Nov 17 2011

The Penang Island Jazz Festival 2011

Published by at 2:12 pm under Events


It seems to be an unspoken rule of music festivals in Malaysia that all the best ones are held on islands. The state of Sarawak, in Borneo, plays host to both Borneo Jazz (formerly known as Miri Jazz) and the Rainforest World Music Festival, while the inaugural Langkawi Live was held earlier this month (November 11-12).

Rainforest World Music Festival 2011.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2011.

It should not comes as a surprise then that Penang, one of Malaysia’s foremost cultural centres, should have a buzzing music festival too. The eighth Penang Island Jazz Festival takes place from December 1 to 4, with more performers, workshops and fringe events than ever before.

So much to see and do, so little time.

So much to see and do, so little time.

The main stage, in the garden of the Bayview Beach Resort, will host an array of international and local talent on December 3 and 4. The main draw, apart from the music, is the setting besides Penang’s most popular beach, Batu Ferringhi. Tickets cost 63 ringgit for each night, and are available online from Ticketpro.

Not a bad setting all in all.

Not a bad setting all in all.

What is truly impressive about Penang Jazz is how much will be going on away from the main stage, from photographic exhibitions to late night jamming sessions. The festival even boasts jazz poetry performances, as well as a bring-your-own percussion instrument “community drum circle”. As an added bonus, most of the fringe events are free.

Not recommended for speedy transport between venues.

Not recommended for speedy transport between venues.

All in all, Penang Jazz has far too much going on for just one blog post to do it justice — for a full programme of the festival, visit the excellent website. If only the Ministry of Tourism was even a fraction as efficient at providing information for the many festivals it organises. Then again, what possible kickbacks could you get from having an informative website?

The Khoo Kongsi clan house in all its splendour.

The Khoo Kongsi clan house in all its splendour.

If you fancy a break from all that jazz, Penang is far from being a one-trick pony. Georgetown, which was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008, has more living history than anywhere else in Malaysia. If the heat gets too much, then Penang Hill offers cooler climes and great views. The food in Penang is reputedly the best in the country too, and not just according to the locals, who tend to be rather proud of their island. Spend some time there, and you will soon see why.

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