The Langkawi archipelago in Malaysia is so beautiful that UNESCO designated it as a Geopark in 2007. Its idyllic beaches and picturesque mountains are quickly making it a popular tourist destination, especially among Europeans and Arabs. But even if these beautiful natural treasures magically vanished in thin air, tourists might still want to come just to experience the unique culture and festivals in Langkawi.
Langkawi has 97 uninhabited islands, two inhabited ones (Langkawi Island and Pulau Tuba), and five little islands that show up only during low tide. Its people are of different and cultural backgrounds, but most are Muslims, while most of the incoming tourists are Christians. This is truly a unique island with a melting pot society. As a result, the island offers exciting events and festivals throughout the year.
In January, people party until very late in the evening to celebrate New Year’s Day. Unique amongst other Muslim countries, alcohol is allowed in Langkawi. Foreign tourists will find simultaneous parties and celebrations going on from Kuah to Panati Cenang. Kuah is Langkawi’s capital and commercial center.
In February, the most important bicycle race outside Europe, Le Tour de Langkawi, takes place on the island. Top riders from all over Malaysia and other countries compete in the challenging 10-stage race through different terrains.
In April, all sorts of beach and water competitions take place during the Langkawi International Festival that happens alongside the 10-day Langkawi International Festival of Arts. These two events put together an intriguing display of exhibitions and workshops, which include batik crafts and local paintings, as well as fun competitions such as sand-castle building and kayak racing
But the real race happens in May during the Wilderness Langkawi Challenge. Racers and strongmen from all over the world arrive for this yearly stamina race where they race on kayak, mountain bike, and even do hiking, and running.
July is a delicious treat. It is in this month when locals celebrate the Langkawi Food and Fruit Fiesta in which participants serve exotic foods and fruits for free tasting and feasting. Cooking competitions are a staple.
In August, all of Malaysia celebrates the country’s independence. The celebration is called Merdeka. Different sorts of cultural and sporting events happen at the same time, and Langakawi is always host for water-related competitions and cultural fairs.
Also, August is the Muslim Holy Month of fasting. People fast during the day and then feast in the evenings. The Langkawi Ramadan food bazaar takes place at the night market in Kuah where people eat special foods that are not available in other times of the year. After the sun had set, Langkawi turns into a gigantic food bazaar showcasing all kinds of cuisine from all over Asia. Although Ramadan is an important event for Muslims, the celebrations here are open to any religion or race. Non-Muslim tourists are more than welcome to take part in the bazaar and enjoy.
To mark the end of Ramadan, the island celebrates the 2-day-holiday Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, in which people open their doors to friends and visitors for a non-stop banquet.
In November, anglers and fishing enthusiasts arrive at the island of Tukun Perak for the Langkawi International Fishing Tournament. The island’s deep waters are perfect for deep-sea fishing that often runs through the night. Also in November is the Hindu Festival of Lights, which celebrates good triumphing over evil. This event is also called Deepavali (Diwali).
Finally in December are the Langkawi Craft Festival and Langkawi Harvest Festival, in which local folks, non-farmers and tourists are encouraged to join traditional games that have something to do with the annual rice harvest. Visitors are then made to watch how rice is traditionally harvested. These two exciting events top the yearly culture and festivals in Langkawi.