Sarawak’s international star Zee Avi headlines first day of 26th Rainforest World Music Festival

Dancers welcome festival-goers at the entrance of the Sarawak Cultural Village. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (June 23): The highly-anticipated Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) returns with its 26th edition today at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV).

The festival’s first day will feature performances by artistes from across Malaysia such as At Adau, Orang Orang Drum Theatre, Buluh Bekocak, Aseana Percussion Unit, and Nadir, while the headliner will be Sarawak’s international star Zee Avi, who is set to perform before midnight.

Additionally, Iranian artistes Rastak Music Group will perform showcase Iranian contemporary folk music as the group incorporates language, culture, and history to merge traditional instruments and forms with contemporary rhythms.

The programme for the first day also features various activities and workshops, such as a batik painting and ‘pangiah’ bead loom workshop by Kraftangan Malaysia, terrarium pot painting for kids, and a pua kumbu weaving demonstration.

Headliners for the second day will be Gipsy Kings featuring Tonino Baliardo, along with artistes from Russia, India, Maldives, France, Thailand, the United States of America, and Malaysia in the form of Olena Uutai, Chatusram, Fasylive, Ethno Thai Fusions Sound Band, Nading Rhapsody, Sada Borneo, and Steve Thornton with Afroasia.

First time festival-goer Pippa Callingham and her father Gerard Proust — a festival veteran — are among attendees on the first day of the RWMF 2023 at SCV. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

One of the highlights all attendees can experience daily will be a community drumming session, which aims to enter the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) for the ‘Most Percussionists in a Music Festival’.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) director of communications Margaret Apau said the total number of percussionists will be accumulated over the next three days and invited festival-goers to join in to create a historic moment in the MBOR.

“This drumming circle is a personification of the festival itself. It’s to bring people together and preach the message of sustainability and responsible tourism while also uniting people from all sorts of cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” she said told The Borneo Post at the RWMF Media Centre today.

STB expects an attendance of 8,000 festival-goers for the first day, with a cumulative 20,000 to 24,000 festival-goers for the three-day extravaganza.

Festival-goers can also expect a more eco-friendly and sustainable event as initiatives such as banning single-use plastics, upcycling materials, waste management solutions, and shuttle buses to reduce carbon emissions have been implemented.

Visitors can also use wooden chairs, tables, and tipi tents that minimise the use of plastic to provide a clean and eco-friendly atmosphere, while decorations surrounding them reflect the multicultural essence of the music, with multicoloured arches symbolising the diverse backgrounds of the participating artistes.

For the RWMF 2023 programme list, head to

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