Our story began in 2010 when George Town Festival was founded as an arts-centric project under the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI). It was mooted to commemorate the inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a designation honouring the city’s Outstanding Universal Values (OUV) in multiculturalism. Throughout the years, George Town Festival (GTF) has remained dedicated to elevating the visibility of arts and culture and fostering a deeper appreciation for heritage in Penang and beyond.

Currently in its 14th edition, George Town Festival celebrates our human experiences and the power and possibilities of the arts. From 15 – 30 July 2023, festival goers and arts enthusiasts can attend over 50 programmes held across various cityscapes and localities, promising a festival for everyone to enjoy.

As an influential voice of the arts, culture and heritage, GTF 2023 features outstanding works by Malaysian and international artists ranging from traditional, experimental and multidisciplinary productions of varied art forms, including music, dance, theatre and the visual arts. Through collaborations and partnerships, the 16-day Festival (re)creates spaces for all to witness and experience the many narratives, colours, textures and portrayals of characters and identity(s) shaped by indigenous, ethnic and intercultural perspectives.

Here at GTF, we believe that the arts not only prompt community togetherness but have the power to inspire and transform the way we see ourselves and our relationships with each other. To extend our commitment to community engagement, we have included family-oriented, community-based and children-friendly performances and events in several localities within Penang. Our firm and continuing vision is to create a festival that promotes inclusivity, accessibility and diversity, uniting local communities and festival–goers across generations, backgrounds and nationalities around a shared love of the arts and the stories they tell.

Our programmes are also curated to bridge aspects of our tangible and intangible heritage. By holding performances and events in various locations, including lesser-known spaces, outdoor environments and niche venues, we continue to challenge and spur discussions on how the arts can be performed and viewed. This way, the Festival catalyses newer experiences in the arts.

Collectively, George Town Festival 2023 positions art as the thread that weaves tradition, culture, and heritage, creating a tapestry of human experiences through the arts and the things that hold us together.