July 7th 2018 marks exactly ten years since George Town, together with Melaka, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, so it is a good excuse to make the annual celebration of the date even more extravagant than usual!
The centrepiece of the celebration is a street festival that will be held all over the Heritage Zone from 6pm until 11pm that day. A stage in Armenian Park will feature non-stop music, martial arts and dance from 7pm until 10.30pm. Traditional lion dances, Indian dancing and Teochew opera will be interspersed with modern cultural dance, German songs and contemporary interpretations of traditional songs. The evening’s entertainment aims to portray the cultural diversity of Penang’s community in accessible bite-size pieces, and to demonstrate how that cultural diversity continues to impact the modern-day performing arts scene here.
A dance floor will be created on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (Pitt Street), next to the junction with Armenian Street, and here the audience will have the opportunity to get involved themselves. The dance floor will host two Chingay displays (traditional balancing of enormous flagpoles), but also Thai, Indian, Javanese, Gujarati and Punjabi dancing and anyone with the energy is invited to join in regardless of previous experience. The list of performances in both locations is below, and also available online at http://gtwhi.com.my/gt10/e-brochure/
Elsewhere in the Heritage Zone 25 “interactive workshop stations” will be set up, for people to observe or join in as they wish, and learn about community games, food, crafts and religious ceremonies. Each station is run by a Penang community, and the topics range from “Mustard Salad Dressing” (by the Penang Eurasian Community) to “Manpandam” (handmade clay pottery used in Indian cuisine), to “Kaikottikali” (a dance performed by unmarried Malayali women to bring marital bliss). A map of the locations of each of the stations and brief descriptions of each is available from George Town World Heritage Inc.’s offices on Lebuh Aceh, and at hotels and other tourist locations. You can also download it here: http://gtwhi.com.my/gt10/e-brochure/
The third main component of the celebrations is a series of guided visits to some of the major religious sites, mostly within the Heritage Zone, which take place between July 7th and July 15th. These are St George’s Church (Saturday 7th 9.30am-11.30am), the Church of the Assumption (Saturday 7th 2pm-4pm), Kapitan Keling Mosque (Sunday 8th 10am-12pm), Kramat Dato Koyah (Sunday 8th 2pm-4pm), Nattukottai Chettiar Temple (Monday 9th 10am-12pm), Police Gurdwara Sahib Penang (Friday 13th 6pm-8pm), Acheen Street Malay Mosque (Saturday 15th 10am-12pm) and Thai Pak Koong Temple (Sunday 15th 5pm-7pm). You must register for these in advance, only one visit per person, but while free for Malaysians, they cost a hefty RM100 for non-Malaysians. You can register online here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd0_pO5MBg_1okio37K86GdtVL3kuZpnIOBZkJ3CB4RICcNXw/viewform