Festivals and Events
With a population consisting of ethnic tribes, each with their own distinct customs and traditions, Borneo has a surprisingly vibrant calendar of events and here's our guide to the best of them.
Chinese New Year
Those of Chinese descent make up almost a third of the population of Sawarak which means Chinese New Year is celebrated with colourful festivities and performances across Borneo though particularly in Kuching.
Known locally as Gawai Dayak, this festival is celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak to usher in a successful harvest. It is one of the most important celebrations for Borneo's indigenous cultures with performances of traditional music and dance.
Miri Jazz Festival
Jazz musicians from across Borneo and the rest of the world descend on the city of Miri in the north of Sarawak for this two-day festivals of live performances. Also referred to as the Borneo Jazz Festival
, the event attracts a variety of styles under the jazz umbrella including Cuban percussion and funk.
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Rainforest Music Festival
Held just outside of Kuching each year, this three-day event is one of the largest music festivals in Southeast Asia and features international musicians showcasing traditional instruments and styles of music. The Rainforest Music Festival
takes place in July/August with workshops, cultural demonstrations and live music attracting thousands of people.
Borneo Cultural Festival
Held every year in the city of Sibu, this is one of Borneo's longest events with a 10-day programme of traditional music, contests, a beauty pageant and plenty of food. The town's main square hosts three stages that Sarawak's indigenous culture.
Borneo Arts Festival
The island of Labuan, situated between Brunei and Sabah, hosts this annual festival that celebrates the arts with traditional and progressive music, dance performances, and even shows focusing on tattoos and fire-eating. The event takes place over three days in August.
Borneo International Kite Festival
Now in its 12th year, this fun and colourful festival is quickly gaining popularity as hundreds gather to fly beautiful kites over the wide expanse of the Old Bintulu Airport. World records have been broken at this event with 400 kiters from 25 countries usually participating.