Penang is proud of its designation as a World Heritage Site to the point that the state has made July 7, the day the designation was issued in 2008, George Town World Heritage Day. The day is designed to allow citizens and visitors to celebrate the culture, buildings, heritage and history of the site.
|2019||7 Jul||Sun||Georgetown World Heritage City Day||Penang|
|2020||7 Jul||Tue||Georgetown World Heritage City Day||Penang|
History of the Holiday
On July 7, 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated World Heritage status to George Town in Penang. The award placed a spotlight on George Town’s cultural heritage, colonial influences and landscape. In recognition of the designation, the government of Penang declared July 7 as George Town World Heritage Day, making it a public holiday throughout the area.
Traditions and Celebrations
A community-centred festival is held each year in honour of World Heritage Day. Each year, a theme is chosen for the festival and events are centred around the theme. For example, the 2016 theme was “Mari Main” or “Let’s Play,” with events centred around sports and games of the past.
Many of the activities are centred around historical and cultural events that defined today’s daily life in Penang. The festival lasts several days and includes traditional food, arts and crafts, cultural festivities and evens that highlight both the history and the culture of George Town.
Local communities play a key role in all celebrations, providing presenters, participants, performers and folklorists who work to keep the history and culture alive. Visitors are given unlimited access to the living traditions not only of George Town but surrounding communities as well. Some of the celebrations are dedicated to rare and endangered traditions in an effort to remind citizens and visitors of the importance of heritage.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO identifies, protects and preserves cultural and natural heritage sites around the world that are of tremendous value to humanity. A location designated as a World Heritage Site set up management plans and reporting systems that outline their conservation efforts. They also develop plans to protect the site in case of an emergency and work to preserve the local culture as well as the natural heritage through education of local people.
UNESCO believes that heritage is legacy from the past, what people live with today and what will be passed on to future generations. Establishing World Heritage Sites preserves the past found in those sites for the people of today and tomorrow.