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Published on November 29, 2017

Natives of Sabah. Lim Sheng Haw/Sabah Tourism.

The month of May is traditionally regarded in the Malaysian state of Sabah as the season for Pesta Kaamatan – the Kadazandusun harvest festival – bookended by the Tadau Kaamatan at the end, and the Sabah Fest at its beginning.

From May 5 to 7, Sabahans celebrate the three-day Sabah Fest as a showcase of Sabah’s diverse cultural treasures. The celebrations are commonly tied together with a common theme – from Mount Kinabalu’s cultural significance in 2014, to 2015’s cave-themed celebrations in honor of Sandakan’s River People, to 2016’s tribute to legendary warrior Mat Salleh.

The sideshows around the main event focus on different aspects of Kadazan-Dusun and Sabahan culture: exhibits on local food and handicrafts supplement “pocket shows” of dance and theater on the grounds outside the auditorium. The main event, held at the 500-seat JKKN Sabah complex auditorium over three days, ties the Sabah Fest together in a whiz-bang cultural show.

The Sabah Fest is organized by the Sabah Tourism Board and Sri Pelancongan Sabah. For tickets and more information, contact Zachary Mobijohn +60 88 232 121 or, or visit the official website at

Sabah Fest dance performance. David Kirkland/Sabah Tourism, used with permission.

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For other festivals that celebrate a bountiful harvest, visit Brunei’s Fruit Festival; Cambodia’s Paddy Art Festival; and the Philippines’ Panagbenga and Kadayawan Festival. For other festivals in the month of May, visit Laos’ Boun Bang Fai and the related Yasothon Bun Bangfai Festival in Thailand; and Vietnam’s Hoi An Lantern Festival.