Bon Odori is a Japanese-Buddhist festival that will be taking place on Saturday 21st of July 2018 from 6-10:30pm at the Esplanade. It is a vibrant celebration with many dance and music performances throughout the night. Alongside this there will be many stalls selling Japanese food and souvenirs.

The festival is a 500 year old tradition in Japan and is primarily celebrated as a homecoming for the ancestral spirits. Originally a ceremony to mark the visit of the ancestral spirits to their families, it is seen as a family reunion of both the living and dead. Over the years it has become a time-honoured Penang tradition too. This year will be the 22nd time that Bon Odori celebrations have been held in George Town. Where it is celebrated overseas, and particularly in Malaysia it is often a celebration of wider Japanese culture rather than a Buddhist festival. Amongst the dances there will also be cheerleading, martial arts and comedy performances. As such it is a energetic testament to Japanese-Malaysian cultural exchange.

The lively combination of music, dance, food and colour begins with an opening ceremony at 6pm culminates with a fireworks show at 10pm. It all takes place at The Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama, Lebuh Light, 10450 George Town, Penang). More information at

By Ella Benson Easton