Some people aren’t even aware that you can do events at Iolani Palace. Even though it is a museum, and certainly a sacred property with great historic significance, it also is a venue for events.
In order to book an event date, you must contact the Friends of Iolani Palace. There are a fair bit of rules (understandably so), all there to protect the sanctity and integrity of the palace grounds, and also to work around the normal visitation hours of the public and tours that frequent the Palace.
There are multiple grassy areas on the grounds itself that are possible to be used as an event space, although the two most popular spots are (1) the Coronation Lawn, and (2) the Barracks Lawn.
The Coronation Lawn surrounds the Coronation Pavillion, built for the February 12, 1883 coronation of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani. The lawn is broken up into smaller segments by a few walking paths, with the prime area being under the large shower trees on the mauka side of the Pavillion. Event there would work great for as small as an intimate gathering for 30-40 people, a wedding ceremony, or a huge group of 500-600. Tenting is a bit tough with higher head counts, but works great for up to 200 or so. There also is very little infrastructure on this part of the property, with running water, restrooms, and lighting found on the Barracks side of the service road.
The Barracks lawn is the more popular of the two venues, first because the Barracks itself actually has restrooms and running water, and secondly because there are certain features that lend themselves to a great special event. The Barracks itself is stunning, with great architecture. It’s a perfect spot for a cocktail area, or a quiet sitting place, being that you can’t do too much to the space because it does not become available until after all tours have concluded for the day (usually around 5pm). The Barracks also able to be lit up from the exterior with LED uplights, giving some height and accent to the building after nightfall. The lawn is nice and spacious, a perfect fit for up to a 40′ x 100′ tent lined up almost perfectly with the back entry from the Barracks, and ample space on the perimeter of that tent for food stations, entertainment, and other things. It also has a side lawn with a great old tree, perfect for a wedding ceremony, if you’re having a wedding. There are tall coconut trees scattered throughout the lawn, giving some great depth and character to an otherwise open lawn space.
For either property, the Palace does have a few rental-related rules. First, you must provide your own power, which means renting generators. For any normal event, this would be a trailer generator (15k and higher), and could cost $500 and up, depending on how many spider boxes you need and delivery charge. Second, all tents must be secured with water barrels and not pegs. This will incur extra costs when planning for a tented event. But overall, rules notwithstanding, this is an amazing venue in the middle of Downtown Honolulu.