Penang Festivals

Kek Lok Si

Captured by Blueman Photography

Great festivals in Penang

A glass marble with multiple coloured strands is probably the best object to personify the multi-cultural characteristic of Penang. In Penang, all ethnic strains are beautifully encased together in a transparent sphere, delicately linked together through shared history and common goals yet individually shining and tracing its lineage to its roots.

In the 18th and 19th century, Penang was already a prosperous cosmopolitan town in its own right, attracting the Europeans, Arabs, Armenians, Jews, Sikhs, Indians, Chinese, Thais, Burmese and folks from all over the Malay archipelago; hosting famed poets, writers, researchers and other personalities of that time. Some came and gone, many settled down permanently and weaved their magic into the tapestry of Penang forever. With its rich diversity, Penang celebrates a whole lot of festivals year round. The festivals originated mostly as religious or folk cultural events but have since grown to cover a wider spectrum in the last decade.

Today festivals of Penang can roughly be categorized into religious celebrations, calendar based observation of season change and harvest period, art and folk cultural celebrations, sport-themed festivals, food-themed festivals and trade fair festivals.


Captured by Blueman Photography

The major religious celebrations are:
• Islam- Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Haji, Nuzul Al-Quran and Awal Muharram;
• Buddhist- Wesak Day;
• Taoist- Jade Emperor God Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival, and the Nine Emperor Gods Festival;
• Christian- Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day and St Ann Novena;
• Hindus- Deepavali and Thaipusam.

The major observation of calendar based new year, season change and harvest period festivals are:
New Year Celebrations-
• Gregorian Calendar January 1st,
• Chinese Lunar New Year and Chop Goh Meh Festival,
• Thai and Burmese Buddhist New Year, and
• Sikh Vaisakhi New Year;

Season Change, Farming and Harvest Related Celebrations-
• Hindu’s Pongal,
• Sikh’s Vaisakhi,
• Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake festival)

The major art and folks cultural based celebrations are:
• Dragon Boat Festival,
• Ching Ming (tomb-sweeping day),
• Chingay Parade, Hakka Cultural Festival,
• Thai Loy Krathong Festival,
• Japanese Bon Odori,
• Penang Island Jazz Festival, and
• Irish St Patrick’s Day.

Lion Dance

Captured by Blueman Photography

The major sport-themed festivals are:
• Penang Bridge International Marathon,
• Penang Sports Club International Soccer Tournament,
• Penang Golf Tournament,
• PGM Asian Development Tour,
• Penang International Open Ballroom Dancing Championship, and
• Penang International Lion Dance on Stilts Championship.

The major food-themed festivals are:
• Penang Durian Festival, and
• Ramadan Bazaar

The major trade fair festivals are:
• World Curry Festival,
• Penang AgroFest,
• Pesta Pulau Pinang,
• Penang Fashion Week,
• Penang MITM Travel Fair,
• World Tourism Mart-Asia,
• The Wedding Host Season,
• Penang Floral Festival and
• Auto City Carnival.

Besides the various festivals, there is always something going on in Penang, be it a yoga jamboree, uphill cycling, fruit orchard visiting, or just simply have a cup of coffee in a chic cafe. Penang is varied enough to cater for all individual taste. Hop in any time for a treat!