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Updated by Joanna James on Sep 19, 2021
Headline for Top 5 Festivals in Malaysia - Discover Malaysia's Five Best Local Festivals
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Festivals in Malaysia - Discover Malaysia's Five Best Local Festivals

As one of Asia's most popular tourist hubs, Malaysia is not only a recreational heartland but also a land with a rich cultural heritage. There's no better way to uncover the local traditions of this diverse landscape than by participating in some of Malaysia's most colourful annual festivities.


Chinese New Year

Ranked among the biggest cultural events in the Malaysian calendar, the Chinese New Year is a celebration that takes up nearly 15 days in the month of February. Marked with great pomp and pageantry throughout the country, Kuala Lumpur is where the celebrations are at their finest due to the many events that are organised in conjunction with the red-letter day. The Chinese New Year is marked by a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve when family members gather to secure blessings for a good year around from the deity of prosperity in the Chinese pantheon. Other customs associated with this holiday includes handing out mandarins, dressing up in the colour red, and taking part in dragon dance processions


Malaysia Water Festival

Often compared to the Festival of Holi that's celebrated across India, this April festival also involves the heavy use of colourful dyes. Kicking off at the beginning of Kuantan and concluding by Labuan, the most visible aspect of the Malaysia Water Festival is its street water fights that break out among people from all walks of life. This good-humoured water play is not the only main event during the festivities as sandcastle building and kayaking races are also organised in addition to fishing contests among locals. Those based at Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa or any other similar beach resort in Langkawi can even take part in the kayaking or fishing tournaments held during this time of year.


Wesak Day

As one of the grandest and most sacred local festivals in the local calendar, Wesak Day is no ordinary spiritual event in Malaysia. Wesak Day is a full-moon Poya day in which all of the three main mileposts in Lord Buddha's (birth, enlightenment, and the attainment of nirvana) are celebrated. Malaysians of the Buddhist faith will usually fast to cleanse themselves of their sins and spend time in meditation in preparation for Wesak Day. Another tradition connected to this holy day includes releasing turtles and doves who are kept in captivity as devotees believe this will absolve one of one's sins.


Sarawak Gawai Festival

Held in the month of June, Sarawak Gawai Festival is a harvest festival that lasts an entire month. At the heart of the festivities is the indigenous Dayak community who will offer various ceremonial gifts to welcome their New Year with positive energy. Days of feasting and dancing and drinking homemade traditional rice wine follow this festival that's marked in Dayak longhouses where nearly 40 family members are known to live together.


National Day

Having gained independence from Britain on August 31st,1957, Malaysians make it a point to mark this memorable day in their history with parades, fireworks, and concerts that are no less spectacular than the 4th of July events in the USA. Stage shows, special exhibitions, and street performances also take place in Kuala Lumpur during this time of year.

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