For with her multi-ethnic society, Penang sees a kaleidoscope of festivals and celebrations which seems to last the entire year.


Chinese New Year is celebrated usually in late January or early February, and it marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar year. Traditionally, on this day, parents would present their children with money, wrapped in an ang pow (red packet). Visiting of friends and family usually occur on the first and second days. A huge family dinner on the fifteenth day of the new year (Chap Goh Meh) marks the end of celebrations.

joss sticks

Chap Goh Meh - Celebrated on the 15th night of the first month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The highlight of the festivity is the 'orange-throwing' ceremony, in which local maidens cast oranges into the sea for would-be suitors to catch.

Thaipusam - a tribute to Lord Subramaniam, the highlight of this Hindu festival is the carrying of kavadis by devotees in order to fulfill their vows. On the first day, a pocession with a chariot containing the statues of Lord Subramaniam and his consorts is led from Sri Mariamman Temple to Waterfall Road Temple.

The Birthday of the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin). Around March and July, worshippers flock to the Goddess of Mercy temple to pay their respects. The Goddess is said to possess the 'milk of human kindness'.

Wesak Day - is the Lord Buddha's birthday, and Buddhist temples are brim full of worshippers and priests. In the evening, there is a street procession of gaily decorated floats, including one with a large illuminated statue of Buddha.

Hari Raya Puasa falls at a different time each year based on the Muslim calendar. This celebration marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. During the period of festivities, Malay houses are gaily lit and decorated. Visits to the mosque for special prayers and later to homes of relatives are a must.

Birthday of HM The Yang Di-pertua Agong On the first Saturday of June, people throughout Malaysia celebrate their Agong's (King's) birthday with parades and festivities.

Saint Anne's Feast is celebrated at the Church of St Anne from 26th to 28th July, with mass and a candlelight procession within the church compound.

Hari Raya Haji is a religious day for Muslims, especially for Hajis who have made their holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

Festival of Nine Emperor Gods is celebrated around the end of October. Devotees go on a 9 day vegetarian diet, at the end of which, a pilgrimage is made up the 1200 steps to the Kew Ong Yeah temple.

National Day The 31st of August is Malaysia's independence day.

Deepavali A festival of lights celebrated by the Hindus, which commemorates the slaying of the evil King Haragesuaran by Lord Krishna.

Christmas Day Celebrated in the same spirit by all Christians, with midnight masses conducted in all churches.