Festivals in Sabah - Lifestyle and Cultural Experience Like No Other

The best time to visit and experience the Sabah would be via festivals in Sabah. There is nothing like visiting a new place during festival time in order to enjoy the grand celebrations unfolds before your very eyes.

This is the perfect way for you to absorb the wonderful culture that seeps through that very place you are visiting.


In this case, Sabah is the best travel destination for all that because you will be able to enjoy a vast array of festivals at any one time in the year.


We showcase the best of festivals in Sabah in this guide which will give you a good idea of when to arrange your holiday plans with a bit of insider fun. Let's begin this cultural journey!


Kaamatan Harvest Festival

Kaamatan Harvest Festival
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If you ever want to go travelling in May, you should stop by and enjoy a bit of the Kaamatan harvest festival which is traditionally held in the first week of that month.

The people of Sabah believe that rice was a gift from their God who sacrificed his daughter for that purpose.

Thus, every year, Sabahans go through the Magavau ritual in order to invite the spirit of Bambaazon to attend the festival.

The Kaamatan harvest festival is definitely a feast for the eyes as you immerse yourself in a little bit of local culture. Hey, you'll even get to witness the traditional Sumazau dance!

Festival of Coconuts

Coconut Festival
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A festival which is not very well known and yet is special is the Festival of Coconuts.

In your area, coconuts might not be a staple or even yet, it might be an extreme rarity.

However, if you live in coastal areas, the coconut is your best friend. They don't call the coconut the tree of a thousand uses for nothing.

Everything from its trunk to the husk can be used for something! As such, nothing goes to waste.

There are many activities coconut-related which are held during this festival so look out for loads of fun.

Sago and Maize Festival

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You might notice by now that agriculture is a huge business in Sabah. This is because the industry practically drives the state forward.

As such, you would not be surprised that they have many festivals in Sabah which highlight their gratefulness for the food which helps boost their economy.

This is the reason why the Sago Festival (or locally known as Pesta Rumbia) and Maize Festival (aka Pesta Jagung) are huge events within their own community.

Various activities and games are held to commemorate the Sago and Maize festival.

However, these festivals are also local to the area where the crops are grown so you might not necessarily find them within the state's capital.

Regatta Lepa Semporna, Sabah Dragon Boat Festival Race or Kiulu 4M Challenge

Dragon Boat Festival
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For a splashing good time, you shouldn't miss out on Regatta Lepa Semporna, Sabah Dragon Boat Festival Race or Kiulu 4M Challenge.

The former is actually born out of the tradition of the "lepa" boatmakers in Semporna which is on the eastern shores of the state.

There will be races and other activities - all held with those intricate and beautifully made boats.

Meanwhile, the Sabah Dragon Boat Festival Race is an annual event which actually attracts many international players.

Therefore, you get to enjoy this local competition with a bit of international flavour.

For something a little more challenging, go for the Kiulu 4M Challenge. It is definitely not for the fainthearted but is an exciting race to watch as well.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year
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The Chinese people are the largest non-indigenous race living in Sabah. Their new year is normally held between January and February every year.

While this is also celebrated in Peninsula Malaysia, the festivities held in Sabah are different and rather special.

For a little bit more exposure to local culture, why not stay on for the Sabah Festival held between April and May.

Here, you will get a piece of everything Sabah related and find out more about how this multicultural society is able to live peacefully together.

Other Festivals

Other Sabah Festival
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Other festivals in Sabah which allow locals to embrace other people's cultures are Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Diwali and also Christmas.

Muslims celebrate Eid after one month of fasting during Ramadan.

Hindus light up Diwali with their oil lanterns and beautiful patterns made up of coloured rice while Christians celebrate the birth of Christ with carols and Christmas trees.

Yes, festivals in Sabah are definitely a sight to behold and will enhance your holiday there for sure.



More about Festivals in Sabah

  • Pesta Rumbia
  • Tamu Besar Kota Belud
  • Kiulu 4M Challenge
  • Kinabalu International Climbathon
  • Sumazau Dance


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