The 10 Unmissable Festivals And Events This Summer In Penang, Malaysia

Photo of Michele Cheng
9 February 2017

Malaysia is chock full of great cities and places worth visiting, but as the second smallest state in the country, Penang is one of those hidden gems that sometimes gets overlooked by less experienced travellers. But there’s no doubt that Penang is a must visit destination when visiting Malaysia, and for good reason too. What better season to visit than summer, when Penang hosts exciting festivals, exhibitions, fairs and cultural events.

Penang Port | © Gp song/WikiCommons

Penang Bon Odori Festival

Penang has wonderful cultural diversity, demonstrated in the annual Bon Odori Festival, which celebrates Japanese culture with amazing performances, fun games, and delicious Japanese cuisine. Every year, fireworks are displayed in the evening at 10pm, and this year will be no exception. Over 80 stalls display and sell Japanese arts and crafts, and of course, food as well. Visitors can also try their hand at a little dress up with yukatas and kimonos for picture worthy moments. Performances are set to include Japanese folk dance and taiko drums. Ladies are also welcome to enter the Miss Yukata Competition where the winner will receive a cash prize.

Penang Bon Odori Festival, Esplanade, Penang, Malaysia, +60 04 650 5136

George Town Festival

The month long George Town Festival is a celebration of the city’s precious status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features a wide range of performances, exhibitions, and more. Since its very first run in 2010, the festival has become a much anticipated annual event in Penang, which, incidentally, ends on the extremely high note of celebrating the country’s National Day on 31 August.

George Town Festival 2014 Trailer | Courtesy of George Town Festival

Forward Oat King Sports Run

Forward Oat King Sports Run is a 21k half marathon run by the Penang Forward Sports club. The route goes through beautiful George Town and the event has charitable aims. Depending on how competitive you are, runners have two options when it comes to participating in this race: the competitive option or the fun run option. The competitive option covers the full distance of 21k and starts at 5:30am, with a cut off time of 3.5 hours. The fun run option on the other hand only covers a distance of 7k and starts a bit later at 6:30am, with a cut off time of 1.5 hours.

Penang International Lion Dance On Stilts Competition

The Penang International Lion Dance on Stilts Competition takes place annually. International teams hail from all parts of Asia including China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, and last but not least, Malaysia. The winning team is awarded RM10,000. With the preliminary and final rounds taking place earlier in the year, only the best of the best make it through to this final stage, so the audience can be prepared to see some fine talent, arguably, the best in Asia, go for that grand prize. It is no doubt a show not to be missed.

Eurasia Fiesta Penang | Courtesy Eurasia Fiesta Penang

Eurasia Fiesta

The annual Eurasian Fiesta is a party that toasts the cultural heritage of the Eurasian community in Malaysia. Smack bang in the middle of August, the Eurasia Fiesta runs alongside the George Town Festival this year for double the sensation. Acts who perform at the fiesta are not just performers, but event organizers as well. More detailed information is announced on their official Facebook page running up to the event, so keep checking to stay up to speed.

Eden Charity Concert By Eden Handicap Services Centre

This is your chance to be both charitable and get your concert fix if you are looking to spend your money this summer on a worthy cause. Eden Handicap Services Centre, a non-profit Christian-run organization set up in 1991, presents the Eden Charity Concert in the Performing Arts Centre of Penang in August. The charity aims to help the disabled find a supportive community while also equipping them for independence with training followed by suitable job placements.

Performing Arts Centre of Penang, 1 Straits Quay, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Pulau Pinang, Penang, Malaysia, +60 04 899 1722

Once A Month Jazz, Penang Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra

For music buffs, it won’t cost you a thing to jazz it up with the Penang Philharmonic. These monthly concerts showcase performances by members of the Penang Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra along with special featured guests and aims to provide a platform, quite literally, for artists to perform. The ultimate aim to raise awareness for jazz music among the general public and nurture a positive sentiment in this area of the arts.

Penang Philharmonic, Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, Penang, Malaysia, +60 04 262 2462

National Day Parade

The National Day is celebrated on 31 August in Malaysia every year. Although the big parade is held in the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur, Penang hosts its own National Day Parade too. Many organizations participate in the march including school bands, the armed forces, government offices, and also many other local corporations.

Malaysia – Penang Butterfly Gardens | © McKay Savage/WikiCommons

Penang International Green Carnival

Penang International Green Carnival is basically the perpetual event that follows the Green Expo that takes place annually. The carnival hopes to plant in the public a growing interest in striving towards a more environmentally friendly and green Penang. This event is all about raising awareness, with the motto being, ‘Be the Solution, ACCT (Against Climate Change Today) Now’. You can expect to find all sorts of fun at Esplanade Park in September including a theme park and exciting talent competitions too.

Project Occupy Beach | Courtesy of Project Occupy Beach

Project Occupy Beach Street

Almost every Sunday, Project Occupy Beach Street closes off the street for fun and friendly communal activities that are open to all. As spontaneous as this project may sound, it is actually (casually) affiliated with the government’s Penang Car Free Day initiative. This is to encourage the local community to use the car free space for creative outlets such as jogging and cycling to busking and dancing. Keep it safe and legal, and the sky’s the limit. Various zones have been designated for specific activities as well to ensure an assortment of fun. There is an area for young children, another dedicated to the arts, one to sports, and one to all about supporting a greener lifestyle.

Project Occupy Beach | Courtesy of Project Occupy Beach

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