What exactly is George Town Festival?
We’re so glad you asked. George Town Festival, also known as GTF, is a month-long arts and culture extravaganza taking place in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. It celebrates the rich heritage and history of George Town while also providing the city with an opportunity to experience internationally acclaimed arts and culture events from other locations in the ASEAN region and beyond.
The inaugural George Town Festival event took place in July 2010, held in honour of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Status. Now in its ninth year, it has become a vital part of the Penang’s culture.
Festival month is jam-packed, with over one hundred acts, performances, exhibitions and installations. The best part? The majority of them are free and open to the public.
When will the festival be held?
The 2018 festival will take place on 4 August - 2 September. You can participate in GTF activities every single day, so get your calendars ready for an exciting month!
Where will the festival take place?
There are dozens of venues for the varied and unique George Town Festival events, from traditional auditoriums like Dewan Sri Pinang to shophouse walls, corner cafés and more. Thanks to its colourful architecture, narrow alleyways, friendly locals and living trades found on every block, George Town’s city streets are some of the most atmospheric in the world.
By holding performances and installations all over Penang’s World Heritage Site, GTF invites festivalgoers to see and experience for themselves what makes the city so very special.
What can I see at the festival?
Each year GTF prides itself on featuring an exceptional blend of both local and international performances, acts, and exhibitions. The hugely diverse line-up, encompassing everything from traditional Chinese operas to experimental theatre to workshops and more, ensures that there is something for everyone.
The full programme for 2018 will be announced in June. In the meantime, you can join our mailing list to get fresh announcements as they arrive. Click here to sign up - or follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages to stay on top of updates.
How much will the festival cost?
GTF annually brings in over a hundred different events during festival month, and prices for each individual act or exhibition vary widely. In previous years around 80% of all events were completely free.
In keeping with GTF’s broad goal of making art and culture accessible for each and every citizen of Penang, we try our very best to make ticketed events as affordable as possible. However, our international shows often have high production costs, and ticket prices can reflect this. Still, you may rest assured that the price you pay for your tickets will be lower than what you might pay in other places in the world, including Kuala Lumpur. Still not convinced? We also offer special student and senior citizen prices, as well as early-bird discounts!
Why are there more international programmes than local ones?
Another great question. Here at George Town Festival, we seek to showcase the people, places and spaces of Penang and Malaysia while also giving the local community a chance to experience new and exciting art forms from all around the world.
We believe that we can help to inspire and foster a love for the arts among our populace by giving them easy access to the highest quality shows we can, whether they are from Penang or somewhere farther away. No matter where our performers and acts are from, we uphold a very high standard when finalizing our annual line-up.
How can I stay updated on George Town Festival and its programmes?
The best way is to join our mailing list - sign up quickly by clicking here and wait for the great news to roll in.
You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates and announcements. We give our social media followers lots of chances for discounts (and even free tickets) with contests and other fun activities – friend us, like us, and follow us to participate!
You can also check back on our website for the most up-to-date festival info. Stay tuned!
Do I need to know a lot about art to attend this festival?
We make sure that our acts and events are highly accessible to festivalgoers – even those who are new to the world of creativity and art. One way that we do this is by bringing the acts directly to the streets of George Town, with street projects, pop-up stalls, and performances all available for viewing simply by taking a stroll around town. We also make sure you have plenty of information on the ticketed shows before you take your seat – you can read about the performance on our website and in our programme brochures to get a better idea of each and every show before you see it.
If you’re still feeling hesitant, simply drop us an email and we can answer any and all questions you might have about the festival! You, the festival participant, are our biggest priority.
How can I help out?
If you’d like to participate as a volunteer at George Town Festival, simply fill out our volunteer form here. Thanks for your interest!
I have a great idea for an event at George Town Festival! How do I share it?
We’re always excited to hear new proposals for our upcoming festivals. Simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Missed this year’s deadline for submissions? Sign up for updates and you’ll be first to hear when we’re ready to receive proposals for next year.
I am coming from out of town: What else should I see and do?
We can’t wait for you to explore everything George Town has to offer! We’re sure you’ll love it. We’re working on a Top Ten list for our out-of-town visitors, so keep your eye out for it right here on our website. We have a few suggestions in the meantime that are sure to get you excited for your trip:
- Enjoy a hot plate of Char Koey Teow, Penang’s most famous noodle dish with prawns, rice noodles, bean sprouts and chili paste.
- Walk down the famous Street of Harmony (or Masjid Kapitan Keling), where you can spot two mosques, a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, and a church, all coexisting peacefully with one another (hence the name!)
- Catch a Friday night show at China House’s hip bar Canteen on Lebuh Victoria, and enjoy of their delicious cocktails (and enormous cakes!) while you’re jamming out.
- Head down to Simply Thai on the southern coast of the island for some amazing beach sceneries (and out-of-this-world Pandan Chicken, of course!)