April 19, 2024
10 min read

Everything You Need to Know About Sepilok Jazz

Discover the vibrant Sepilok Jazz Festival! Explore music, local culture, and Sepilok’s natural wonders in our comprehensive guide.
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July 17, 2024


Sepilok Jazz is an annual music festival that combines the joy of jazz music with the stunning natural backdrop of Sandakan, Malaysia. Held at the Mango Garden Restaurant in Sepilok, this festival draws jazz enthusiasts and nature lovers who seek a unique musical experience amid lush greenery. If you're interested in live jazz, local talents, and a serene environment, this festival is tailored for you.

Here’s what you need to know:- Location: Mango Garden Restaurant, Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia- Highlights: Performances by local jazz artists like Appy Tots, WanG, and Sonny B & The No. 1s- Extra Activities: Opportunities to explore nearby attractions like the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre

This festival not only showcases local jazz talents but also supports the community and promotes the conservation of the natural beauty of Borneo. Sepilok Jazz offers a soothing escape by integrating soulful music with the calls of nature.

Detailed infographic of Sepilok Jazz Festival including dates, list of artists, and nearby attractions - sepilok jazz infographic infographic-line-3-steps

The Essence of Sepilok Jazz Festival

The Sepilok Jazz Festival is more than just a musical event; it's a celebration of rhythm, nature, and community spirit. Set in the enchanting surroundings of Sandakan, Malaysia, this festival brings together a unique blend of local talent, serene natural landscapes, and the vibrant sounds of jazz.


At the heart of the Sepilok Jazz Festival is the music. The festival features a lineup of local jazz musicians who bring the stage to life with their performances. From the soulful tunes of Appy Tots with his guitar to the mesmerizing saxophone melodies of WanG, and the dynamic rhythms of Sonny B & The No. 1s, each artist adds a unique flavor to the festival. The music here is not just heard; it's experienced, resonating through the lush greenery of Sepilok.


What sets the Sepilok Jazz Festival apart is its stunning natural setting. Held at the Mango Garden Restaurant, the festival is surrounded by the rich biodiversity of Borneo. Attendees not only get to enjoy jazz but also the tranquility of nature. The nearby attractions like the Rainforest Discovery Centre and the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre offer festival-goers a chance to connect with nature and witness the region's wildlife conservation efforts.

Local Talent

The festival is a platform for local talents to shine. It celebrates the cultural richness of Sabah by showcasing homegrown artists and musicians. This focus on local talent helps nurture the music scene in Borneo and encourages young artists to preserve and promote jazz among the local communities.

This combination of soul-touching music, breathtaking nature, and vibrant local culture makes the Sepilok Jazz Festival a must-visit event for anyone looking to experience the true essence of Sabah, Malaysia. Whether you're a jazz enthusiast or a nature lover, the festival offers something for everyone, making it a perfect blend of auditory and visual delights.

Highlights from Past Sepilok Jazz Festivals

Appy Tots

At previous Sepilok Jazz Festivals, Appy Tots has been a standout performer. Known for his soulful blend of RnB, Blues, and Jazz, Appy Tots brings a unique sound that resonates well with the audience. His ability to perform across various genres makes each of his shows fresh and exciting. His EP album "Happy Thoughts" was a hit in Kota Kinabalu, selling 650 copies independently, showcasing his popularity and the appeal of his music at the festival.


WanG, a talented saxophonist, has been actively playing since 2019 and has quickly become a local favorite. His performances at the festival are noted for their melodious saxophone tunes that beautifully complement the natural backdrop of Sepilok. WanG has represented Sabah in various music competitions and his experience adds a high level of professionalism and entertainment to the festival lineup.

Sonny B & The No. 1s

Sonny B & The No. 1s bring a dynamic mix of Blues, Jazz, Soul, and Rock to the Sepilok Jazz Festival. Known for their energetic performances, they create an engaging atmosphere that gets everyone moving. Sonny B, often seen as a sidekick to the stars, has gathered a group of eclectic musicians, making their performances a highlight of the festival. Their unique Bornean Blues Jazz experience is a crowd-puller and a must-see at the festival.

Each of these artists brings their unique flair to the festival, contributing to its growing reputation as a premier event in Sandakan. The combination of local talents and the serene setting of the Mango Garden Restaurant creates a memorable experience for all attendees. The presence of these artists not only entertains but also plays a crucial role in promoting local music and culture, making the Sepilok Jazz Festival a key event in Sabah's cultural calendar.

Venue Spotlight: Mango Garden Restaurant


The Mango Garden Restaurant, the chosen venue for the Sepilok Jazz Festival, offers a vibrant and welcoming ambiance that perfectly complements the essence of the event. The restaurant is designed to blend seamlessly with the lush surroundings of Sepilok, creating a relaxing environment where music lovers can enjoy the performances. With its open-air setup, attendees are treated to a natural backdrop of tropical greenery, enhancing the overall sensory experience. The gentle rustling of leaves and the occasional call of native birds add an authentic touch to the jazz performances, making it a truly immersive event.


Located in the heart of Sepilok, the Mango Garden Restaurant is ideally situated near several of Sabah’s key conservation areas, including the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Borneo Sunbear Conservation Center. This proximity to nature’s wonders makes the restaurant not just a venue for music but also a gateway to exploring the rich biodiversity of the region. Its location is easily accessible from Sandakan, providing festival-goers with a straightforward journey via road or air, as Sandakan Airport is just a short drive away.

