Penang Hill Festival to bring back glory of the hill

THE Penang Hill Festival, which is one of the most anticipated events since it started in 2018, returns this year for the fourth edition from July 21 to 23.


State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said this year’s festival is special as its organiser, the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Penang Hill Railway which began its operations in 1923.


He said with the steady recovery of tourism from the pandemic, he is confident that the Penang Hill Festival will jointly boost the local tourism scene in tandem with the efforts taken by the state government.


Yeoh (centre) holding a press conference on Penang Hill Festival 2023. With him are Cheok (left) and Shahrul Aman (right). Yeoh says Penang Hill Festival 2023 will be an enjoyable event for both young and old.


“Penang Hill attracted 1.4 million people in 2022 and the first three months of this year, it has already received over 400,000 visitors.


“Our iconic Penang Hill continues to become one of Penang and the nation’s most celebrated landmarks, favoured by visitors around the world.


“The annual festival offers visitors and locals a glimpse of Penang Hill’s uniqueness from its century-old railway, to its lush greenery rich biodiversity that was certified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site in 2021,” Yeoh said during a press conference in Komtar today.


He added that visitors could expect an array of exciting and interesting programmes ranging from talks, heritage and nature discovery walks, exhibitions, photography and videography workshops, and not forgetting Penang Hill Festival’s signature event – ‘Music on the Hill – East Meets West’ on July 22.


Cheok says many parts of the Penang Hill history are waiting to be discovered.


PHC general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said the festival is designed as an educational experience besides bringing people close to nature.


“We want to make this programme a family-oriented one to bring the people to the hill to enjoy nature, enjoy the cool fresh air and enjoy the history. That is why the slogan for the festival is called ‘See the Nature, Feel the History’.


“We want the people to know Penang Hill better. This year, we specially design talks around rejuvenating Penang Hill.


“Since a freak storm happened in 2017, we have seen over 300 landslide spots on the hill. We want to share with you the challenges and the work that we have done to restore, rehabilitate and rebuild the hill.


“In 2017, we promised to bring the glory back to Penang Hill and now are seeing the visitors are coming back.


“In 2019, we have a record of 1.86 million visitors. Then, Covid hit. But in the first three months of this year, we have over 400,000 visitors. By year-end, we should expect closer to the number of visitors in 2019.


“So, we continue to invest in Penang Hill. And thank you to the state government for investing millions to support us. We want to make Penang Hill continue to be a very safe place,” Cheok said.


He said PHC also has ‘Experience Penang Hill’ packages that can be customised for different needs and interests.


He said there will be talks by experienced consulting engineers, and authors, a photo exhibition, and workshops by professional photographers from Canon Malaysia.


Some of the highlights of the festival, he said, are:

Talk – Rejuvenating Penang Hill: The Journey Continues …; Talk: Penang Hill & Its Vicinity – 100 Years of Wonders; Talk & Walk: Craig Heritage Trail; Night Exploration; Junior Rainforest Exploration; Penang Hill Photo Exhibition; Sunrise & Time-Lapse Photography and Sunrise & Time-lapse Photography Workshop.


Cheok said the finale is the ‘Music on the Hill – East Meets West’ which returns by popular demand, featuring Musica Sinfonietta Penang, a prominent homegrown orchestra consisting of talented young and professional local musicians conducted by resident conductor Lo Mei Yoke.


There will also be other performances from a boria troupe, talented classical sitar and table performers, and a Chinese orchestra to liven up the whole spirit of celebration.


“Each time a visitor comes back to Penang Hill, I hope the visitor will have a different feeling as many parts of its history are waiting to be discovered,” Cheok said.


Others present at the press conference were former Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, Tourism Malaysian northern region director Shahrul Aman Sabir Ahmad, Penang Global Tourism chief executive director Ooi Chok Yan, PHC senior manager (corporate management services division) Shahril Nizam Cheah Abdullah, Canon Malaysia (head of branch) Daren Tan, Photographic Society of Penang president Terry Tan, The Habitat Penang Hill director of sales & marketing Andrew Oon, David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace manager Terrance Oo, Little Village manager Michael Tan, Bellevue Hotel executive Parvathy Kaliappali and Nature Guide of Nature Walks’ K.P. Ong.


For more information on the programme details and registration for events during PHF2023, kindly visit or follow its Facebook page at Enquiries may also be emailed to [email protected].


Story by K.H. Ong

Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad