, call 646-1835.
Holiday Lights and Snow Show at the Micronesia Mall in Dededo
Micronesia Mall runs the Holiday Lights and Snow Show in its center court throughout the holiday season. A 30-foot Christmas tree adorned with more than 40,000 LED lights is featured in the center. There is a train circling the tree that children can ride for $1. Jolly old Saint Nick smiles from the center as children line up to whisper their Christmas wishes. Snow show is performed once an hour between 1 and 8 p.m. The mall closes at 9 p.m. For more information, call Micronesia Mall at 632-8881.
Holiday Illumination “A Guamazing Christmas”
The annual holiday illumination opened with ceremony next to Tumon Sands Plaza on Dec. 9. This year’s theme is called “A #Guamazing Christmas.” Santa Claus is scheduled to appear from 6 to 8 p.m. and there will be live music, as well as small gifts for the first 100 kids. Parking is available at the Tumon Sands Plaza. If you happen to miss the official opening, don’t worry. The Holiday Illumination Village will be open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday - Sunday through January 14, 2018. For more information call 646-5278.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
To celebrate New Year’s, the Guam Visitors Bureau lights up the night sky with fireworks off Tumon Gulf at midnight Jan. 1. You can enjoy the 10-minute fireworks display on Tumon Beach. For details, call 646-5278.
Christmas Dream Display at Agana Shopping Center
Sanctuary Inc. of Guam, in celebration of its 46th anniversary, presents Christmas Dream on the 2nd floor of Agana Shopping Center. The Christmas display can be viewed from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly until Jan. 5, 2018. The display showcases across more than 8,000 square feet, and features a train set, Christmas trees, lights, Nativity scenes, a 40-foot igloo, giant nutcrackers, a free Christmas photo booth, local talent sharing Christmas carols and more. Admission is free.
Holiday Gingerbread House
The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Guam is home to the island’s largest gingerbread house. The tradition of the “Holiday Gingerbread House” began in 2011 when Hyatt engineers and award-winning Pastry Chef Suharto collaborated to construct the giant house. The magical house stands 12-feet tall and was constructed with approximately 400 sheets of fresh-baked gingerbread bricks and 800 pounds of royal icing, festively adorned with colorful candies, cookies and sweets. For more information, call 688-8820.
The house is open daily through Jan. 7, and people can visit all day (The public is invited to decorate from 6 - 7 p.m. daily).
Magof Nochebuena Peace Festival
The 5th Annual Magof Nochebuena (A Happy Good Night) Peace Festival features an array of colorful Christmas light installations displayed throughout the historic gardens of the Government House in Agana Heights. There will be music, dancing, photos with Santa, a walk through a special Christmas display and beautiful Christmas trees decorated by local community organizations. Admission is free.
Open nightly though Jan. 7: Sun. - Thurs.: 6 - 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat.: 6 - 10 p.m. Photos with Santa will be offered on Fri., 6 - 9 p.m. For more information, call 475-9474.
“Where America’s New Year begins” - Guam’s biggest New Year’s Eve party
There’s nothing that says America like the ground-breaking television show American Idol – which means attendees can look forward to enjoying the return of award-winning celebrity singer and songwriter Constantine Maroulis for another extraordinary performance featuring classics by Queen, Journey and Rock of Ages. The New Year’s Eve celebration is open to all - offering guests a fabulous red, white and blue five-star experience to kick off 2018. Guam Convention Center doors open at 9 p.m. with free flowing drinks and food; the concert starts at 10 p.m. and afterwards dance into the New Year with DJ Yoshi. VIP packages offer guests their own check-in with Champagne in hand, ultra-exclusive parties in specialty rooms with Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliquot bottle service, a meet and greet with Constantine plus VIP concert seating in ultimate comfort. Tickets can be purchased online at dusitnye.eventbrite.com or in the lobby of Dusit Thani at the Restaurant Reservations desk. General admission is $100, premium admission is $150 and VIP admission is $250. For more details and New Year’s Eve restaurant packaging information call 648-8000 or follow Dusit Thani on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Lutheran Church of Guam
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service! Join the Lutheran Church of Guam this Christmas Eve at 9 p.m. for the annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service! Come and hear the Christmas story and join in singing classic Christmas carols in candlelight, as you celebrate the Light of the World. Everyone is welcome! For more information, call the Lutheran Church at 477-8595.