The Mango Garden Restaurant not only serves as a venue but also as a symbol of the festival's commitment to harmony between culture and nature. Its strategic location and enchanting ambiance ensure that every attendee leaves with not just musical memories but also a deeper appreciation of Sepilok’s natural beauty.

The upcoming section will delve into the natural attractions surrounding Sepilok, enhancing your understanding of what makes this area truly special for both conservation and cultural experiences.

Exploring Sepilok's Natural Attractions

Sepilok is not just about jazz. It's a gateway to some of the most fascinating natural attractions in Malaysia. Here, you can connect with nature and witness conservation efforts at places like the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, and the Borneo Sunbear Conservation Center.

Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC)

What is it?
The RDC is an environmental education hub set within the lush Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about and experience the biodiversity of Borneo's rainforests.

What to do?
- Canopy Walk: Elevate yourself on a walkway among the treetops for a bird's eye view of the forest.- Plant Discovery Garden: Explore the garden that houses a variety of native plant species.- Birdwatching: Bring your binoculars to spot some of the 250 bird species that call this rainforest home.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

What is it?
This centre is a refuge for orphaned and injured orangutans, providing them with care and rehabilitation with the goal of returning them to the wild. It's one of the most renowned orangutan sanctuaries in the world.

What to see?
- Feeding Time: Watch as young and adult orangutans are fed.- Nursery Area: Observe baby orangutans learning to climb and play.- Educational Videos: Learn about the challenges orangutans face and the conservation efforts in place.

Borneo Sunbear Conservation Center

What is it?
The center is dedicated to the welfare of the sunbear, the world's smallest bear species. It focuses on conservation, welfare, and education about this often-overlooked bear.

Activities to enjoy:- Viewing Platforms: Get up close to observe the sunbears as they roam, climb, and play.- Educational Talks: Gain insights into the lives of sunbears and the threats they face in the wild.

Each of these attractions offers a unique window into the natural world and highlights the importance of conservation efforts in Borneo. They provide a perfect complement to the musical experience of the Sepilok Jazz Festival, making your visit both enriching and inspiring. As you plan your trip, consider these natural wonders not just as side activities but as integral parts of the Sepilok experience.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sepilok Jazz

What can attendees expect at the Sepilok Jazz Festival?

Attendees can look forward to a vibrant mix of local jazz performances set in the lush backdrop of Sepilok. The festival, typically held at the Mango Garden Restaurant, features a lineup of talented local artists such as Appy Tots, WanG, and Sonny B & The No. 1s. Beyond music, the festival offers a chance to unwind in a relaxed setting, surrounded by nature and fellow music enthusiasts. Expect an evening filled with soulful melodies, where music and nature blend seamlessly.

How does Sepilok Jazz contribute to local culture and conservation?

Sepilok Jazz plays a vital role in promoting local culture and supporting conservation efforts. By showcasing homegrown talents, the festival nurtures the local music scene and provides artists with a platform to reach a broader audience. Additionally, the presence of notable figures like the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture highlights the festival's potential in boosting cultural tourism. This not only brings attention to the region's musical heritage but also to its conservation projects, such as the nearby Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Borneo Sunbear Conservation Center. The festival encourages visitors to explore these initiatives, fostering a deeper appreciation and support for wildlife conservation.

What are the best times and tips for visiting the Sepilok Jazz Festival?

The best time to visit the Sepilok Jazz Festival is during its annual occurrence, usually detailed on the festival's official social media pages. To fully enjoy the event, it is advisable to arrive early to secure a good spot near the stage. Considering the tropical climate of Borneo, wearing comfortable clothing and bringing insect repellent is recommended. For those interested in exploring more of Sepilok, planning an extended stay would allow visits to the nearby conservation centers and natural attractions. Booking accommodations in advance, such as at Nature Lodge Kinabatangan, ensures a comfortable and hassle-free experience.

By integrating these enriching activities with the musical festivities, visitors are guaranteed a holistic and unforgettable experience at Sepilok.


As we reflect on the vibrant atmosphere and enriching experiences of the Sepilok Jazz Festival, it's clear that this event is more than just a musical gathering. It's a celebration of culture, nature, and community spirit, deeply rooted in the heart of Sandakan, Malaysia.

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan stands out as a pivotal part of this experience. Offering cozy accommodations amidst the lush Borneo rainforest, it provides festival-goers with a serene retreat after enjoying the lively jazz performances. The lodge not only enhances the festival experience but also aligns seamlessly with the festival's commitment to nature and conservation.

Looking ahead, the future of Sepilok Jazz is bright. Plans are already underway to expand the festival's lineup and include more interactive experiences that highlight the rich cultural tapestry of Sabah. These future events promise to draw even larger crowds, further establishing Sepilok as a key destination for music and nature lovers worldwide.

The community impact of the festival cannot be overstated. Each year, it brings together artists, conservationists, locals, and tourists, creating a melting pot of ideas and shared passions. This convergence not only boosts local tourism but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the environmental and cultural heritage of the region.

In conclusion, the Sepilok Jazz Festival is more than just an event; it's a catalyst for community development and environmental awareness. Through the continued support of venues like Nature Lodge Kinabatangan and the participation of the community, the festival is set to leave a lasting legacy that resonates well beyond the music. We look forward to seeing how this enchanting event will evolve and continue to charm visitors from around the globe.

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