With a record number of more than 22,000 revelers attending last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is working very hard to ensure that this year’s festival continues to have the same magical attraction.
STB has already enlisted bands from USA, Portugal, Tanzania, New Zealand, Poland, France and Korea to perform at the 12th edition of the festival which will be staged at the picturesque Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Kuching, Sarawak, from July 10 to 12, 2009. There will also be Malaysian bands including from Sarawak performing and these bands will add a welcomed local flavor to the festival.
The bands that will perform are Zawose Family Africa from Tanzania, Noreummachi (Korea), Moana & the Tribe (New Zealand), Red Chamber (Canada/China), Jouhiorkesteri (Finland), Muzsikas (Hungary), Inti Illimani (Chile), Jeff & The Vida (USA), Dazkarieh (Portugal), Oudaden (Morocco), Poum Tchak (France), Asika (Malaysia), Sekaa Jaya Jenggala (Indonesia), The Nicholas Orchestra (Poland), Lan-E Tuyang (Sarawak, Malaysia), Kinabalu Merdu Sound (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia) and AkashA (Malaysia).
Promised to be another exciting edition of Rainforest World Music Festival, festival goers can expect an interesting mix of world music from the bands. They will also showcase some of their unique instruments at the festival.
Revelers can also enrich their festival experience by participating in the jamming sessions at the workshops held every afternoon at the various ethnic houses at SCV or visiting the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar (RWCB) held simultaneously with the festival. Craft making workshop will also be held at the RWCB, besides the exhibition and sales of the crafts. Inquiry on the RWCB can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
There will also be other stalls offering souvenirs and wide range of food and drinks at the festival venue. Festival goers are assured that they will never go hungry or thirsty while they are having great time at the Rainforest World Music Festival,. In fact, festival organizers assure that visitors “will be spoilt for choice.”
The good fun will continue on with the concert held every evening that last until midnight. The concerts will be held at the main stage and a smaller stage set up at the foot of the legendary Mount Santubong and both having the luxury of the real rainforest as the backdrop.
Still going strong after 12 years, the Rainforest World Music Festival, has come a long way in making a name for it self among the world music followers who are from all corners of the world.
What started out as just a tourism event to attract visitors to Sarawak in 1998, the Rainforest World Music Festival, has evolved over the years to become the premiere tourism event for Malaysia. The idea to organize the festival was mooted by a Canadian student and scholar Randy Raine-Reusch who came to Sarawak to learn about the ethnic music. It was the sape (guitar like wooden lute) that attracted Randy’s attention and he quickly shared his view of conserving the traditional music and instruments with the then deputy CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board Robert Basiuk. After some discussions with several other people, all were of the opinion that a festival was an ideal platform to ensure that people from all over world could hear the music live. The idea soon took shape and the first RWMF was staged in August 1998 and the groups that performed were Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and many of the diverse ethnic communities of Sarawak.
Randy who went on to become the artistic director in later years, was also performing with his group Asza at the first RWMF.
Twelve years ago, only a few hundred people turn out for the concert each night. Now the audience number had increased to no less than 6,000 attendees each night and last year along saw 22,500 festival goers attending the festival over the three days.
Last year’s record showed that more than 60 per cent of the festival goers were from outside Malaysia, making the festival as the best tourism attraction for Sarawak. It is also acknowledge as one of Malaysia’s best tourism icon and has been listed under the events to be promoted by Tourism Malaysia worldwide.
And, the more interesting thing is that most of the festival goers will make all the necessary arrangement like booking rooms to return to the next year’s event before they left for their respective home at the end of the festival. Thus, the festival has many repeat visitors each year.
Over the past decade, more than 100 bands had graced the RMWF stage and the crowd’s favorite over the years were brought back to perform at the festival during its 10th anniversary celebration in 2007. The anniversary celebration had been labeled by ardent followers of the festival as a reunion of best of the best.
Apart from the diverse world music performers, another important aspect of the festival is the spirit of volunteerism among those who had readily help in the smooth running of the event. Out of the few hundred volunteers, more than half of them still continue to help out at the festival until today.
The help from the volunteers is highly appreciated by Sarawak Tourism Board as the fete of organizing an event as big as RWMF is not easy task.
“The RWMF would not be possible without the dedicated band of volunteers who have helped year after year, giving their best without any reward other than knowing that they had contributed to a great event,” said STB Chief Executive Officer Gracie Geikie. No volunteers, no RWMF. Period.
The RWMF has also gained international recognition by winning prestigious awards like the Pacific Asia Travel Associations Gold Award in 2006, and recently the Aseanta Award of Excellence 2009 for Best ASEAN Marketing and Promotional Campaign category. The Aseanta Award was for last year’s RWMF.
Tickets for the Rainforest World Music Festival 2009 are available online from January 2009. The tickets are priced at RM90 for one-day pass and RM250 for three-day pass each for adult while tickets for children between three and 12 years old is priced at RM45 for one-day pass and RM100 for three-day pass each.
The tickets are available online at www.ticketcharge.com.my and STB is offering an exclusive design t-shirt to those who purchase two three-day passes now. The offer is for only 500 t-shirts and within limited time.
The sales of the three-day passes is also offered until June 26 and after that date, only daily passes will be on sale.
As for sales of ticket at the gate during the actual festival date, the tickets will be sold at RM100 for one -day pass (adult) and a child one-day pass is RM55 each.
STB is encouraging festival goers to buy their tickets early to avoid the last minute rush.
STB is also honored to have Malaysia’s sole satellite TV broadcaster Astro as the exclusive media partner. RWMF 2009 is also supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia and Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism, Sarawak and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia.
There are daily flights to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu on Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia and from Singapore on AirAsia, Silk Air and Tiger Airways. Royal Brunei Airlines also has regular flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching.
Details and update on RWMF 2009 are available on the festival website at www.rainforestmusic-borneo.com. The website is also enjoying a steady stream of visitors with an average of 7,000 hits daily.