Colonial charm, vibrant streetscapes and fabulous hawker-style fare – the Smith team is never short of excuses for a stay in Penang. For the next two weeks, there’s even more reason to swoop into this north-west Malaysian island, as the Georgetown Festival runs until 15 July.
Photography exhibitions, opera galas, theatre, films and music are all part of the lively line-up, with standout sessions including multicultural celebration Live Heritage and contemporary Rajasthani musical Manganiyar Seduction (pictured above), both from 6 to 8 July, as well as a screening of short film festival Tropfest in the Penang Botanic Gardens on 15 July.
WHERE TO STAY
The art appreciation doesn’t have to end when you check in to your hotel either… In Georgetown’s Unesco-listed Heritage Zone, Straits Collection (left) offers a choice of one or two bedrooms in four shabby-chic shophouses, with unique alfresco spaces, including open-air bathrooms.
Owner Narelle McMurtrie has worked her magic on the rustic wooden interiors, blending a reverence for the traditions and crafts of Penang with a kaleidoscope of colours and textures. Located on Georgetown’s hottest shopping strip, Armenian Street, this hub is also home to bijou boutiques and the Studio@Straits art space, where the festival’s Beautiful Junk exhibition and designers’ workshop have set up shop until 15 July.
A five-minute walk away, Narelle’s latest project, China House (right), is similarly inspired. Spread over three historic buildings on Beach and Victoria streets, it’s a maze of galleries, coffee houses and hip dining dens. It’s also hosting a slew of events, including the Songsang art exhibit, Sketching Georgetown collection and GoodFlers comedy show.
With last-minute availability at a host of boutique hotels in Penang, plus direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, there’s still plenty of time to get your festival fix.