Malaysia celebrates its colorful cultural heritage

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- From festivals that celebrate its rich multiethnic heritage to sporting events, Malaysia aims to offer something for just about everyone this year.

Visitors might want to time their vacations to coincide with one of the following events:

  • Feb. 6 to 18. Le Tour de Langkawi (Malay Peninsula).
  • Modeled after the Tour de France, this multistage bicycle race attracts participants from around the world.

    The race begins in Pulau Langkawi and travels the length of the Malay Peninsula before culminating in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

    Coinciding with the 1,200-mile race are a number of spectator events, such as street performances, handcraft displays, parades and food vending.

  • March 3 to April 1; Aug. 4 to Sept. 2, and Dec. 1 to 30. Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival (nationwide).
  • Parades, like this one in Penang, will dot Malaysia's cultural calendar this year. Local and international emporiums, designer boutiques and stores will offer discounts that represent considerable savings compared with normal prices, according to the tourism board.

    Highlights of the promotion include Fashion Weeks, with local designers displaying their creations; midnight sales at shopping malls, and discounts on jewelry and electronics equipment.

  • March 16 to 18. Petronas Malaysia F-1 Grand Prix (Sepang International Circuit, Selangor on the Malay Peninsula).
  • Fans of Formula One Racing will be treated to the sport's top drivers, inside one of the circuit's most spectator-friendly venues with panoramic views of the entire racetrack.

  • April 14 to May 13. National Water Festival (nationwide).
  • This annual festival is a water-sports extravaganza, with kayak, canoe and Jet Ski races competing for attention with less-conventional sports, such as "catch the duck" and "log-walking fights."

    The monthlong festival also features cultural performances, music and dance performances.

  • May 26 to June 24. Colors of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).
  • Malaysia celebrates the traditions of its multiethnic population during this monthlong fete.

    The celebration is highlighted by the Colors of Malaysia parade that winds through Kuala Lumpur.

    Ethnic groups from a variety of Malaysia's states display colorful traditional costumes, as customary dances and music are performed.

  • June 1. Penang International Dragon Boat Festival (Penang).
  • Traditional boats bearing ornate dragon figureheads create a profusion of color and noise as they are powered through the waters of Penang's Mengkuang Dam.

    A carnival-like atmosphere pervades the festival as spectators urge on their favorite teams and take part in the victory celebrations.

  • Aug. 17 to Sept. 16. Merdeka Celebration (Kuala Lumpur).
  • A party atmosphere prevails in Merdeka Square as Malaysians celebrate their nationhood.

    Dancers, artists and bands entertain, and the celebration culminates with a fireworks display during the countdown for the raising of the national flag at the stroke of midnight on Sept. 16.

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