George Town Heritage Celebrations


George Town Heritage Celebrations is an annual celebration organised by George Town World Heritage Incorporated to commemorate the city’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008. It highlights interactive and educational programmes such as workshops and performances which take place in the streets of the heritage enclave.

Held since 2009, the Celebrations focuses on specific intangible cultural heritage themes each year to raise awareness of our cultural heritage and traditions among the public. Through the Celebrations, the local community come together to celebrate and showcase their own cultural practices, performances, food, and crafts.

With the continuous support and commitment from the State Government of Penang, the Celebrations continues to be a much-anticipated event attracting local and international celebration-goers who get the opportunity to immerse in the living traditions of George Town. It also raises awareness on the need and importance of safeguarding George Town’s outstanding universal values for the next generations.


The Heritage Celebrations to mark the 11th anniversary of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription will be held on 6 July 2019 with the theme of Let’s Celebrate: Rituals and Festive Events. Content curation will acknowledge the importance and transmission of the rituals and festive events in George Town, as they are the living heritage that showcases the rich diversity and beauty of our community. Celebration-goers will have the opportunity to experience elements of rituals and festive events in one night through interactive workshops, performances, and site visits.

Our efforts for community empowerment were making a difference through the Community-based Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventorying in George Town project, in which the local community were equipped with knowledge and skills to identify and document cultural heritage elements. The output of the inventorying project will be showcased in the Celebrations to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding our cultural heritage, and encourage collective support to ensure the transmission of cultural heritage to the next generation.

For details on George Town Heritage Celebrations, contact Tieh Kok Yang, Events Management Officer at 04-261 6606 or e-mail [email protected]

Download the brochure (English | Malay | Chinese | Tamil)
Download the booklet.


With 2018 marking the 10th year of George Town’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the theme ‘POTENTIAL – Of the Past, In the Present, For the Future explores George Town’s potential in moving forward based on its past narratives and current experiences. POTENTIAL also contains the word ‘ten’, representing the 10th anniversary of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Held on 7 July 2018, the Street Festival featured 25 community workshops comprising four sections – Auspicious Celebrations (celebrations and ritual), Handmade Crafts, Daily Delights (cultural food) and Leisure Activities (games and entertainment), as well as traditional performances which invited the participation of celebration-goers. Site excursions to eight places of worship were also organised on the weekends of July 2018.

Community Workshop Video Listing
Download the brochure (English | Malay | Chinese | Tamil)
Download the booklet.


The ninth anniversary celebration for the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site was held from 7 – 9 July 2017 with the theme of ‘Walk the Talk: Oral Traditions and Expressions’. It gathered 16 participating communities and 14 performance partners which shared their traditions and stories, and oral traditions such as proverbs, epics, charms, prayers, dramatic performances and folk tales.

Celebration-goers were introduced to the unique stories of the communities through storytelling sessions, cultural performances and learning to write in ancient script. The programmes, based on four elements of expressions – Read, Sing, Speak and Write, included a heritage trail, site excursions and an interactive heritage game called ‘The Forgotten Memoirs’.

Download the programme.
Download the booklet.


Themed ‘Mai Main: Traditional Sports and Games’ (Mai Main meaning Let’s Play!), George Town took a stroll down memory lane in George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016, returning the streets to its olden days as celebrations-goers played traditional sports and games such as ‘batu tujuh’, ‘kali toi’ and hopscotch.

Held from 7 – 9 July 2016, the Celebrations marked the eighth anniversary of George Town’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sparking childhood memories among adults and exposing the younger generations to the excitement of their parents’ era. Eleven traditional sports and 23 traditional games were highlighted in the Celebrations through introductory classes, forums, a street festival, workshops, demonstrations, and open court games.

Download the programme.
Download the brochure (English Mai Main Game Cards. | Download the Malay Mai Main Game Cards. | Download the Chinese Mai Main Game Cards. | Download the Tamil Mai Main Game Cards.)


