As though its mountains, dive sites and natural parks weren’t enticing enough, Kota Kinabalu comes up with unique events and festivals to keep tourists, visitors, and locals excited. The diversity of culture and festivals in Kota Kinabalu proves the unique fusion of generations and traditions in this modern yet traditional Malaysian city. Located in the huge southern Sabah state of Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is the region’s most industrialized and progressive city. Called KK for short, Kota Kinabalu is almost always mentioned with KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city) in significance and attractiveness as a leading tourist destination. Below are the most interesting KK events and festivals.
Top of the list is the KK Jazz Festival, which is annually held by the Society of Performing Arts and Rotary Club. This musical event began in 2007 and has since then featured international jazz artists from the United States, England, Korea, and Hong Kong, attracting thousands of people every year. This 2-day event takes place at different venues, which has included the scenic Sutera Harbor Marina Club. The main objective of the KK Jazz Festival is to promote the love for this cool music genre and the equally lovely city of Kota Kinabalu. The festival offers workshops and performances, as well as opportunities for budding jazz artists to show what they are made of.
Another important event is the Sabah Festival, which happens annually at the beginning of March. The idea is to showcase Sabah’s exotic local cultures and traditions. Sabah is one of the 13 member-states of Malaysia and the second biggest of these states. Kota Kinabalu is the capital city. The people of Sabah, specifically residents of KK are mostly conservative Muslims, very hospitable and friendly especially to visiting tourists. Through the Sabah Festival, locals get to show off their age-old traditions in the form of local music and dances. Local woodcrafts and handicrafts are also put on display and on sale. Following immediately is the Harvest Festival.
Observed mostly by the Kazdan and Dusun tribes, the Harvest Festival marks the end of the rice harvest season. Rice paddies, production and harvest are of utmost importance to traditional agricultural regions such as Sabah, which makes this festival very important as well. Highlights of this festival include dancing and feasting, as well as yacht and boat races, which began in 1987 courtesy of the Kota Kinabalu Yacht Club.
The fourth much-awaited event celebrates the region’s highest and most popular peak, Mount Kinabalu: the annual festival is called Kinabalu International Climbathon and it happens in August. Mount Kinabalu and the Kinabalu National Park are so popular that the park was considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is home to lush rainforests and thousands of exotic plant and animal species. Thousands of trekkers and mountain climbers scale the more than 4,000-meter high mountain, and needless to say the climbathon to its peak is not for everyone. Only experienced and world-class climbers dare to race to the top of the 4th tallest mountain in the Malay region and 20th tallest in the world.
Finally, one of the most exciting displays of culture and festivals in Kota Kinabalu is the Malaysia Water Festival, which is actually a national event that takes place in different areas in the country at the same time. Taking place annually in April, the water festival celebration in KK involves jet skiing, kayaking, and canoe races.