Kuala Lumpur Festivals And Events
Festivals and events in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia’s population practices a variety of religions, with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity taking centre stage, and as a result you will find that a lot of Kuala Lumpur festivals and events are based around religious occasions – with many national holidays to celebrate these auspicious occasions. The biggest and grandest festivals in Kuala Lumpur are Ramadan, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas, with festivities that include friends and family from all races and religions, turning them into colourful, harmonious proceedings. Besides that, there are also ‘mini’ cultural festivals that take place, such as Awal Muharram, Chap Goh Mei, Thaipusam, and Easter.
It is important to note that while most Kuala Lumpur festivals have fixed dates, others are dependent on the lunar calendar, resulting in dates that vary annually. Besides spiritual celebrations, other special events in KL range from kite flying (Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival) and bicycle competitions (Le Tour De Langkawi) to the Malaysian Grand Prix. We recommend that you check the dates of major festivals before your trip as it can get difficult to find a room in KL during that time.
Other Festival & Events in Kuala Lumpur
The Chinese New Year is the most important ethnic festival for the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the whole of Malaysia. It celebrates the first day of the lunar calendar, and lasts for 15 days. The prelude to the festival is filled with much fan-fare, shopping and events around the city. Chinese around the country will eagerly prepare their homes for the big celebrations and reunions set to take place. As most Chinese in Kuala Lumpur are born in other states, the week before the first day of Chinese New Year is a massive exodus of people from the city to the outstation towns from which they were born ad where their parents still reside. Read More...
- Highlights: 8th Feb, 2016
The Christmas Celebration is not about shopping, snowmen, jingle bells, pine trees, presents and most certainly not Santa Claus. It is actually to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world as the Bible states. On the eve, Christians around the city and across Malaysia will gather together to have close-knit dinners. Some church groups will organise carolling and sings songs to their neighbourhood while on Christmas Day, they will visit their churches to have praise and worship. Read More...
Deepavali (29th October, 2016)
The Indians in Malaysia, predominantly Hindus, celebrate this festival which is also called 'Diwali' or Festival of Lights. During this day, Hindus offer prayers of thanksgiving and conduct cleansing rituals in temples and household altars. To prepare for the celebration, Hindus conduct a massive spring-cleaning of their homes, adding decorative designs made out of coloured rice and placing them on walls and floors. Their homes will also be lit with oil lamps, place strategically around different areas especially on the porch and balcony.
Temples, on the other hand, will be lavishly coated in flowers and offerings of fruit and coconut milk are placed at altars by devotees. Some devotees prepare for this festival by going on a fast or vegetarian diet.
Deepavali is also a time to sample delicious Indian delicacies such as sweetmeats, rice puddings and the ever-popular murukku, a type of fried flour cookie.
On the morning of Deepavali, many Hindus take an oil bath before heading to the temples for prayers and ceremonial rites. The rest of the day, they usually open their houses to guests and call friends or neighbours to feast on delicious Indian food.
- Highlights: 10th November, 2015
Muslims around the world celebrate Hari Raya AidilFitri , which literally translates to 'Celebration Day, after a month of holy fasting, which is referred to as Ramadhan month. During the fasting period, many bazaars which are a form of night market called 'pasar malam' will be held each evening in different places around the country. These bazaars sell mostly traditional Malay delicacies, as the Muslims come here to purchase and prepare food for the breaking of fast at 7pm each day in October. Besides these bazaars, many hotels will provide great dining opportunities to feast on Malay cuisine for the breaking of fast. Read More...
- Highlights: 17th & 18th July, 2015
On August 31, 1957, the Union Jack was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted up the flagpole at Dataran Merdeka field in Kuala Lumpur, signalling the birth of a new nation. After centuries of internal strife between warring states, Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisation as well as World War II, Malaya, as Malaysia was known then, received her independence from the British. About six years later, Malaysia was created when Sabah and Sarawak joined in the coalition.
During the eve of National Day, the city becomes a riot of colours. Local celebrities and singers take stage in various parts of Kuala Lumpur with free open-air concerts. And when midnight ticks by, fireworks shoot up the sky to mark National Day, carpeting the city sky in explosions of light and sound. In the morning, a parade used to take place past the Sultan Abdul Samad building each year, but now every state takes turns to host the parade. Read More...
Mid-Autumn Festival (15th September, 2016)
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Cake or Lantern Festival, originating from a time of conflict in 14th-Century China. While Chinese in different countries celebrate it with distinct traditions and practices, all agree that the festival commemorates the summer harvest season of their ancestors, and also the fall of Mongolian rulers in China after a successful rebellion.
On the day of the uprising, the rebel leaders delivered thousands of moon cakes to homes scattered around the city, each containing a letter stating the time and date to rise up. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebellion began and succeeded in driving off the Manchurian oppressors.
In Malaysia, the Chinese celebrate this festival by purchasing and consuming moon cakes with different flavours, including some outrageous ones like durian and coffee! So popular are these moon cakes that many hotels, if not all, stock their own freshly-made pieces for guests to savour. Hotels and resorts around the country take this opportunity to outdo each other with quality moon cakes using creative and innovative flavours and designs.
From the traditional red bean or lotus paste to the innovative ice cream versions, moon cakes are a once-a-year delight. At night on the actual festival, children take to the streets walking around with paper lanterns shaped like animals, vehicles or the traditional Chinese 'Tan Lok' foldable lanterns.
- Highlights: 27th September, 2015
Thaipusam is a colourful annual celebration in honour of the Hindu god Subramanian, with festivities mainly taking place in Batu Caves – a limestone hill with a series of caverns and temples about 13km north of KL. It is a famous festival largely because of the practice of devotees who impale their bodies with long metal skewers during the event.
Celebrated by the city’s Tamil Indian community, Thaipusam is one of the best times to visit Batu Caves. 272 stairs lead to the top and just inside the front door, piles of stone slabs have fashioned out a sort of Norman arch that frames a giant, granite-carved statue of Lord Subramanian. Inside the caves are more exquisitely carved Hindu guardian figures; some statues at Batu Caves, like the four-armed depiction of Prithvi, look deeply peaceful while others (such as the giant, green-skinned Lord Hanuman) are intimidating. Read More...
- Highlights: 23rd Jan, 2016
- Location: Batu Caves
- How to get there: There are bus services that can take you all the way up to Batu Caves during Thaipusam: simply look for the bus with the paper signage stuck to its window that says ‘Batu Caves’ or ‘Thaipusam’. They start out at the stand near the Pasar Seni LRT station (behind Sri MahamariammanTemple) and the tickets cost RM2 per one-way trip.