5 Malaysian festivals to check out

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For multicultural Malaysia, there are a myriad of festivals and celebrations with the main holidays being Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, and Christmas, as well as specific Mega Sale Carnivals. But aapart from the usual revelry, there are also other fabulously different festivals that will capture your imagination:

1. Borneo Jazz Festival

CO604 trumpet player Borneo Jazz Festival Miri

CO647 stage Borneo Jazz Festival

Miri in northern Sarawak, East Malaysia, will buzz to the sounds of the Borneo International Jazz Festival to be staged over two nights on 13 and 14 May 2016. The venue is the laid-back and tropical surrounds of the expansive ParkCity Everly Hotel beside the Miri beachfront. Artistes are currently being selected, but visitors can be assured of some great live music, a cool venue, and a receptive audience. The music isn’t locked into a strict jazz genre and could include roots, blues, boogie woogie, and jazz fusion.

For more information, visit

2. Gawai Festival

Photo credit: BohemianTraveler / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


Photo credit: BohemianTraveler / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Sarawak’s Gawai Festival, the rice harvest for the Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, and a few other ethnic communities in East Malaysia, will be from 29th April to 1st May 2016. A successful harvest ensures that life will be just that easier for all these communities living in rural areas. One of the main parts of the festival involves villagers and visitors drinking generous amounts of a potent rice wine called tuak.Visitors are expected to join their hosts over and over again in toasting everybody’s excellent health.

For more information, visit


3. Rainforest World Music Festival

CO618D stage setting Rainforest World Music Festival

CO645 violinist

Ranked in the world’s top 25 music festivals by the authoritative Songlines Magazine, the RWMF provides an excellent reason for travelling to Sarawak. This very successful music festival is staged in the pleasant and semi-natural sounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village near the beach-front. Workshops are staged during the day and there’s a relaxed carnival atmosphere with drinks tents, tasty local snacks, tribal handicrafts and even the chance to get a tattoo. The stage comes alive each evening with an eclectic range of world music exponents and there are fun acts taking place between the main stage performers. The festival is staged over three days and nights from August 5th to 7th 2016.

For more information, visit

4. Port Dickson International Triathlon

SPO4569 PD Triathlong

SPO4570 PD Triathlon

The triathlon is a rapidly growing participatory sport in Malaysia, with this race by the beach just south of Kuala Lumpur attracting some 1,400 athletes from 35 countries. Most come to compete against the clock in racing a personal best but serious athletes come to gain a better race standing. Now in its 12th year, this event being held on 20th and 21st August 2016 will appeal to age-groupers, Olympic distance open, sprint, and relay teams. Port Dickson has an abundance of accommodation for out-of-town contestants, although the coastal town is also only a one-hour’s drive south of Kuala Lumpur.

For more information, visit

5. National Day

Photo credit: enshahdi II / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA



Photo credit: Fuzuri Design / Foter / CC BY

Malaysia celebrates Merdeka Day on August 31, with its independence from Britain and the birth of the nation taking place on this date in 1957. Ceremonies showcase national pride and achievements and many cars, houses, and buildings proudly fly the Malaysian flag throughout the month of August. Parades are held with the main one through the centre of Kuala Lumpur. Organisations, companies, and government departments participate, along with marching troupes and bands.

For more information, visit

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Source: Senses of Malaysia March-April 2015

This article was updated on March 2016.

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Danny Chang

I am a triathlete but 4 is out of place. Could have easily fitted thaipusam or.hungry.ghost festival

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