8 reasons we’re excited about George Town Festival

George Town Festival, now in its ninth year, is right around the corner and this one’s going to be a crowdpleaser. Mark your calendars because from August 4 – September 2, daily activities that showcase the talent and creativity of the region will be taking place.

There are dozens of venues for the varied and unique events – from traditional auditoriums like Dewan Sri Pinang to shophouse walls, corner cafés, cathedrals, and more. Thanks to its vibrant architecture, narrow alleyways, and friendly locals found in every corner, George Town’s city streets are some of the most atmospheric and welcoming making them the perfect stage for highly acclaimed acts. 

Read also: Island style: Penang hits the sweet spot

Every year, this visual spectacle features a blend of local and international performances, acts, and exhibitions. The hugely diverse line-up, encompassing everything from visual art, dance, music, theatre, and film ensures that there is something for everyone.

This 2018, avid followers and first-timers alike won’t be disappointed. They have attracted over a million attendees (1,365,937 to be exact!) classifying this festival as a major arts event not to be missed not just in Penang, Malaysia but in Asia as a whole. 

Here’s what to expect from their opening weekend:

#1 SeaShorts Film Festival

What: An annual short film festival which consists of a competition, film screenings, workshops, forums, and talks that aim to bring all 10 Southeast Asian countries closer together and to instigate dialogue between the neighbouring areas.

When: Various times, August 1–5

Where: Hin Bus Depot & Bangunan U.A.B

#2 Between Tiny Cities 

What: This production is an entertaining blend of two cultures. In Between Tiny Cities, Cambodia and Australia are united by three things: love for hiphop, dance, and the celebration of masculinity.

When: August 4, 3.30pm and 8.30pm; August 5, 8.30pm

Where: Loft 29

#3 Cantamus Dresden: Highlights of European Music

What: The chamber choir, which has its roots in the German city of Dresden, will be performing a sacred ensemble of secular German and European music from the 16th to the 21st Century. This world-class act that has won international awards from all over the globe is not one to be missed.

When: August 4, 3:30pm & 6:30pm

Where: St. George’s Church and The Star Pitt Street

#4 Over Penang 

What: A homecoming exhibition by highly acclaimed photo journalist David ST Loh who has had stints with Star Malaysia, The Reuters and currently, The Malaysian Insight. The installation aims to celebrate the old, the new, and the beautiful mix of heritage and progress that has made Penang the gem that it is.

When: August 4–September 2, 11:00am to 6:00pm

Where: Eastern and Oriental Hotel

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#5 Window Shopping Project 

What: A collaboration with Penang artists and local businesses. The festival organisers have announced a call to artists to submit works of art to be displayed and sold around town.

When: All day, August 4–September 2

Where: Various cafes around George Town

#6 Borneo People: A Photographic Journey

What: Dennis Lau, a photographer of Chinese-Melanau descent, showcases Sarawak’s native peoples in this exhibition.

When: August 4–19, 10am–5pm

Where: Black Kettle

#7 Special Screening of First They Killed My Father 

What: If you haven’t seen this Netflix flick directed by Angelina Jolie which depicts the heartbreaking realities of the Communist Khmer Rouge regime, then now’s your chance to catch this historical thriller.

When: August 5

Where: Bangunan U.A.B.

#8 Yaron Kohlberg Featuring Ciaran Mcauley & Penang Philharmonic Orchestra 

What: This one’s on the second week but we’re particularly excited about the Israeli “pianist with the golden hands” and the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ciaran Mcauley from Ireland performing classical tunes by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Grieg.

When: August 10–11, 8.30pm

Where: Dewan Sri Pinang

Believe it or not, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, see full list of programmes here.

Read also: On The Road: A Penang Food Guide for the Hungry Nomad

Image credits: georgetownfestival.com

Christelle Torres

She starts her mornings sipping americano while thinking about when she'll be reunited with the ocean. You'll probably find her rapping to old school R&B, channeling Martha Stewart, catching sunsets or schooling herself on all things pop culture.

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