By Linda Edward

Nov 22 2021

KOTA KINABALU – The 16th edition of the annual Kota Kinabalu Christmas, dubbed KK Christmas, is coming back this year, breaking away from the traditional Padang Merdeka fairy lights and Christmas trees, and enticing spread of goodies at the field.

The annual Christmas festivities was put on hold in 2020 to comply with the SOP restrictions in place when the nation was gripped by COVID-19. The nation’s easing into the 4th phase of the pandemic provides the perfect timing for the return of this uniquely much-talked about celebration in Malaysia.

It will be celebrated as a hybrid event, a live event, complete with a virtual audience to encourage participation and engagement with the event, no matter where they are.

This is in keeping with the organizers’ aim to support the government’s efforts to continue to curb the spread of the coronavirus by limiting physical participation.

The two-day closed-door event will be held at the new Catholic Archdiocesan Centre, Jalan Sang Kancil, Karamunsing with maximum 100 invited guests which includes the organizing team, on Dec 14-15, with full live-streaming via KK Christmas Youtube Channel.

Neil Mah

Neil Mah, KK Christmas adviser to the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) said although it will be held virtually but it is still an opportunity to celebrate Christmas.

“Nothing beats the physical celebration, but this is an opportunity to celebrate Christmas. We are in the recovery phase of the pandemic, and we want to bring the messages of hope, love and joy in the spirit of Christmas back to the community.

He added, the theme for this year’s celebration is “Sharing Hope, Love and Joy” for a better tomorrow.

After a year break in 2020 with no physical or virtual KK Christmas celebration, Mah said it is also an opportunity to sustain close working relationship between Churches and the government, “We have built this partnership since 2005, which we must rekindle.”

The celebration has been jointly organized since 2005 by Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu (DBKK) and the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC), with rotation among the denominations. This year, it falls on the Roman Catholic Church to organize, supported by the Protestant Church in Sabah.

The event will be graced by the Chief Minister of Sabah on the first night Dec 14, which is made up of an ensemble of choral performances and Nativity drama by various Christian groups.

Mah singled out two important contents on the program which highlight the message of Christmas, the main purpose of the celebration.

“On the first night, a Christmas Message video will showcase humanitarian efforts of various Sabah groups going beyond their comfort zone to show love and care to those in need during the pandemic.

“A message that gives hope despite the natural disasters which struck the people in this region.

“The second highlight, being the reflection on the Christmas Message will be delivered by Archbishop John Wong of Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu on the second night,” Mah said.

This year will feature a program that encourages public participation – the Environmental-Friendly Christmas Decoration Contest under three categories: Home, Church and Office. Judging for the winners will be based on the number of Facebook Likes, as well as by juries. All who are interested are advised to go to KK Christmas Facebook page to get more details of the contest.

Another program open for public is the recording of their Christmas greetings to be featured in the live-stream event. Invitation is open for any groups such as teachers, frontliners, private sectors, government sectors, and others, to record a 15-seconds Christmas greeting video. Please go to their Facebook page for more information.

Like previous KK Christmas, the event will select several groups to receive the KK Christmas special charity donation. This year’s chosen groups are, namely the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception (FSIC) Congregation, Penampang Parish and the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI).

The basis of their selection is derived from their efforts of serving the needy affected by the pandemic and the recent flood disaster in Penampang.

Apart from performances by various Christian groups, the two-day event will also feature local artistes to add to the celebration of talents by Elyia Guntabid and Joe Balanjiu Jr.

Over the years, the yearly celebration of KK Christmas has become a fixture in the Sabah Tourism calendar, offering to hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists and KK citizens alike, a place and an event at Padang Merdeka, to witness and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of ‘Christmas in Kota Kinabalu’ with its street caroling, Christmas choirs, fireworks, abundant mouth-watering food and beverages and other celebration-worthy items.

The organizing committee and other relevant government agencies paid a site visit to the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Nov 17

The organizing committee and other relevant government agencies paid a site visit to the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre, this year’s venue for KK Christmas Nov 17 to finalize matters pertaining to technical preparedness, traffic, landscape, protocol, decorations and others.

Please mark your calendar for a date with the first virtual KK Christmas, to be aired live via KK Christmas Youtube Channel from 6.30-10.00 pm.