Host of events from July 9 to 24

THE iconic George Town Festival (GTF) in Penang makes its long- anticipated return from July 9 to 24 with over 80 programmes.

Visitors will be treated to an exhilarating mix of visual art, theatre, music, dance, film and photography events at various venues across the city and beyond.

Notably, around 70% of the programmes are free. The remainder are ticketed but would still be 30% to 50% cheaper than similar events elsewhere.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the festival’s longstanding efforts to promote the arts and make it accessible to all since its inaugural edition in 2010, had catapulted the state onto the global arts scene.

CNN Travel dubbed the GTF as “the best of Penang rolled up in one big festival”, while The New York Times described it as “growing into a major Asian arts event”.

“Much of its success stems from its sincere commitment to nurturing homegrown talents and providing them with an international platform, while preserving local culture and heritage,” Chow remarked at a recent press conference at Komtar, George Town.

“This is what gives GTF the soul that so many other festivals strive for,” he added.

State tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the festival helped brand George Town as a creative city, which had a positive impact on tourism and the local economy.

The festival attracted some 300,000 visitors the last time it was held physically in 2019. The 2020 edition was held online due to the pandemic, and took on a hybrid format in 2021.

“However, despite returning to a physical format this year, there will not be big-scale outdoor events. Instead, we are focusing on small- and medium-scale events spread across different venues.

“We wish to remind everyone to practise ‘responsible tourism’ so we can all enjoy the festival safely and comfortably,” Yeoh added.

Festival-goers will get to enjoy concerts beyond the confines of traditional auditoriums.

There are ticketed programmes like “The Senses” at The Habitat Penang Hill’s scenic Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk, and “Mozart at The Mansion” at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

Celebrating South-East Asian heritage are the Teater Tradisional Makyung: Dewa Indera Indera Dewa at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), the Teochew puppet theatre show Ibu at Loft 29 and a George Town Discovery Walk.

Free programmes include “Angin OMbulan” pop-ups in the city inspired by Main Puteri and Mak Yong, “Serenity: A Glimpse Through Traditional Lenses” at the Hin Bus Depot that connects tradition with contemporary dance, and the “G-Short” film festival finalists screening at Cheah Kongsi.

Also notable is “Cahaya XR: First Edition” at The Whiteaways Arcade that reimagines Penang’s traditional stories and heritage through virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

There is also a “Stay-at-Home Concert” community event at Macallum Street Ghaut.

Families will not want to miss the “Come Play With Me” piano concert featuring timeless pieces by famous composers at Loft 29.

Several shows are overseas collaborations, such as Le Corbusier at Bangunan UAB in conjunction with the Le French Film Festival. Isle to Isle at The Whiteaways Arcade celebrates the friendship between Penang and Taiwan.

“I hope festival-goers will be inspired by these programmes, because an inspired and creative population is a happy one. It’s time to get out and enjoy George Town again,” Chow urged.

George Town Festival 2022 is a project by George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), organised by TLM Event, endorsed by the Penang state government and supported by Yeoh’s office, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Penang Global Tourism (PGT).

Visit for programme details and ticket information.

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