Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts 2019 Returns!

Senses Syahirah Mokhtazar 12-May-2019

Art, culture and tradition have evolved through generations and branched out across the islands and cities of the nusantara (Malay Archipelago). Yet the region is still held together by the same rooted beliefs and culture.

This unique identity is what makes up the nusantara and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts 2019. It celebrates the richness of art, culture, heritage and history of the Malay Archipelago.

Taking place from 27 – 30 Jun 2019 and coinciding with the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the 18th edition of the festival returns this year with three newly commissioned works.

The festival will present its first ever commission for the Esplanade Theatre, Fatih – The Prince & The Drum by Nadi Singapura and directed by the acclaimed Garin Nugroho, which shines the spotlight on percussion, one of the oldest art forms.

Fatih – The Prince & The Drum by NADI Singapura


It will also present its second co-commission with Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts, a film-to-stage production of The Seen and Unseen. This work shares the moving story of a pair of Balinese twins through dance and movement. After the presentation at Pesta Raya, The Seen and Unseen will be presented in Australia.

Finally, the festival will also present its first ever ticketed and commissioned work for children aged four to seven years old – Teroka! Kerana Nila written by Adib Kosnan and directed by Noor Effendy Ibrahim. This interactive children’s theatre work follows Sang Nila as he befriends mythical creatures on his journey to find home.

In addition to that, many Singapore artists will take centre stage at Pesta Raya this year, including Syarif, Akeem Jahat, The Jazz Djogets, P7:1SMA and Perkumpulan Seni. Long-time festival goers and otais (old-timers) can also look forward to a night of keroncong with Indonesian music diva Hetty Koes Endang and rock darlings from the region Hujan and Padi Reborn who come together for one evening only at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Padi Reborn


Audiences will also be treated to the rare kuda kepang dance at the festival opening at the Esplanade Forecourt Garden, and Mak Yong performances through the weekend, an artform encompassing elements of dance, music, acting, singing and storytelling which has been recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

For more information on the list of ticketed and free programmes, visit

  • Cover photo courtesy of PUSAKA, photography by Ahmad Fikry Mohd Anwar.
  • Other photos courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay