EasyUni logo



Exploring Festivals and Events for International Students in Malaysia

May 29, 2024


festivals and events

The diversity of Malaysian cultures makes Malaysia not only a paradise for food enthusiasts, but also one of the few countries boasting hundreds of celebrations and festivals all-year round. 

Universities in the country play a vital role in being the hubs of cultural exchange and celebration, in addition to being centers of academic excellence. 

If you are studying in Malaysia, or planning to, do not pass up the opportunity to explore festivals and events that foster cultural exchange, enhance education experience and promote inclusivity. 

Let’s explore the exciting festivals and events for international students at universities in Malaysia.

What are the types of festivals and events that are commonly held at universities in Malaysia?

What's interesting about universities in Malaysia is that they organize festivals and events that invite all students to take part, including international students.

Here are five common events that take place in the higher institutions in Malaysia

1. Cultural festivals 

At university cultural festivals, various Malaysian cultures and traditions are celebrated. Typically, these events include traditional attire, food vendors, music, and dance performances. 

You'll have the opportunity to participate in various activities, such as traditional games, batik painting, and crafts workshops. 

These events offer a chance to develop cross-cultural skills and serve as an escape from academic pressures. 

They're a great way to relieve stress and enjoy cultural experiences. Some of these cultural festivals and activities may be free, while others may require registration fees depending on the activities organized. 

So don't forget to bring your friends along to enjoy the excitement together!

2. Sports festival 

festivals and events

Universities in Malaysia organize sports festivals annually, providing students with opportunities to showcase their athletic abilities and engage in friendly competition among peers.

These festivals feature a diverse range of sports, including popular ones like soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and even tug-of-war. During these events, you'll witness a strong sense of camaraderie among classmates, whether local or international. 

They enthusiastically support players from their respective departments. This unity transcends personal acquaintance; students unite behind their departmental representatives or friends from other departments, fostering a spirit of teamwork and mutual encouragement.

Aside from promoting a healthy lifestyle and teamwork, these festivals also offer opportunities for international students to explore traditional sports like sepak takraw or petanque. 

These activities not only require physical prowess and teamwork but also serve as avenues for cultural exchange and appreciation of local sports.

3. International food festivals

As people often say, food is a universal language. Universities and colleges in Malaysia celebrate the culinary diversity of the world through international food festivals.

These festivals offer students a unique experience, allowing them to indulge in an assortment of flavors, aromas, and textures from around the globe.

They feature a tantalizing array of cuisines, ranging from Malaysian traditional kuih and Asian favorites like Thai Tom Yum to Middle Eastern classics like Mandy Chicken Rice, Baklava, spiced tea, and more.

4. Language and cultural exchange programs 

With over 130 living languages spoken in Malaysia, multilingualism is a source of pride and strength for its people.

Therefore, you won’t want to overlook the language and cultural exchange programs offered by universities in Malaysia, which go beyond traditional language classes.

Students have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of global diversity and enhance their language skills through participation in exchange activities, interactive sessions, and cultural demonstrations.

Typically, these programs enable immersive experiences and meaningful cross-cultural interactions by pairing international students with local counterparts.

This enables students to cultivate an appreciation for diverse perspectives and foster a more inclusive and globally-minded campus community.

Also read: Language and Communication Tips for International Students Studying in Malaysia

5. Talent shows 

festivals and events

Talent shows in institutions in Malaysia are a live exhibition of the diverse talents that exist within the university community.

Students from different cultural backgrounds come together to perform music, dance, poetry, comedy, theater and other forms of creative expressions. 

These events provide a platform for students to express themselves, build confidence and bond with their peers. 

By participating in talent shows, they promote the university’s vibrant cultural tapestry and create memorable experiences of campus life. 

What are Malaysia's major festivals and events celebration?

In addition to the festivals and events hosted by universities, there are numerous celebrations to explore beyond campus grounds. 

Many of these festivals are marked by Malaysian holidays, reflecting the nation’s rich cultural tapestry. 

