Brunei is a country that celebrates its culture and history with a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Whether you’re into religion, sports, or food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this tiny but rich nation. Here are some of the highlights of Brunei’s calendar that you don’t want to miss!

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  • January 1st — Start the year with a bang with “New Year’s Day”! This is when Bruneians go all out with fireworks and parties with their loved ones. The night before (December 31), you can join in the fun with activities like tennis, golf, squash, scuba diving, bowling, kayaking, and windsurfing. How cool is that?
  • January or February — If you love red and gold, you’ll love “Chinese New Year”! This is when the Chinese community celebrates the start of a new lunar cycle with a two-week-long festival. You’ll see family dinners, lion dances, red envelopes, and lots of oranges everywhere. The festival kicks off with a reunion dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year, where families bond over delicious food and exchange blessings. For the next two weeks, they visit their relatives and friends, giving out oranges as a symbol of longevity and good fortune. You’ll also get to taste some of the traditional cookies and dishes that are only made during this time of the year. Yum!
  • January or February — If you’re curious about Islam, you’ll want to check out “Mohammed’s Birthday”. This is when Muslims honor the birth of their prophet with religious rallies all over the country. You’ll hear them recite hymns and verses from the Koran at mosques and listen to Muslim scholars give talks. In Brunei, this event is called the Mauludin Nabi S.A.W. and it’s a big deal. The Sultan himself gives a royal speech and leads a procession on foot through the main streets of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city. You’ll also see religious functions, lectures, and other activities happening nationwide to mark this sacred occasion.
  • February 23rd — If you’re a fan of patriotism, you’ll love “National Day”. This is when Bruneians celebrate their independence from Britain, which happened on January 1, 1984. But they stick to tradition and hold the official celebration on February 23 every year. Bruneians prepare for this day two months in advance, practicing their roles in flash card displays and other colorful formations. They also hold mass prayers and read Surah Yaasin at mosques across the country. This is one of the best times to visit Brunei, as the city comes alive with the annual National Day celebrations!

Every year, thousands of people gather in the capital to pay tribute to this day with coordinated marches and mass performances from all walks of life. If you love fireworks, you’ll be amazed by the spectacular show at night, as dazzling fireworks light up the sky, ending the day on a high note. The celebration doesn’t stop there, though. For the next two weeks, you can enjoy outdoor food bazaars that line the streets and parking lots of the capital, offering you a taste of Brunei’s cuisine and culture. What a feast!

