SATURDAY, March 02, 2024

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

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

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 Malaysia.

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:


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 (8 pm-11 pm) 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.


A traditional music performance by the Borneo Boat Lute Revival group seen at a Seni Kita event this year in 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 instalment 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.


The Butterworth Fringe Festival is the place to be if you are looking for street performances and arts events for the entire family.


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. ‘Gerak Gaya’ looks to get festivalgoers dancing to the beat, with WaaiwaiiDrum and his band playing at an accompanying fashion show.

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

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 the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MBSP), endorsed by the Penang State Government, and managed by TLM Event.


A magunatip (bamboo dance) performance by Sabah Creative Dance seen at last year


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 - the NBRF concert which is the main stage highlight; the line-up of exhibitors (made up of NGOs, arts activists, and government bodies) and the Tamu NBRF (a market featuring local artisans 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.

M. Irsyad

The Star

Asia News Network