Believe it or not, Malaysia observes approximately 50 public holidays per year, honoring various cultures and religions!

Let’s look into some of the top festivals celebrated in Malaysia.

1. Thaipusam 

Thaipusam is a festival staple to the Tamil Hindu community. Every year, huge crowds witness a 15km chariot procession from Kuala Lumpur up to the amazing Batu Caves. 

In commemoration of victory of good over evil, devotees courageously adorn themselves with enormous spears, hooks and lances on their mouths, cheeks and body parts as an act of devotion to the divine. 

2. Chinese New Year 

festivals and events

Celebrated as one of Malaysia’s prominent festivals, the Chinese New Year spans a full two weeks. 

Streets are transformed into a sea of red and gold, homes undergo meticulous cleaning rituals to banish any trace of negativity, while temples resonate with prayers for abundance and fortune.

You’ll want to be front and center as the sky is alight with spectacular firework displays at night. 

3. Hari Raya Aidilfitri 

With over half of Malaysia’s population being Muslim, Hari Raya Aidilfitri stands as one of Malaysia’s most pivotal and splendid celebrations. 

Marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Hari Raya Aidilfitri ushers in two days brimming with celebration and feasting

Houses and mosques alike are lit up with luminous lights, while lavish feasts featuring an array of Malay cuisines such as lemang, ketupat and sate take center stage. 

It is also a time when the spirit of hospitality shines as most locals host open houses, welcoming everyone to join in the festivities. Trust us, you won’t want to miss this one!

4. Gawai Harvest Festival 

This vibrant harvest festival is celebrated every year in Sarawak in honor of the indigenous Murut, Kayan, Bidayuh and Iban tribes.  

Villages come alive as feasts and open houses welcome guests from far and wide. 

Beauty pageants, known as Kumang and Keling Gawai take center stage, showcasing the exquisite beauty of the traditional attire. It is definitely a moment to remember Malaysia by. 

This festival not only pays homage to Pagan customs, but is also a testament to the boundless warmth and hospitality of the locals. 

5. Rainforest World Music Festival 

Indulge yourself in the exciting atmosphere of Malaysia’s renowned Rainforest World Music Festival, which takes place in the heart of the stunning Sarawak rainforest. 

What makes this festival stand out is its unique fusion of traditional tribal rhythms and the dynamic beats of rock music. 

Whether you’re looking for an exhilarating musical journey or a peaceful getaway, prepare yourself to be immersed in a world where culture, nature, and music all come together in harmony. 

What opportunities do these events provide for networking and socializing?

University cultural events in Malaysia offer invaluable opportunities for networking and socializing, fostering connections among students from diverse backgrounds. 

These events serve as platforms for students to interact, engage, and form meaningful relationships, both within and beyond their immediate social circles.

One of the primary networking opportunities presented by cultural events is the chance to meet and connect with fellow students who share similar cultural interests or backgrounds. 

Whether it's bonding over shared traditions, languages, or cuisines, these events provide common ground for students to build connections and forge friendships.

Moreover, university cultural events often attract a diverse range of participants, including students from different courses and nationalities.

This diversity creates many perspectives and experiences, offering students the chance to broaden their social networks and interact with individuals they might not have otherwise met.

Furthermore, cultural events often extend beyond campus boundaries, offering students the chance to engage with the wider community and establish connections with local organizations, businesses, and cultural institutions. 

Through volunteering, community outreach initiatives, and collaborative projects, students can expand their social networks while making meaningful contributions to society.

In conclusion, as an international student in Malaysia, you will find participating in Malaysia’s events and festivals to be a deeply enriching and unforgettable experience. 

Universities in Malaysia offer various international festivals and events that not only celebrate the nation’s rich heritage, but also provide opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and personal growth.

Beyond campus, Malaysia’s festivals offer further insight into the nation’s cultural fabric, with celebrations that welcome you with open arms.

Kickstart your education in Malaysia

We'll help you find and apply for your dream university


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using this site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions .

Maximum 6 courses for comparison!

Chat on WhatsApp

Courses selected for comparison