Penang Events and Festivals

(Penang, Federal Territory, Malaysia)

Picture of lantern celebrations at the Kek Lok Si TempleWith such an eclectic mix of cultures and ethnicities, Penang's festival and event calendar is full year-round. Visitors will delight in the colourful happenings that take place throughout the year around Penang, and may even wish to plan their visits to coincide with some of the biggest events and annual things to do.

Chinese New Year - in January - is a particularly notable festival given the island's high population of Chinese, while the International Dragon Boat Festival, which takes place every June, is Southeast Asia's most colourful boat race. August is a celebration of history, with the Penang Cultural Festival being nothing short of a month-long homage to the island's multi-cultural heritage.

Penang Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015


  • Chinese New Year - perhaps the most special time of year for the resident Chinese, when elaborate celebrations are held all over the island in honour of Chinese New Year. Colourful feasts and lion dances take place everywhere


  • Chap Goh Meh - an unusual February festival, Chap Goh Meh is a time when young, unmarried women throw oranges into the sea to find suitors. It is a tradition brought to Southeast Asia by the Hokkien, and is considered the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day


  • Songkran - celebrated in mid-April, Songkran is held in honour of the Thai New Year. Thai Buddhist temples host festivities around the island, including the water-splashing that goes on between festival revellers


  • Penang International Triathlon - the triathlon is held annually every May, drawing hundreds of athletes to Penang. It is an incredibly gruelling, fast-paced race that involves swimming, cycling and running


  • International Dragon Boat Festival - every June, teams from around the world descend on Penang for the annual Dragon Boat Festival, held in the waters off Batu Uban. This event is well-known for being Southeast Asia's most colourful boat race, and is all about friendly competition


  • Penang Beach Carnival - taking place over the course of a week every July, the Beach Carnival is held at Batu Ferringhi and features local foods, seaside celebrations, cultural events, shows, fashion parades, inter-hotel competitions and of course, plenty of partying


  • Penang Cultural Festival - a month-long celebration of the island's rich heritage, the Penang Cultural Festival features special performances and shows throughout the month of August in conjunction with the Penang Food Festival
  • Malaysia National Day - the island joins the rest of Malaysia on August 31st to celebrate its independence with colourful parades, performances and various shows


  • Malaysia Fest - every September, major hotels and resorts team up with the island's largest shopping complexes to attract visitors for a celebration of all things Malaysian, including culture, cuisine and handicrafts


  • Shopping Carnival - Penang, Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur hold a yearly shopping extravaganza as an extension of Malaysia Fest in October, a carnival featuring two weeks of special sales and product offerings


  • Pesta Pulau Festival - this festival is held every November to remind island residents of their harmonious and unique multi-cultural heritage


  • Christmas - the island celebrates Christmas on December 25th with religious traditions at churches everywhere, while the shopping centres, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues also feature festivities in honour of the season