SEVERAL streets in the George Town heritage enclave came alive during the Penang Chinese New Year Celebration 2019 as tourists and locals alike took in the air of festivity that was felt all over.
The celebration saw thousands of visitors indulging in a burst of vibrant culture as they explored King Street, Bishop Street, Church Street, Acheen Street, Pitt Street, Ah Quee Street, Soo Hong Lane, Armenian Street, Cannon Street, Chulia Street, China Street, Queen Street and Penang Street, where various stages and booths were set up throughout the enclave.
There were stages dedicated to the Hakka, Cantonese, Hainan and Hokkien culture, as well as to art forms such as Wushu and Hokkien opera.
The huge crowd was spotted enjoying various multi-cultural and traditional performances and learning different traditions and handicraft through the workshops and activities held during the event.
In King Street, visitors had their eyes fixed on the main stage where numerous dance and singing performances took place.
Despite a slight drizzle halfway into the celebration, they did not budge from their spots and continued to watch the performances closely.
Self-employed Andrew Lee, 35, said he enjoyed the celebration thoroughly.
“The weather did not bother us as we came prepared with umbrellas to shelter from the light rain.
“This is my first time here at the celebration. You can really feel the lau juak (upbeat) atmosphere in Penang come every Lunar New Year,” said Lee, who was at the event with his friends.
Further down from the main stage in King Street, a bottleneck formed as visitors slowed down for a photo opportunity with a ‘dragon’ adorned with flowers.
Food also took centre stage during the celebration as visitors feasted on a wide array of gastronomic delights that were available at the many food stalls and food trucks set up along Bishop Street.
Among them included Chinese traditional cuisines, streetfood and hawker fare, as well as modern gastronomic indulgences.
Crowds also built up at the intersection of King Street and Church Street as people converged there to catch the much-anticipated lion dance on 21 stilts.
Earlier, in his speech, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow congratulated and thanked the numerous sponsors who contributed towards the expenses of the celebration on Saturday.
He said there were over 100 volunteers involved in the celebration, some of whom were from schools.
“I want to commend you for your time and effort in contributing towards the successful hosting of the Penang Chinese New Year celebration this year,” he said.
Chow also said there were several big-scale activities ongoing in Penang.
“There is the Miao Hui (Temple Festival) here in the George Town World Heritage site, the Snake Temple celebrations in Bayan Lepas and the Penang Hot Air Balloon carnival in Polo Ground.
“Everyone would like to be at all the functions but I hope that you will take your time to visit these places to feel the New Year celebrations here in Penang,” he added.
The event also saw the premises of Chinese-based organisations and clan houses in the heritage enclave being open to the public as they showcased their respective ancestral cultures and traditions.
Themed ‘Thankful for the New Year’, the celebration supported by the Penang government was mainly organised by the Penang Chinese Clan Council and planned by the Penang Cultural Inheritors Society.