Bored of KL? Take a trip to these arts festivals outside the capital city


In Penang, the community-based Butterworth Fringe Festival aims to revitalise the mainland township through arts, cultures and heritage activities. Photo: BFF

As we enter into the month of December, many of us are already reaching to hit the "holiday mode" button. It's time to wind down, with the school holidays and weekend plans to include road trips and travel across the nation.

If you want to immerse yourself in local arts and culture, here are a few events and festivals happening outside the Klang Valley that you can visit, as you plan your holiday schedule:

IPOH INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL 2023, PERAK

Date: Dec 2-12

All roads lead to Ipoh these days, especially after the Perak state capital was officially designated "City of Music" by Unesco's Creative Cities Network (UCCN) on Oct 31.

The Ipoh International Art Festival 2023 (IIAF) - all events free admission - is a good start to show what the city can offer.

Organised by Ipoh-based arts collective PORT (People of Remarkable Talents) in collaboration with the National Art Gallery, the Ipoh City Council, Maju Perak Holdings, and Tourism Perak, the IIAF is set to celebrate its third edition with an activity-packed arts programme, which starts today.

Themed "MARCAPADA: The World Today", IIAF 2023 will feature more than 100 visual artists (from home and abroad) and a line-up of creative arts practitioners for a 10-day festival, which will include a contemporary art exhibition, concerts, performance art shows, experimental music, film and video screenings, literary workshops, forums, and Orang Asli community arts events.

The festival's main locations include PORT, the Ipoh Padang and Bazar Ipoh (Silveritage).

For art lovers, the main art exhibition "MARCAPADA: The World Today" (open daily through the festival) will be held at Bazar Ipoh (Silveritage). It includes artists and collectives such as Wong Hoy Cheong, Azizan Paiman, Saiful Razman, Stefano Cagol (Italy), Patani Artspace (Thailand), Malaikat (Indonesia), Projek Rabak, Terang, Suzy Sulaiman, Anniketyni Madian, Kamal Sabran and Finn Anuar.

Aside from art, there are plenty of other events happening across the city. The Filamen-produced projection mapping series "Terang" will be lighting up the Ipoh Padang every night (8pm-11pm) with a cast of regional multimedia artists, while the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia will be happening at PORT on Dec 8. The MARCAPADA Fashion Night happening on Dec 9 at Bazar Ipoh will feature experimental outfit Space Gambus Experiment.

More info here.

A traditional music performance by the Borneo Boat Lute Revival group seen at a Seni Kita event this year in Kuching. Photo: HAUS KCH A traditional music performance by the Borneo Boat Lute Revival group seen at a Seni Kita event this year in Kuching. Photo: HAUS KCH

SENI KITA WEEKEND, KUCHING

Date: Dec 8-10

Not everything has to be a major-scale arts jamboree. Community-based events can also give you a glimpse of what is happening in other vibrant and culturally-inclined cities outside Kuala Lumpur.

If you happen to be in Kuching, don't forget to catch the "Seni Kita Weekend" series, themed "Environment", which is scheduled to take place on Dec 9 and 10.

It's the final installment of this year's four-part themed arts festival organised by Kuching-based creative hub HAUS KCH.

For art, the HAUS KCH venue is set to showcase an accompanying exhibition,On State Of Being, which will open on Dec 8. It features works by Ainee Hanae (Sarawak), Ekhael (Kuala Lumpur), Rias Sofiyah (Sarawak), Sherylatachi (Kuala Lumpur), Tiomilokl (Kuala Lumpur), Pici Pamg (Sarawak), and Solaris (Selangor).

On State Of Being, which runs through Dec 22, explores the environment inside the human mind, and examines how individuals perceive the world around them. This take is a spiritual contrast to environmental concerns highlighted in the upcoming Seni Kita Weekend's activities at the Kuching CSSC venue.

The Seni Kita Weekend (on Dec 9 and 10) will feature 50 vendors, workshops, Christmas-themed activities, Drum Community Competition, book sessions, film screenings, printmakers, artists and more.

More info here.

The Butterworth Fringe Festival is the place to be if you are looking for street performances and arts events for the entire family. Photo: The Star/FilepicThe Butterworth Fringe Festival is the place to be if you are looking for street performances and arts events for the entire family. Photo: The Star/Filepic

BUTTERWORTH FRINGE FESTIVAL, PENANG

Date: Dec 16 and 17

The mainland arts scene in Penang can be equally as cool as George Town. The seventh edition of the (free admission) Butterworth Fringe Festival is set to give Dataran Pemuda Merdeka and surrounding locations a jam-packed weekend of art, music, games and more.

