Malaysia is a country with rich and diverse cultural heritage. From its Chinese community who celebrate their New Year with lion dances and firecrackers, to the many ethnic groups of Sabah in Borneo who hold festivals to share their folk art, to the thrill seekers who flock to the country’s marathons and triathlons each year, there is something for everyone.
This exciting and colorful five-day event attracts kite enthusiasts from all over the world to Pasir Gudang recreational park to show off their craftsmanship and flying skills. Participants fly their elaborate and traditional kites, some of which drop candy over the spectators; there are competitions as well as workshops for youngsters.
January 23 2016
For one day each year, the Tamil Hindus of Malaysia give thanks and do penance. Thousands of pilgrims make the eight-hour walk from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves, bearing kavadi - physical burdens, which may include rods through their cheeks or hooks embedded into the skin. The Kavadis honor Murugan, the god of victory.
February 8-9 2016
This three-day festival is celebrated by Malaysian Chinese throughout the country. Houses, temples and streets are cleaned and decorated, families come together for reunion meals, children receive red packets of money and there are dragon and lion dances in the street. Fireworks are set off and there is a festive atmosphere.
Asia’s premier cycling event takes place over ten days and its ten stages pass through eight states in the Malaysian peninsula with the route changing every year. Teams comprised of six professional riders from across the globe compete to complete the 930 mile course in record time and win the coveted yellow jersey.
Each year, speed freaks head to Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur to catch the Formula 1 action which is particularly exciting in Malaysia with soaring temperatures and stormy conditions keeping the drivers on their toes. This high class event sees visitors enjoying the thrills of the track as well as the city’s luxury hotels and shopping.
April 11-13 2016
This three-day festival celebrates the culture, traditions and craftsmanship of the Murut people. There are exhibitions and displays about their many sub-ethnic groups including dance and music performances and hut-building demonstrations. Visitors from all over Malaysia flock to Tenom to enjoy the festivities and buy beautiful Murut crafts.
April 24-26 2016
This three-day festival is a celebration for the Bajaus tribe as they pay homage to their traditional sailing boat. The boats are decorated and sailed out in a flotilla to compete for the prize of most beautiful. There are cultural dance and music performances, a beauty pageant and grand firework displays at night.
May 1-3 2016
Every year, more than 30 ethnic groups indigenous to Sabah come together to celebrate and share their traditions and heritage. The culmination is a two-day festival with demonstrations of folk dance and music, as well as storytelling. Visitors can enjoy authentic homemade food and buy exquisite wooden carved souvenirs and crafts.
April 25 - May 1 2016
Known as ‘the beautiful run’, the Borneo marathon takes place along the palm-fringed, coastal roads of the island of Kinabalu in Sabah. Participants can take part in the full marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles) or the 10 km run (just over 6 miles). Spectators line the route, creating a festive atmosphere.
May 13-14 2016
This increasingly popular two-day jazz extravaganza is the leading music festival in the country and attracts aficionados from all over the world to Miri in Sarawak. Every year more visitors are coming to enjoy live music from the local and international line-up of jazz superstars and to experience the culture of the region.
May 23 2015
This increasingly popular festival brings together more than 25 ethnic groups from Tawau in Sabah as well as Johore Bahru and Sarawak. There are presentations and demonstrations of dance, music and poetry as well as examples of authentic food and costume and visitors flock to the festival to buy the handmade tribal crafts.
May 21 2016
This important day in the Buddhist calendar is celebrated by devotees throughout Malaysia. It commemorates Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing over. People visit the temple and make offerings, burn incense and pour water over statues of Buddha to symbolize cleansing. Candlelit processions take place in the evening.
May 7 2016
Every year, visitors from all over Malaysia and beyond converge upon Kuala Lumpur for the biggest celebration of the country’s rich, diverse culture. There is a huge, colorful parade of dancers and musicians from many different ethnic groups, traditional street food, free concerts, and there are flash mobs all over the city.
May 25-30 2015
This popular five-day festival showcases the incredible skills of kite makers from all over Malaysia and 18 other countries as international participants and spectators gather to see their creations color the sky. There are also cultural dance and music shows to be enjoyed as well as delicious traditional food and crafts on sale.
May 31-June 1 annually
For this two-day harvest festival and public holiday, the indigenous Dayak people of Sarawak come together to give thanks. The colorful celebration attracts locals and visitors from all over Malaysia who come to see the traditional costumes, the procession and beauty pageant, folk dancing and singing and to share authentic food.
