Calendar of Events & Festivals in Penang

Highlights of the year in Penang
Colorful devotee with fan at the Nine Emporer Gods Festival in Malaysia
Colorful celebrations are common all year round in Penang


Penang island is renown for being filled with multi-cultural diversity and fantastic festivals throughout the year. Listed below are some of the main highlights that visitors to Penang should enjoy.

Do note that many religious festivals are lunar based so exact dates differ every year. However those dates have been noted below.

January in Penang

Event: Pongal Festival Date: 13-16 January

Location: Penang (little India)


Pongal is a Hindu “thanksgiving” festival dedicated to the Sun God Surya. The term pongal literally means "boiling over". This refers to pots of rice and milk which are heated up until they boil over. The moment the mixture spills people shout out "Ponggalo Pongo"

The festival lasts for four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the fourth day of Thai.

Event: Maulidur Rasul Date: 24 January

Location: Penang

This celebration commemorates the birth of Prophet Muhammad. It's a state level festival and a public holiday in Penang. Activities are largely organized around the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

Event: Thaipusam Date: 24 - 28 January

Location: George Town, Little India

Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai and commemorates the Lord Muruga, a hindu deity.

Over the course if three days there are many celebrations around Little India in George Town. With highlights including a procession on the 26th with a statue to Lord Muruga on a silver chariot. On the 27th up to 800,000 visitors can be expected to attend another precession to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani temple. On the 28th the statue of Lord Muruga returns to Penang street in a large precession. Throughout the festival there are many colorful stalls lining the streets. Expect large crowds!

February in Penang

Event: Chinese New Year Date: February

Location: Penang

Chinese New Year is usually celebrated in the month of February but the date changes within February every year. A countdown to Chinese New Year takes place in the days beforehand. Then on New Years there's a large celebration involving many street parades and fireworks.

Event: Kek Lok Si Display of Lights Date: February 6 - March 9

Location: Air Itam

The 120 year old Temple of Supreme Bliss puts on an annual lighting ceremony. Well worth attending as the temple is one of the most ornate in all South East Asia.

Event: Chor Soo Kong's Birthday Date: 15th February

Location: Snake Temple

Chor Soo Kong is known as the protector of snakes. As the snake temple has been inhabited by snakes since the middle of the 19th century the celebration is best attended from there.

Event: Hokkien New Year Date: 17th February

Location: Chew Jetty

The Hokkien Clan celebrate their forefathers escape from China with a night celebration. This also coincided with the Jade Emperor God's birthday.

Event: Chinese Valentines Day Date: Late February

Location: Jetty's

During in the evening young unmarried ladies throw oranges into the sea wishing for a good soul mate. Street food, fireworks and street parades take place.

April Events in Penang

Event: Songkran Date: 13th April

Location: Penang

A water festival where throwing bags of water at to wash away bad luck. After that having good fun is the aim of the day. Good fun but be prepared to be very wet!

Event: Harvest Festival Date: 20th April

Location: Penang

A Sikh festival which is celebrated with singing and dancing in Penang Times Square. Open houses are popular and give you an insight into what a traditional Sikh household is like.

May Events in Penang

Event: Wesak Day Date: 24th May

Location: George Town

Devotees flock to Buddhist temples to celebrate Buddha's birthday. From early morning candle lit processions are common place along with free meals along streets and Monks chanting sacred sutras all day.

June Events in Penang

Event: Penang Durian Festival Date: 1st June - 15th July

Location: George Town

The huge sticky fruit known as Durian is celebrated during this period. Some of Penang's most prized Durian fruits are exhibited here. During the festival there will be plenty of occasions to try the "king of fruits".

Event: George Town Festival Date: 7th June - 7th July

Location: George Town

A month long cultural, theatrical and musical performances celebrating Penang's prized heritage town.

Event: Dragon Boat Festival Date: 8th- 9th June

Location: Teluk Bahang Dam

A recently new sport in Penang Dragon boat racing can be a good and exciting spectator sport. Colorful team boats race to a finish line with a mixture of speed, discipline and teamwork.

July Events in Penang

Event: George Town World Heritage Day Date: 7th July

Location: George Town

George Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage city on the 7th of July 2008. Now the date is commemorated as a public holiday on the entire state of Penang.

Event: St. Anne's Festival Date: 22nd - 28th July

Location: Bukit Mertajam

St. Anne's Church is the center point to the carnival like celebration of the 10 day Novena. Masses and prayers are said throughout the day which are open to all believers.

Event: Nuzul Al-Quran Date: July

Location: Penang

On the 17th day of Ramadan there is a celebration to commemorate the day Prophet Muhammad first received the Scriptures from Heaven. This is a national public holiday.

Event: Ramadan Bazaar Date: July/August

Location: George Town

During Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month) the streets around Komtar are filled with with night stalls selling a huge variety of food and shopping bargains.

August Events in Penang

Event: Hungry Ghost Festival Date: 7th August - 4th September

Location: George Town

Falling on the seventh lunar month it is believed that the gates of hell are thrown open for spirits from the netherworld to roam freely in search of food. Makeshift altars are erected on streets where giant joss sticks are lit and food is offered to appease the gods. Opera and puppet shows are also conducted on a nightly bases.

Event: Hari Raya Aidilfitri Date: 8th - 8th August

Location: George Town

Muslim households celebrate by opening their houses for family and friends. Traditional Malay food is cooked for all to enjoy. Money is given to children, elderly or the poor in little green envelopes.

Event: Malaysian Independence Day Date: 31st August

Location: George Town

A national holiday there is often a street parade consisting of government offices to the military.

October Events in Penang

Event: Nine Emperor Gods Festival Date: 5th - 13th October

Location: Butterworth

Celebrating when the spirits of the Nine Gods descend to earth by possessing spirit mediums by putting them in a trance. Throughout the festival activities like skewering and fire walking ceremonies are carried out.

Event: Navratri Festival Date: 5th - 13th October

Location: George Town

A Hindu festival where devotees pray to the Goddess Thurga, Laxmi and Sarawathy for power, wealth and education. There's also a chariot procession.

Event: Halloween Festival Date: 31st October

Location: War Museum

A huge halloween festival is celebrated at the open air war museum. A low key local event over a historical British fort.

November Events in Penang

Event: Deepavali Date: 2nd November

Location: Little India

A colorful festival also known as "The Festival of Lights" is celebrated with many oil lamps. This is to thank the gods for happiness, knowledge, peace and wealth.

Event: Penang Bridge Marathon Date: 17th November

Location: Second Penang Bridge

The Penang International Marathon has been held ever year since 1985. Covering 13.5km across one of South East Asia's longest bridges it attracts over 34,000 participants.

December Events in Penang

Event: Jazz Festival Date: 5th- 8th December

Location: Batu Ferringhi

International & national jazz musicians come to play at many establishments. The main venue is usually at the Bayview Beach Resort.

Event: Christmas Eve parties Date: 24th December

Location: Penang Road

Live bands and dance shows line the area along with a host of lights and christmas decorations.

Event: New Year Countdown Date: 31st December

Location: See below

A New Year countdown is held every year at Esplanade Penang, Queensbay Mall and Penang Pesta. Live bands play along with many performances as the countdown to the New Year is marked in celebration. A huge fireworks display is then held for all to enjoy.

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