The weekend of outdoor fun will start at the ‘Busker Stage’, where acrobatics and zippy choreography are set to take the spotlight, setting the tone for the rest of the festival. ‘GerakGaya’ looks to get festivalgoers dancing to the beat, while WaaiwaiiDrum and his band add percussive fun.

For those looking for a more Zen and literary experience, be sure to catch ‘Readings@Tanjong: The Dragon Awakens’, which is part of ‘Rhythm and Spoken Words’ programme of the festival. Listen to writers perform their stories related to the mythical dragon, and enjoy the Sound of Bamboo, a calming flute session played by Ayawan.

Other people-friendly events of BFF include ‘Api-Api’, where fire performers showcase their skills with blazing hula-hoops. ‘Wave at Bagan’ is another projection mapping installation by Filamen that highlights the symbiotic relationship between Butterworth and the sea. ‘Kapten Buehbossa’, a professional bubbleologist and visual artist from Seremban is also set to perform, showing how art and science can converge.

Butterworth Fringe Festival is organised by Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP), endorsed by the Penang State Government, and managed by TLM Event.

More info here.

Heritage hub The Bendahari in Melaka is set to close out an eventful year with the 'Laujiat Market' on Dec 16 and 17. Photo: Charles MeurHeritage hub The Bendahari in Melaka is set to close out an eventful year with the 'Laujiat Market' on Dec 16 and 17. Photo: Charles Meur

'LAUJIAT MARKET!' AT THE BENDAHARI, MELAKA

Date: Dec 16 and 17

It has been a busy year for Melaka's The Bendahari, which put together the "Heritage Trades of Melaka: A Community-Driven Exhibition & Event" in August. The heritage hub, located in the old Melaka town centre (Jalan Bendahara), has also been actively organising monthly activities, with storytelling, historical talks, documentary screenings, photography, game sessions and mini exhibitions giving it wider exposure nationwide.

The Bendahari is set for one last noisy weekend this year with the mini fest 'Laujiat Market! on Dec 16 and 17. In The Peranakan Chinese patois, the word 'laujiat' refers to a festive gathering, a merry party that is noisy and jolly.

The (free admission) marketplace will be supporting local young social enterprises and entrepreneurs such as Kneading Peace, Sudo Bakery, Scully’s Heritage Pies, and Paulitical Art. Talk about a good place to pick up gifts for the season. A range of Melaka's festive season heritage food will also be available.

'Laujiat Market!' will also feature talks by social enterprises on Saturday, including Maneknya and Bare Concept Store, while Sunday will see the arts space hosting a book reading session by Books On Melaka.

More community arts and culture activities will be announced soon.

More info here.

A magunatip (bamboo dance) performance by Sabah Creative Dance seen at last year's North Borneo Rainforest Festival. Photo: Adi HJ A magunatip (bamboo dance) performance by Sabah Creative Dance seen at last year's North Borneo Rainforest Festival. Photo: Adi HJ

NORTH BORNEO RAINFOREST FESTIVAL, KOTA KINABALU

Date: Dec 16 and 17

Finally in Sabah, the North Borneo Rainforest Festival returns for its fourth year. Organised by Pertubuhan Kolektif Seni and supported by Tourism Malaysia, this year’s NBRF will be used as a platform to raise awareness about waste management.

It will be held at the Likas, Jogging Complex & Jungle Skate Park in Kota Kinabalu.

One of the highlights of this grassroots festival is the use of repurposing ghost-nets into art installations. In Sabah currently, these nets continue to float in the ocean’s current, entangling marine wildlife and damaging reefs.

The community powered event is divided into three elements - NBRF concert which is the main stage highlight; the line-up of exhibitors (made up of NGOs, arts activists, government bodies) and the Tamu NBRF (a market featuring local artisan and entrepreneurs in Sabah).

This year’s performers for the NBRF concert include Pertubuhan Pentas Eukarya Sabah, Rapot Sanggong, Tompuvan, Sekolah Indonesia, Suara Buluh Perindu, Dabra Sia, Tuni Sundatang, Diandra John Isobahtos, DJ Alveen Showtime and many more.

More info here.

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Arts , Festivals , Ipoh , Butterworth , Sabah , Community , Exhibition

   

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