Held from 4 – 7 July 2015, George Town Heritage Celebrations 2015 drew in food and culture lovers to mark the seventh anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. With the theme of ‘Eat Rite: Ritual Foods of George Town’, the Celebrations featured community showcases, cooking classes, and festive foods workshops.

It puts the spotlight on our city’s unique festive heritage with a focus on the special foods made to celebrate our festivals and traditional ceremonies. More than just a source of nutrients, these foods are rich in significance and symbols that express the beliefs and hopes shared by the local communities.

Download the booklet.


A cultural theme for the Celebrations is given for the first time, with ‘Living Legacies’ as the theme to highlight the importance of the historic city’s intangible heritage such as traditional handicrafts and places of worship signifying the harmonious relationship of different cultures, race and religion.

Held for two days on 6 and 7 July 2014, the Celebrations consisted of events in the inner city of George Town to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription, featuring craft workshops, heritage foods, walking trails, talks, film screenings and open houses.

Download the booklet.


The fifth anniversary celebration of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site was held on 6 and 7 July 2013. The theme of ‘Colour, Culture, Tradition’ was selected to reflect the vibrant multiracial ethnic, cultural and traditional heritage unique to George Town.

Over 40 events were held over the weekend, with more than 20 community groups and associations putting on cultural shows. The programme line-up featured performances such as boria, wayang gedek, Baba poetry, Thai Menora dance and rod puppet show. Apart from the patchwork quilts that were chosen as the design motif and decorations of the event, the Heritage Celebrations also featured guided heritage walks, traditional arts and crafts, and local cuisine.


The ‘Live Heritage’ celebration was held from 6 – 8 July 2012 as part of the George Town Festival, to mark the fourth anniversary of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. It featured over 40 cultural performances and showcases from local communities, open house visits to historical sites and homes, talks on history and culture, arts and craft showcases, food bazaars, and a community street exhibition. A mini day-long festival called ‘Heritage Heboh’ was also held for young people.

Among the highlights was the Living Museum programme in which tours are organised to the homes of local residents, while the Community Street Exhibition lets visitors hear the stories first hand from local traders and get a glimpse into their lives through old photographs.


The third anniversary celebration of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription was held over three days from 7 – 9 July 2011 with the theme of ‘Tapestry of Cultures’. The celebration was themed according to the three Outstanding Universal Value of George Town, with each day of the celebration devoted to each of the criteria – tangible and intangible heritage, multicultural exchanges and architectural landscape.

It featured multicultural performances by the local community, open houses at public and private heritage buildings, cultural and musical performances, exhibitions, traditional food and craft bazaar, public talks and demonstrations, a shophouse trail, the Living Museum – Sharing Our Stories programme (in which six families in George Town share their memories and stories), and cemetery tour.


The celebration on 7 July 2010 was part of George Town Festival 2010 to celebrate the second anniversary of George Town’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The day-long event was themed ‘Streets Come Alive – Unforgettable George Town’, showcasing culture, music and food through street performances and cultural exchanges in the inner city of George Town.

Apart from open houses at Fort Cornwallis, E&O Hotel and Penang Islamic Museum, most sites and attractions in the World Heritage Site were open free-of-charge to the public. There were also traditional food, arts and craft demonstrations, tours at places of worship, and cultural performances.


The first anniversary celebration of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site was a month long from 3 – 26 July 2009. A variety of events was held, such as a food, craft, art and music festival, food stalls and craft demonstration, Teochew opera show, multicultural street performances, heritage walks, free boat rides, and exhibitions. The programme aimed to be a platform to discover our shared identities among the local community of George Town, on what is George Town and how do the local community who live and work here identify with the city.

Download the programme.


The three-day George Town World Heritage Site Celebrations was held from 25 – 27 July 2008 following the joint inscription of Melaka and George Town: Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca on the UNESCO World Heritage List. To celebrate the city’s new status as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the activities held included a tour of George Town’s historic streets, cultural performances, kolam decorating, open houses at the clan jetties, dendang asli boria performances, traditional games, exhibitions and a fireworks display.

Download the programme.