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 5-part series, featuring performances and interviews with their Southeast Asian line-up. 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.

Held 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, this is the final event to wrap up 16 days of artistic adventure and the next one will be a year away.

One could definitely feel the eagerness of the crowd. Food trucks had endless queues while the little Kombi photobooth parked right in the middle saw a line snaking through right across the street. However, there was no sense of impatience as the waiting was made painless with the various stages scattered all across the venue. The main stage saw huge acrobatic solos and 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 crowds would video and sing along to. And this very vibe summarised our entire weekend spent at George Town Festival, which was a celebration and homecoming of all the creative talent 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 (GTF 2019) capped its 16-day artistic adventure on 28 July 2019 at Lebuh Pantai with The Extravaganza, casting 120 artists from ten countries to form an enormous art bash that is worth a universal celebration.

This year's GTF has seen 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, more local engagement and local contents this year, delivering the promise of 'A Festival for Everyone'.

For over the last two weeks, the George Town Festival 2019 had 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, gathering thousands of visitors and residents to experience the transformational nature of arts. It's the perfect occasion to gather friends and family, and it's a chance for tourists to connect with the locals.

This year’s Festival was a huge success. Until the day of the closing ceremony, George Town Festival 2019 has recorded more than 300,000 visitors. The opening weekend of George Town Festival 2019 welcomed a massive 130,000 visitors, all of them 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 welcomed 70,000 art lovers weaving their ways around George Town in search of a multitude of artistic activities covering music to children-friendly entertainment, and from dance to theatre.

Our workshops and pre-registered programmes were a success, having welcomed large groups of enthusiasts who filled up the venues. Most of the workshops, ticketed shows and pre-registered programmes were conducted to a full house. We hope that, through this experience, all of the visitors have discovered George Town a little more and are filled with pride to be part and parcel 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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