Penang Chingay Parade
The island celebrates the close of every year with a colourful parade that features Chingay, an acrobatic cultural performance of balancing 40 feet tall flags!
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At the close of every year, the busy streets of Penang light up with its annual city parade. The parade, which features a procession that runs through the streets of Georgetown, has been held almost yearly since the 1970s as a part of the state's month-long trade fair, Pesta Pulau Pinang. Since then, the parade has risen in prominence to become the closing event of the month long festivities, and is now an exuberant affair filled with floats, marching bands, and acrobatic cultural performances. The winner of the annual beauty pageant, Miss Pesta Pulau Pinang, is also another highlight of the parade and takes her place of honour in the procession.
The procession is a spectacle of light and sound, with colourfully decorated floats, dancers and school bands all strutting their stuff to the delight of the crowds that line the streets of the city. It showcases the best that the city has to offer, with many cultural associations putting on marvelous displays of dancers and performers, including Chinese lion and dragon dances. But the loudest cheers at the procession are always reserved for the Chingay performers, troupes of at least four individuals balancing 40 meter long poles festooned with giant triangular flags. These performers balance the tall flags on various parts of their bodies, usually their heads and even their chins, as they make their way with the parade. The troupes often toss the flags from one member to another in acrobatic displays, eliciting applause from the appreciative crowds. These troupes train all year round to put on an impressive and entertaining performance during the parade, and distinguish the parade from so many others held elsewhere.
The parade traditionally makes its way through the streets of Georgetown, beginning at Padang Brown and ending at the Esplanade, just by Fort Cornwallis. Although the date of the parade has been changed in recent years from its traditional Christmas night schedule, it is still held in the month of December and is an integral part of Penang's unique end of year celebrations.