Kek Lok Si annual CNY lighting ceremony

The Chinese New Year festivities always promise a whole lot of excitement, extravagant decorations, and meaningful reunions in all parts of the world – in Malaysia, this is no different. For Penangites in particular, the festivities will be as vibrant as ever. Every year, the iconic Kek Lok Si temple is light up with thousands of illuminated lanterns and neon lights.

If you weren’t able to witness the spellbinding sight in person before, catch the light displays this year, from now till 17th February 2023, and be entranced by Kek Lok Si’s illuminated beauty.

We recently visited the temple to bring you a glimpse of the beautiful sights you can see there at night, this festive season.

A massive temple of lights

Kek Lok Si Penang - lights

Built more than a decade ago, Kek Lok Si is a grand sight to behold even among a bustling morning market on a usual day. But wait till you see the temple come alive in all its luminescent glory during the Chinese New Year.

Kek Lok Si Penang - lanterns

Here at the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, an annual lighting ceremony and fireworks display takes place annually to ring in the Lunar New Year. This is a key cultural highlight in Penang during the bai nian celebrations.

Kek Lok Si Penang - fireworks

This year’s ceremony will take place from 17th January till 18th February, from 7pm to 12am. It is one of the main attractions to usher in the Year of the Rabbit in Penang.

Spanning 10 acres of land, the temple grounds houses monasteries, prayer halls, temples, magnificent statues, beautiful gardens and a fish pond – all of which emanate vibrant colours from neon lights and LEDs in celebration of the new year.

Kek Lok Si Penang - more lanterns

Revel at the “canopy” of luminous lanterns overhead, like red and gold lights floating across the black canvas of the night sky.

Kek Lok Si Penang - road

It requires a bit of a walk to cover every attraction within the vast grounds of Kek Lok Si temple. But you’ll be treated with a visual feast every step of the way – think ethereal lanterns criss-crossing above the roads, draping fairy lights that embellish trees, and bushes pulsing with bioluminescent lights. We thought it looked like something out of a fantasy tale or Mulan.

Kek Lok Si - kuan Yin

The star of the enchanting temple has got to be the 36.57m-tall bronze statue of Guanyin or Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Located at the highest peak of the temple, the 130-year-old monastery housing the statue is a divinely majestic sight that glows and gleams with celestial-like beauty. 

Kek Lok Si Temple - lights

Celebrate CNY at Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Penang - day

Kek Lok Si in Penang is open to the public, and there is no need to pay a fee of any sort to enter the garden where the lights are on display. This Chinese New Year, pay a visit to this surreally beautiful temple shining in all of its glory to usher in the Year of the Rabbit.

Address: 1000-L, Tingkat Lembah Ria 1, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

Read more interesting features of places here: 

Photography by Jia-Ju 

Cover image adapted from: TheSmartLocal Malaysia

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