Holiday highlights on Guam

Photo by Guam Visitors Bureau
Photo by Guam Visitors Bureau

Holiday highlights on Guam

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam

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. 5, 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 a Christmas Eve candlelight service, to a New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

According to Sayumi Ishioka, who has lived on Guam for a long time 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. 19.

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

Photo courtesy of Hilton Guam Resort & Spa

The Hilton Guam Resort & Spa’s Annual Christmas Train is back for the holiday season! The train will be on display in the main lobby through the first week in January, operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The train display features local landmarks that can be found around the island of Guam, along with bridges, hot air balloons and the train wagons. As part of a longstanding tradition, the Hilton has always selected a local charity to benefit from the train sponsorship. This year they will donate to the Autism Community, a local organization. For more information, call 646-1835.

Holiday Lights and Snow Show

Photo courtesy of Micronesia Mall

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. (Dec. 13-23, 1-10 p.m.) For more information, call Micronesia Mall at 632-8881.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Photo courtesy of Guam Visitors Bureau

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 more details, call 646-5278.

“Worlds of Wonder”
Holiday Illumination Village

The annual holiday illumination opened with ceremony next to Tumon Sands Plaza on Dec. 5. This year’s theme is called “Worlds of Wonder,” which will offer holiday photo opportunities for the whole family. The Holiday Illumination Village will be open nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday - Thursday and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday - Sunday through Jan. 14. For more information, call 646-5278.

Governor’s Christmas Festival

The Governor’s Christmas Festival features an array of colorful Christmas lights displayed throughout the historic gardens of the Government House in Agana Heights. There will be live music, dancing and video mapping.

Holiday Gingerbread House

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Guam

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Guam is home to the island’s largest gingerbread house. The tradition of the Holiday Gingerbread House started in 2011 and is a collaborative effort of engineering and pastry teams at Hyatt Regency®Guam. The magical 12-foot tall house consists of approximately 400 baked gingerbread bricks, 800 pounds of royal icing and is adorned in festive candies, cookies and sweets. The house is open daily through Jan. 7, and people can visit all day. For more information, call 647-1234.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Photo courtesy of Lutheran Church of Guam

Lutheran Church of Guam is inviting everyone to its annual Christmas Eve candlelight caroling service on Dec. 24 at 9 p.m. Come and hear the Christmas story and join in singing classic Christmas carols in candlelight as you celebrate the Light of the World. For more information, call the Lutheran Church at 477-8595.

Christmas Dream Display

The display, which is located on the second floor of the Agana Shopping Center, features an array of Christmas villages, ornaments, Santa Claus and more that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. The Christmas display can be viewed from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Jan. 2. Admission is free but donations are always welcomed. For more information, call the Capuchin Office at 472-6339.

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