At various times throughout the year, the usual peace and tranquillity of Langkawi is abandoned in favour of vibrant celebrations of sport, culture, art, religion, and food, with a range exciting festivals and events. Iconic annual sports events include the gruelling Ironman Malaysia Triathlon held in February, the wonderful Royal Langkawi International Regatta in January, and Le Tour de Langkawi, taking place in April. This is also around the time of year when the main island is taken over by the Langkawi Water Festival, featuring kayak races, sandcastle-building, fishing, treasure hunts, and more. Art is celebrated at Langkawi Art Biennale, a non-annual art festival, held sporadically every several years, with each event focusing on a different theme through the work of artists from all over the world. Whatever your interests are, check the Langkawi calendar to discover a thrilling event to partake in or cheer on competitors from the sidelines.
Every January, local and international sailors compete in various races at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta. The six-day event is organised by and held at, the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club in Kuah. Since its beginnings in 2002, the regatta has built up a reputation as a key event on the Asian yachting calendar. Over six days, competitors partake in an array of challenging and fun races for all classes. There are various trophies up for grabs, including the Prime Ministers’ Challenge Trophy and the Commodore’s Challenge Cup, with several classes including Cruising, Racing, and IRC classes. All participating teams vote for the best team in terms of comradeship and fair racing to be awarded the Tunku Abdullah Sportsmanship Award, named after the founding chairman of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. Throughout the event, entrants also enjoy social events such as dinners, as well as awards presentations and the closing ceremony.
Since the first event back in 1996, Le Tour de Langkawi has grown to become the largest cycling competition in Malaysia and is now proud to be recognised as Asia’s biggest race. It is named after Langkawi, as this is where the original race started and finished, however, it now includes several lovely destinations across the country. Le Tour de Langkawi was the brain child of Malaysia’s Prime Minister, and it is organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. Every year in March or April, more than 100 riders from over 20 teams from all around the globe flock to Malaysia to take part. The exciting race consists of eight stages across 1,240KM, beginning in Kuala Lumpur. Cyclists then make their way along the scenic west coast of Peninsula Malaysia, with the final two stages occurring on Langkawi’s main island, ending in Kuah.
Every year in October or November, skilled triathletes from various countries around the world gather in Langkawi to compete in Ironman Malaysia. Whilst Langkawi provides a stunning backdrop for the challenging event, it is regarded as one of the most difficult ironman circuits in the world, partially because of the intense heat and humidity at this time of year. Athletes are advised to adjust to training in these harsh conditions.
The course begins with an ocean swim in the glimmering Andaman Sea. Setting off from Pantai Kok Beach with a staggered start, competitors complete two laps of the triangle out and back course. The bay is sheltered, so the current isn’t too much of an issue, and flags on the beach prevent swimmers from going off-course. Next, it's on to the two-loop clockwise bike course. Contestants leave Pantai Kok behind and head for the rolling hills of Datai, just skimming the edge of Kuah Town. A combination of small and steep hills provide challenging terrain, however, cyclists are treated to magnificent views of mountains, beaches, villages, and paddy fields. Finally, the 2.5 lap running course takes participants past the airport, along a mostly flat course. The race ends at beautiful Pantai Cenang Beach.
If you're a triathlete looking for your next challenge, Ironman Malaysia promises to be just that, along with the opportunity to swim, cycle, and run in a gorgeous part of the world. If it’s not for you, cheering on competitors from the sidelines can be just as exciting.
More than just an art exhibition, Langkawi Art Biennale is an international celebration of a diverse array of artwork. Over 100 local and international artists from a wide range of countries flock to Langkawi to present their incredible visual art, sculpture, installation art, video art and performing art. Each event has an all-encompassing theme which all of the artwork is based on. At the very first biennale, back in 2014, the theme was migration, to reflect a highly globalised world where it’s easier than ever to seamlessly move across borders. The event was organised by ArtMalaysia Association and was designed with the aim of transforming Langkawi into a premier art destination.
In 2016, artists immersed themselves in the theme of exploration. This event included a category of cultural dress and costumes, in which artists were invited to exhibit their cultural and heritage clothing.
At the next event in 2020, artists will present work on the theme of environment and culture, exploring how humans are responding to environmental changes, and how this affects our culture. Participants will fall into several categories including contemporary, coloured pencil art, installation art, and sculptors.
Each event has been held in a different month of the year, with the 2020 biennale scheduled to take place in March. Whilst the first event was spread across ten days, the second lasted for eight, and the 2020 biennale will last for seven days. The venue has also changed at each event, moving from one wonderful Langkawi location to another.