Arts & Culture

George Town Festival 2019: Closing with The Extravaganza

Wrapping up 16 days of adventure

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B-Side went down for the final weekend of George Town Festival 2019. This week, we’re dropping a special five-part series, featuring performances and interviews with their South East Asian lineup. This is Part 5 of 5.

Read BIRD – Part 1 here.

Read Armour and Skin – Part 2 here.

Read THISNORTHAT – Part 3 here.

Read Light – A Staged Reading – Part 4 here.

Right at the intersection of four streets, crowds were making their way from one street to another to take in all the sights The Extravaganza had to offer. After all, it was the final event to wrap up 16 days of artistic adventure, and the next one would be held in a year’s time.

One could definitely feel the crowd’s eagerness. Food trucks had endless queues, while the little Kombi photo booth parked right in the middle saw a line snaking through right across the street. However, there was no air of impatience as various stages scattered all across the venue entertained those waiting. The main stage had huge acrobatic solos, while the fringe stages had ethnic dances and fire-spinning.

Our favourite had to be the more intimate setting that took on a more busking set-up — casual yet heartfelt. The musicians, featuring a violinist and harpists, played familiar favourites that the crowd sang along to and took videos of.

And this very vibe summarised our weekend at George Town Festival, which was a celebration and homecoming of all the creative talents the region has to offer.

B-Side spoke with the organising team for George Town Festival on the message and success of the festival.

Share with us a closing statement on this year’s festival.

The George Town Festival 2019 capped its 16-day artistic adventure on 28 July at Lebuh Pantai with The Extravaganza, casting 120 artists from 10 countries to stage an enormous art bash that was universally celebrated.

This year’s GTF saw arts blooming anywhere and everywhere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves entirely in the arts in every nook and cranny in the city.

There were also more free-to-attend events, local engagement and contents this year, delivering on the promise of ‘A Festival for Everyone’.

Over the last two weeks, the festival transformed the heritage city of George Town along with Lebuh Pantai, the Esplanade and various iconic venues across the island and mainland into a global arts and cultural stage, allowing thousands of visitors and residents to experience the transformational nature of arts. It was the perfect occasion to gather friends and family, and it was a chance for tourists to connect with the locals.

This year’s festival was a huge success, recording more than 300,000 visitors. The opening weekend welcomed a massive 130,000 people, all of whom gathered at the Esplanade to soak up the lights, sounds and sights of When Night Falls. Art in the City, which was held the subsequent weekend, attracted 70,000 art lovers who walked around George Town in search of a multitude of artistic activities, which included music, children-friendly entertainment, dance and theatre.

Our workshops and pre-registered programmes were a success. Most of the workshops, ticketed shows and pre-registered programmes were conducted to a full house. We hope that, through this experience, the visitors have been able to discovere George Town a little more and are filled with pride to be part of its heritage and vibrant arts scene.

In short, this year’s GTF has added colours and excitement to brighten up Penang, making it a happening city.

Photography courtesy of George Town Festival 2019

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