It may surprise some to know that in Malay-majority Malaysia, about 55% of the population in KL is of Malaysian-Chinese descent. That only proves how versatile and varied the population is, and the amount of religious celebrations that go on in the city. Indeed, you'll get a much richer experience from Kuala Lumpur if you coincided your trip with some or any of the following festivals and religious celebrations.
Hari Raya Puasa (January/February)
A celebration that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, this is a special day for Muslims. Once the first moon of the month of Syawal is sighted by religious elders in the late evening, the festivities begin the following day. Early prayers at the mosque followed by a graveyard visit to departed loved ones and then finally, the food fest. Hari Raya Puasa is a good time to sample Malay pastries and sweets. It usually occurs around the same period as Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year (January/February)
The preparation for this all-important day for Chinese all over the world actually begins long before the day of celebration itself. Crowds of shoppers can be seen picking out delicacies, oranges (a symbol of luck) and flowers. Chinese New Year falls either in January or February, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar. It is resplendent in KL's Petaling Street, but if you're in Penang - that's the real place to see the action unfold.
Kuala Lumpur City Day (1 February)
A national holiday commemorating the declaration of Federal Territory of Malaysia, City Day is celebrated at Kuala Lumpur's Lake Gardens and Titiwangsa Lake with lots of festivities and fun for everyone.
Thaipusam (late January/early February)
Thaipusam is a day of consercration to the Hindu deity, Lord Murugan. Kavadis, a frame decorated with fresh flowers and fruits carried on the backs of devotees as a form of penance, the weight supported by piercing the flesh with thick needles, are an important part of the celebrations. Hindus carrying the kavadi make a pilgrimage to the Batu Caves and climb up the 272 steps to the entrance of the cave. Thaipusam is a grand affair not to be missed.
Malaysia Megasale Carnival (March/August/December)
This month-long nation-wide carnival is the best time to pick up great bargains from your favourite malls. Shoppers throng to major malls such Suria KLCC and Mid Valley Megamall even though the sale is repeated later in the year in August and December.
Vesak/Wesak Day (May 25)
For Buddhists, an important day that marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Throughout the country, Buddhist monks gather in temples to release doves.
Floral Festival (July)
An opportunity to deck out in the glorious colours of nature, malls, homes, public places are decorated with flowers fake and real, and the entire city literally goes into bloom.
Malaysia Fest (September)
Malaysia Fest, or Pesta Malaysia, is a two-week festival aimed to create aware of Malaysian culture, craft and cuisine. All thirteen states participate in this annual event, which is held in Kuala Lumpur. Cultural shows, local handicrafts and the cuisine of all the states are a few things visitors can look forward to.
Mooncake Festival/Mid Autumn Festival (September)
The Chinese Mooncake Festival is celebrated to commemorate the defeat of Mongols during the end of Yuan Dynasty (120 G-1341 AD) in China. Children, adults and the elderly bring out their lanterns at night and walk through the streets. Mooncakes, round pastries filled with red or green bean paste, are also available in abundance in this time.
Deepavali/Diwali (late October/early November)
Also known as 'The Festival of Lights', Deepavali is celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu calendar. Oil lamps - and candles, in recent times - are lit up in the homes of Hindus to signify the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.
Christmas (25 December)
The spirit of Christmas is very much alive in Malaysia, especially in departmental stores, hotels and the homes of Christians. Mass is held in churches all over Kuala Lumpur for the city's Christian residents.