3 creative festivals to look out for in Malaysia and Singapore

Mark your calendars to partake in food masterclasses, exhibitions, gigs and even film screenings.

Red Hong Yi and her artistic team will be hosting a sharing session at George Town Festival (Photo: Jessielyee Photography)

Some of the region’s best festivals are back in full swing, with both physical and virtual programmes to accommodate guests. From arts and culture to food and entertainment, sign yourself up for whatever tickles your fancy and get to know other like-minded people at these highly-anticipated events.


George Town Festival

If you’re making your way to Penang for the holidays, consider checking out the exhibitions and shows happening at George Town Festival. Back for its 12th edition, the event is bisected into two nine-day affairs. The first part (Nov 20 to 28) sees cafés, shopping malls and historical buildings being turned into galleries to host exhibitions that showcase works of various genres, from paintings to photography and art installations.

Make a point to visit Thank God It’s Monday, a show by contemporary artist Red Hong Yi and her artistic team (the one behind TIME’s Climate is Everything cover and the Memebank NFT copper plates), at The Whiteaways Arcade. They will also be hosting a sharing session on Nov 27 about the inspirations behind their experimental works, which were all created on Mondays.


Soundscape duo Kicau-Bila will be performing 'Nusantrik' at The Senses (Photo: George Town Festival)

The second, from Dec 4 to 12, are performances, where festival-goers can look forward to dance, comedy, film and music shows. On Dec 5, head up to the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk at The Habitat Penang Hill, which was recently recognised as a Unesco biosphere reserve, for an all-round sensorial experience in a one-of-a-kind concert amid the island’s 130-million-year-old rainforest. The Senses will feature performers Buddha Beat, Darmas and Kicau-Bilau.

Alternatively, if you’d rather listen to some jazz while sipping a good cup of coffee, WVC Jazz Ensemble will be playing two back-to-back concerts at Black Kettle on Dec 11 and 12. They will be performing new contemporary arrangements from their latest album, Purnama, on the first night and a unique tribute to acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami that combines narration, music and visual art.

For the full line-up, see here.


Kita Food Festival

Foodies, rejoice! Malaysia’s most accomplished restaurants, chefs and food producers are joining forces to present masterclasses as well as food and drink events that celebrate our country’s culinary culture and gourmet heritage. The festival will be held in Penang from Dec 3 to 4, and Kuala Lumpur from Dec 8 to 12.

The festival will include exclusive chef collaborations and takeovers highlighting endemic, local and sustainable ingredients. Visit the acclaimed Gēn in Penang on Dec 4, where head chef Johnson Wong will be collaborating with Hide KL’s Shaun Ng to present an eight-course discovery menu that combines luxury and local ingredients. Otherwise, book a table at Dewakan to sample an intriguing 11-course plant-forward menu, created by chef Darren Teoh, together with Akar Dining’s Aidan Low, Ember’s Gary Anwar and Char Line’s Hun Yun, on Dec 8.


Hide KL’s Shaun Ng will visit Gēn in Penang to collaborate with chef Johnson Wong (Photo: Gēn)

For those who want to learn from the best, register for the masterclasses. Chef Takashi Kimura will demonstrate three French dishes to an intimate class of ten and share tips and skills gleaned from his wealth of experience at Cilantro on Dec 9. Protegees will also be treated to a lunch exclusive to the event. On the other hand, tipplers will want to secure a spot at Junglebird KL, where its three founders will show how they conceptualise their award-winning cocktails and how they use their by-products in the kitchen.

For the full line-up, see here.


Singapore Media Festival

One of Asia’s leading international media events, the massive, highly-anticipated Singapore Media Festival is taking place in a hybrid format this year from Nov 25 to Dec 5. Those flying to the Little Red Dot under the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme will be able to physically join the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), ScreenSingapore (SS), Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) and Singapore Comic Con (SGCC), but virtual events are also available for those staying put.

Those in media and entertainment industries will be presented with a platform at ATF to connect with and learn from top players from around the world who will share trends and insights into the development of the region’s entertainment content landscape through conferences, pitches and discussions.



Film buffs would not want to miss the mentorship programmes, masterclasses, dialogues and exchanges at SGIFF or networking opportunities at SS, which is widely attended by international filmmakers, critics, producers and financiers. Throughout the 11-day event, SGIFF will also be screening a series of regional and local films, including Scene UnSeen by the late filmmaker Abdul Nizam and Mat Magic by Mat Sentol and John Calvert, in Singaporean cinemas. In addition, SGCC will celebrate the best of Western and Asian pop culture online with competitions and tournaments, games, exclusive panels, merchandise and exhibitor booths from Dec 3 to Jan 2, 2022.   

For the full line-up, see here.


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