  • May 31st — Celebrate the bounty of nature with the “Harvest Festival”! This is a holiday that different ethnic groups in Brunei, such as the Dusun and Murut communities, observe with gratitude and joy. In Dusun tradition, it’s called Adau Gayoh and it’s held on May 1st every year. The padi farmer with the most abundant harvest will host the event, where you can join in the traditional games like the Uwod Yompok (spinning top), and watch the symbolic dances like the Ancayau. You’ll also get to taste the delicious food and drinks made from the rice harvest. In Ibanese culture, the Harvest Festival is known as Gawai and it’s celebrated on June 1st every year. This is when Ibanese families share their homemade rice wine with their neighbors and guests, as a way of honoring the cultural festival. It’s considered a good sign if the rice wine runs out before the end of Gawai. Sounds like a fun party, right?
  • May 31st — Salute the heroes of the nation with the “Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day”! This is when Bruneians commemorate the formation of their military forces. The occasion is marked with impressive displays of parades, artillery, parachuting, and exhibitions. You’ll be amazed by the skills and bravery of the soldiers and officers who protect the country.
  • June or July — Welcome the new year with the “First Day of Hijrah”! This is the Muslim New Year, which celebrates the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina. This festival also marks the start of the Islamic calendar, so it doesn’t have a fixed date but usually falls in June or July. You’ll see Muslims gather at mosques and suraus to pray and recite verses from the Koran.
  • July or August — Celebrate the tenth day of the Muslim New Year with the “Maluad”! This is a special day that Muslims observe with prayers and charity.
  • July 15th — Join the biggest birthday bash in the country with the “Sultan’s Birthday”! This is one of the most important events in the national calendar, as Bruneians honor their beloved ruler. The celebration starts with mass prayers throughout the country. Then, the Sultan gives a royal speech and holds an investiture ceremony at the Istana Nurul Iman, his palace. The event also features gatherings at the four districts, where the Sultan meets and greets his people.
  • September 23rd — Appreciate the educators of the nation with the “Teacher’s Day”! This is a day that celebrates and recognizes the contributions of the teachers to the community, religion, and the country. It is held in memory of the late Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Saadul Khairi Waddien, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, who was a great patron of education and religion. On this day, three awards are given to the best teachers: the Meritorious Teacher’s Award, the Outstanding Teacher’s Award, and the “Guru Tua” Award.
  • September 29th — Support the public servants of the nation with the “Public Service Day”! This is a day that aims to promote an efficient, clean, sincere, and honest public service. The Public Service Day also commemorates the adoption of the first written Constitution in Brunei. The day is celebrated with the presentation of the meritorious service award to Ministries and Government Departments.
  • September or October — Witness the spiritual journey of the prophet with the “Me’raj”! This is a day that commemorates the ascension of the Prophet Mohammed to paradise.
  • December 25th — Share the joy of the season with the “Christmas Day”! This is a day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with festive decorations, songs, and gifts. Even many Muslims join in the celebration with family gatherings and presents.
  • Movable — Observe the holy month of fasting with the “Ramadan”! This is a month that Muslims all over the world dedicate to abstaining from food, drink, and other pleasures from dawn to dusk. During this month, Muslims also perform religious activities at mosques and suraus.
  • Movable — Experience the holy month of fasting with the “First Day of the Fasting Month of Ramadan”! This is when Muslims begin their month-long fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, drink, and other pleasures. This is a time of spiritual discipline, reflection, and charity for Muslims.
  • Movable — Celebrate the divine revelation with the “Anniversary of the Revelation of the Koran”! This is when Muslims commemorate the night when the Koran, the holy book of Islam, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. This is a night of prayer, recitation, and worship for Muslims.
  • Movable — Light up the night with the “Panjut Festival” in Kuala Kangsgar! This is when Malays mark the end of the 27th night of the Ramadan, which is considered to be a blessed night. Malays decorate their houses with lanterns and candles, creating a festive and magical atmosphere.
  • Movable — Break the fast with the “Hari Raya AidilFitri” (Eid al-Fitr)! This is when Muslims celebrate the end of the Ramadan with joy and gratitude. It falls on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims start the day with thanksgiving prayers at the mosque and remembrance of their departed loved ones. They also hold open houses for their relatives and friends, giving out presents and money to children and wearing new clothes. Muslims feast on special dishes like satay (beef, chicken or mutton kebabs), ketupat or lontong (rice cakes in coconut or banana leaves), rendang (spicy marinated beef) and other mouth-watering cuisines.

Most shops and restaurants are closed, so people can enjoy quality time with their families and friends. If you’re planning to visit at this time, make sure you dress modestly, covering your arms, toes, and head (for ladies). This is also one of the rare chances to visit His Majesty’s grand palace, Istana Nurul Iman, and meet the Royal Family in person! There’s a long queue to get in, but it’s worth it if you want to see how the Sultan lives. Once inside, men will meet and greet the male members of the Royal Family, including the Sultan, while women will meet the female members of the family, including the Queen.

  • Movable — Honor the sacrifice of the prophet with the “Hari Raya Aidiladha” (Eid al-Adha)! This is also known as Hari Raya Korban, which means the Feast of Sacrifice. Goats, sheep, and cows are slaughtered to commemorate the Islamic historical event of Prophet Ibrahim S.A.W., who was willing to sacrifice his son for God. The meat is then distributed among relatives, friends, and the needy. This festival is held at the end of the Hajj period, when Muslims go on the pilgrimage to Mecca. In the early part of the first day, prayers are held at every mosque in the country. Families also get together to seek forgiveness from their elders and loved ones. You will see Bruneians dressed in their traditional attire visiting relatives and friends.
  • Movable — Witness the spiritual journey of the prophet with the “Maal Hiraj”! This is when Muslims celebrate the first day of the Muslim calendar and the haj, which is the journey of the prophet Muhammad from Medina to Mecca. This is a day of rallies and processions in all the state capitals.

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