September 22-16 2015
Dancers from all over Malaysia and the world converge upon Sibu Civic Theatre to showcase a diverse programme of dance. Many styles are represented, from classical Malay tribal dance and European folk dance to contemporary, modern and ballroom. There is a colorful opening ceremony and a day of workshops, followed by a two-day concert.
June 7-9 2016
This two-day festival is celebrated by the Bisaya people of Sarawak and attracts visitors from all over. The Bisaya honor their buffalos with a carnival featuring dance and music performances, traditional food and handmade crafts. The highlight is an exciting bareback buffalo race between teams from Limbang, Sabah and Brunei.
June 7-8 2014
This increasingly popular two-day event attracts boat racing teams from Hong Kong, China, Japan and the rest of Malaysia to Likas Bay in Sabah. Spectators flock to see the colorful boat race as the teams beat their drums to synchronize their paddling. There are local gourmet delicacies, while music and dance creates a carnival atmosphere.
August 8-16 2015
Folk dance ensembles from around the world are invited to perform and share their traditions and culture through dance and music at the Sabah Cultural Center. The nine-day event features demonstrations, workshops, folk art exhibitions and a food fair alongside performances of international classical dance.
June 23-29 annually
For decades, the descendents of the Portuguese settlers of Melaka have held an annual festival in honor of the patron saint of fishermen and now the week-long San Pedro fiesta is popular with tourists from all over who come for the bazaars, the fairground, concerts, cultural performances and the procession and feast on the final day.
July 19 annually
The Bidayuh community of Bung Jagoi in Sarawak comes together for one day with increasing numbers of visitors from all over Malaysia and beyond to celebrate the end of the year’s harvest and to show off their culture and traditions. There are performances of traditional music and dance, as well as a beauty pageant and carnival.
July 30 - August 8 2015
Established to celebrate and promote the diverse and beautiful culture of the island of Borneo, this popular ten-day festival attracts visitors from all over. There are art exhibitions, cultural dance performances, concerts, story and poetry recitals and delicious home-cooked traditional food from all facets of the community in Sibu.
August 22 2015 | 2016
Every three years, the community in the Baram River basin in Sarawak celebrates their culture and traditions, along with peace between tribes. Visitors flock to the region to witness exciting races with different types of boats. There are also cultural performances, sporting and singing competitions and a grand beauty pageant.
September 12-28 2015
Throughout the second part of September, a rich and diverse celebration of artistic endeavour is celebrated across Borneo, from Sabah to Sarawak and Labuan. Visitors from all over the world enjoy the musical performances and competitions, exhibitions of fashion, arts and photography, as well as traditional food and storytelling.
September 25-27 2015
Water sports enthusiasts gather for this annual, two-day event, which historically celebrates peace between warring tribes. As well as racing traditional, decorated long boats, the teams of rowers from all over ASEAN take part in a range of other events, competing for cash prizes. There is also a food festival and golf tournament.
September 23-27 2015
Professional and amateur kitemakers and their families from all over the world gather for an exciting and colorful day in Bintulu to see and fly spectacular kites. There are plenty of activities to take part in, including workshops with kitemakers, and kite-coloring competitions. There is also a range of great food and drink available.
September 26 2015
This two-day festival sees Borneo’s Bajau community come together and welcome visitors from around the region to enjoy and experience their traditional folk music, known as Betitik. There is an exhibition about the history and culture of the ethnic group, as well as a market selling local food and handmade crafts.
October 24 2015
For one day each year, the Tamu market in Kota Belud expands and welcomes visitors from all around for the annual grand market carnival festivities of the Tamu Besar. As well as all the usual local food and crafts, there is a parade of Bajau horsemen, an exciting water buffalo race and a popular beauty pageant.
October 31 2016
Hindus all over Malaysia celebrate this joyful and festive occasion once a year. On the day of Deepavali, devotees cleanse themselves and visit the temple. They decorate their houses and the streets with colorful lights to commemorate the return of the gods Rama and Sita from exile. There are firework displays and meals are shared.
October 24-25 2015
The traditional folk music of Sabah is characterized by the gong which has been made for centuries by the craftsmen in the village of Sumangkap. The gong is celebrated by the villagers and visitors in this two-day festival featuring classical music and dance from Sabah. There is also the opportunity to see how the gongs are made.