New Year's Eve in Penang

See the year off in Penang

What we say: 3.5 stars

As a country with one of the highest number of annual public holidays in the world, most Malaysians like an excuse to celebrate and what better reason than New Year’s Eve? While it is not traditionally known as a party island, Penang nevertheless buzzes at New Year and offers enough different options to make your start to 2013 a memorable one.

Fireworks at Straits Quay. (Photo courtesy of E&O Berhad.)

If it’s a crowd atmosphere you’re after, the huge grassy Esplanade adjacent to Fort Cornwallis on Lebuh Light plays host to an outdoor concert from 21:00, presented by local radio DJs and featuring live singers and bands to keep the crowds entertained. This is Penang’s official event and concludes with a suitably impressive fireworks display to usher in the New Year.

A more family-friendly option is the Countdown Party at Straits Quay (Jalan Seran Tanjung Pinang; T: (04) 891 8000). The marina provides a picturesque backdrop to the floating stage, which hosts live jazz and percussion ensemble sets from 20:00, as well as games, an official countdown just before midnight, and fireworks to round off proceedings. There are plenty of al fresco bars and restaurants for every budget, so this is a great place to settle down, enjoy the atmosphere and make a night of it.

For upmarket celebrations the ultra-modern, newly-renovated Macalister Mansion (228 Macalister Road; T: (04) 2283 888) in Georgetown is arguably one of Penang’s most stylish establishments. Their trendy and very popular Bagan Bar is open for drinks all evening, or if you really want to splash out, the restaurant is doing a full dinner-plus-entertainment package, comprising pre-dinner drinks, a five-course meal and countdown reception with band and singer by the poolside, for 300 ringgit ++ per person.

If you prefer to be a bit more spontaneous, Upper Penang Road in Georgetown is most definitely the best place to be. Most of the cafes, bars and clubs along this pedestrianised strip offer al fresco seating and pool their resources on New Year’s Eve to offer live entertainment, games, competitions and a conga line or two. There is a great party atmosphere here, although if you’re not a fan of audience participation, you may want to sit inside one of the bars rather than on the street.

Upper Penang Road.

If you’re only just getting going at midnight, join the crowds in the after-hours clubs, which are concentrated on the same strip. Momo Mois (The Bungalow, Upper Penang Road; T: (012) 418 6647) and Slippery Senoritas (2 Upper Penang Road; T: (04) 263 6868) are the two most popular places and are likely to have long queues, so phone ahead to put your name on the guest list.

Meanwhile, for the hottest party on the island, head over to Sixty9ine Mansion at Batu Ferringhi (69 Jalan Batu Ferringhi). This restaurant, bar and club has a massive following in Penang and with its classy modern interior, pool and views over the sea, it is a great place to celebrate a tropical New Year’s Eve. The DJ line-up includes Goldfish & Blink, DJ Hill Fung and Kylie Chapman, and there are special promotions and freebies all night, as well as party packs for the crowd. The doors are open from 17:30 until the early hours and tickets are 50 ringgit on the door, or 45 ringgit in advance (including free bottle of Heineken). Call (012) 434 3669 for more information.

For New Year’s Day hangover cures, settle yourself down in a quiet corner of the leafy courtyard at Muntri Mews (77 Muntri Street) and banish your woes with something from their excellent brunch menu. Alternatively, you could go for strong coffee and bagels at The Daily Dose Cafe (8c Lebuh Carnarvon; T: (04) 261 2063) and, if you’re feeling up to it, prescribe yourself some hair-of-the-dog from their selection of wines and beers.

Last updated: 29th August, 2014

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