JULY is set to be a fun month in Penang with various activities and events planned as part of the 2022 George Town Heritage Celebrations.
The celebrations – held each year to commemorate the city’s UNESCO World Heritage designation – return to their physical format for the first time after two years of muted festivities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In pre-pandemic times, activities and events were always highly anticipated as visitors looked forward to immersing themselves in the city’s cultural diversity and living traditions.
This year will be no different, as the celebration of the 14th anniversary of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage listing on July 7 will showcase Penang’s rich and diverse cultural elements.
The Managing Director of George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), Dr. Ang Ming Chee, said the popular multicultural performances and interactive cultural workshops will also be part of the celebration.
“George Town’s Heritage Celebration returns this year with many exciting programs in early July.
“After two years of online commemoration, this year’s first physical celebration will begin on the weekend of July 2-3 with cultural performances by talented and passionate cultural practitioners and artisans from Penang.
“The annual celebration returns with more than 20 cultural performances, nine cultural workshops and eight video documentations.
“The focus is on performing arts and traditional crafts, while emphasizing the importance of peaceful coexistence between people, nature and culture,” she said.
Among the performances that will be presented are the boria, the Odissi dance, the dikir barat, the lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, a mix of Chinese orchestra and a sitar recital.
The highlight of the July 2 celebration will be a 40-minute hand puppet theater called The Monkey King’s Havoc in Heaven by the Beng Geok Hong Potehi Troupe.
Visitors can enjoy the Wak Long Menjadi Raja on July 3, which is a 40-minute wayang kulit by the Wak Long Music and Art Center.
“All programs, which will take place at the Lebuh Acheh basketball court, are free and do not require registration,” Ang said.
On July 7 – Penang Heritage Day – which is a public holiday in the state, she said the program would begin with the 5km George Town Discovery Walk at 7am in the enclave of the site of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town.
Those interested can register at howei.com/event_details/georgetowndiscoverywalk2022
As it will be a family celebration, teenagers, schoolchildren and their families are invited to participate in the “Cultural Workshops in the Garden” from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. also on July 7 at the Armenian Park of Lebuh Aceh.
Visitors will be able to experience interactive programs such as wau making, henna art, wood carvings, wayang kulit (shadow play), kolam (Indian decorative art), thoranam (hanging decorations), khat (Jawi calligraphy), Chinese calligraphy and paper-cutting crafts during the evening.
“These workshops are organized in partnership with the Penang Islamic Foundation, the Penang Hindu Association, the Penang Clan Associations Youth Committee, the Van Hin Book Co and the Wak Long Music and Art Centre.
“No registration is required and participation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Ang said.
She said Penang Cultural Heritage’s In The New Normal mini-documentary films will be screened at Dewan Belia Lebuh Acheh in George Town on July 7.
She pointed out that these documentaries were made by local film talent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We hope these films will be an inspiration to the people as Malaysians enter the post-Covid-19 era this year,” she added.
Regarding the facilities, Ang said drinking water dispensers would be installed at the celebration venues and visitors could refill their water bottles.
“Additional public toilets will also be provided,” she said.
As parking spaces are limited, visitors are advised to use public transport or carpool, or consider parking their vehicles at the multi-storey parking lot in the Komtar area and walking to the Armenian park for celebrations.
“Armenian Park will be decorated for this special occasion, so join us with your friends and family to create great memories,” Ang said.
George Town’s heritage celebrations will be followed by the iconic George Town Festival taking place July 9-24 (see box).