Penang is introducing another new festival this year, and with its main objective as celebrating Penang Hill’s glorious history, natural habitat, and cultural heritage, it is a festival we hope will be success and repeated annually!
A former colonial hill station, Penang Hill is an integral part of the lives of Penangites, whether it is enjoyed as a place to take visitors, a hiking destination or as a stunning view when approaching the island from the mainland. The unique historical, natural, and cultural aspects of the hill are to be celebrated with programmes designed for visitors to ‘See the Nature. Feel the History’ during the last two weekends of July and the days in between.
Guided tours of different historical trails will introduce people to the Moniot Trail and Viaduct Trail, and the Night Exploration and the Herpetology Walk and Talk will educate them on animals and their natural habitat within the 130 million-year-old rainforest.
Experts on aspects of Penang Hill’s history and natural environment, including the putative UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, will give talks, former students of Uplands School and fans of the TV series Indian Summers will gather at The Crag Hotel (which was Uplands School’s original location), and amateur and professional astronomists are invited to gather at Bellevue Hotel to observe a lunar eclipse and Mars opposition happening together. An exhibition of old photos of Penang Hill will give an opportunity to visitors to appreciate the hill in its earlier years, and music performances will be held, with a special day dubbed Music on the Hill – East Meets West dedicated to celebrating the hill’s cultural heritage.
A good way to start any visit on any day of the Penang Hill Festival will be to join the Heritage Guided Tour. Taking place five times a day (9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm), it is a specially planned 3 km route to look (from the outside) at some of the heritage bungalows dotted around the Hill’s summit. The tour begins at the Dataran and is free of charge.
Also from Monday 23rd until Friday 27th, there will be two daily Penang Hill Rainforest Exploration tours, at 9.30am and at 3.30pm, to explore the natural heritage of the 130-million year old rainforest on Penang Hill. The tours also begin at the Dataran, cost RM 48 and will last around two hours. The registration link for this and all other paid events can be found at penanghill.gov.my/phf2018.
There are also exhibitions running throughout the period:
The Penang Hill Photo Exhibition is showcasing old photographs of Penang Hill, some of which date back as far as the 1800s. it is open daily from 9am until 6pm at the Gate House next to Bel Retiro. Entrance is free.
The UNESCO Biosphere Exhibition is highlighting the ongoing process to nominate Penang’s forests and adjacent natural areas as learning sites for sustainability under the UNESCO programme. It is at the Dataran and is open from 9am until 6pm daily, with free entrance.
The events on Saturday 21st July are:
A Rainforest Discovery Talk & Walk with Dr Saw Leng Guan, curator for Penang Botanic Gardens taking place at The Habitat from 11am until 1pm. Normal entrance fee to The Habitat applies.
“Wild Roads”, an exhibition all about Penang’s charming dusky langurs and what Langur Project Penang is doing to research their habits and promote primate conservation in Penang. It takes place at the Dataran on Penang Hill from 11am until 4pm.
Night Exploration with Steven Wong from the Malaysian Nature Society, who will lead the group along some Penang Hill trails in the dark to try to spot nocturnal animals in their natural habitat, from 7pm until 10pm. The price is RM 15 per person.
The events on Sunday 22nd July are:
Exploration of the Viaduct Trail: a nature guide will accompany hikers on this 7.5km walk to identify flora and fauna. The walk is free of charge, begins at the Dataran at 8.30am, and will last approximately 3 hours.
Discover the Secret of Monkey Cup, a talk at the Monkey Cup Garden (Dataran??) all about pitcher plants. The talk cost RM 10 per person and takes place three times (2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm).
Young Explorer and Family Walk, a specially designed route for children and those young at heart to find exotic species to draw and colour in a handbook. The walk starts at the Dataran, at 8.30am or 3.30pm and lasts approximately two hours. The cost is RM 30. The walk will also take place the following Sunday 29th July.
On Friday 27th July is Mars Opposition and Penang Hill as Portal to the Universe when all are welcome to gather at Bellevue Hotel on Penang Hill from 8pm until 10pm to observe a lunar eclipse and a Mars opposition. This event is free of charge.
The events on Saturday 28th July are:
Nature Walk to Moniot Heritage Trail, a 5km guided walk along one of Penang Hill’s most scenic and historic trails. The walk begins at 8.30am from the Dataran and lasts approximately 3 hours. There is no charge.
Penang Hill’s Effort to Become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a talk taking place from 11am until 12.30pm at The Habitat given by Professor. Dr. Siti and other academics from USM describing what is happening on this front. the talk is free of charge.
A talk on the History and Heritage of Penang Hill at 6pm gives retired award-winning Komtar architect and botanic researcher, Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat and local historian Marcus Langdon a platform to talk about Penang Hill’s past at the Bellevue Hotel from 6pm until 8pm. Attendance is free of charge.
Music on the Hill – East Meets West is a free concert at the Dataran from 3pm until 6pm, featuring various performances made using traditional instruments such as the Gamalan, Sitar and Tabla, the Chinese Orchestra of the Penang Chinese Girls’ High School, a famous Guzheng player from Hong Kong, and a finale of Western music by Musica Sinfonietta.
A Herpetology Walk & Talk will have Mohd. Abdul Muin of USM introducing the reptiles and amphibians of Penang Hill, from 6.30pm until 9pm at The Habitat. Their normal entrance fee applies but there is no additional charge for the guided walk.
The events on Sunday 29th July are:
Sun Salutations at Curtis Crest, an outdoor yoga session at The Habitat from 6.30am until 9am costing RM 70 per person.
Walk Down Memory Lane ~ The Crag/Old Uplands School, a free-of-charge 3 hour visit to this mid-19th century former sanitarium, hotel and school beginning at 9am.
Young Explorer and Family Walk, a specially designed route for children and those young at heart to find exotic species to draw and colour in a handbook. The walk starts at the Dataran, at 8.30am or 3.30pm and lasts approximately two hours. The cost is RM 30.