We stumbled on the Singapore Night Festival last year while we were in town and caught some of the outdoor acts. We fell in love with the experience immediately. So this year, when we saw the #SGNightFest2015 brochures, we knew we had to come.
Visit Official Website here.
What is it?
The Singapore Night Festival is an annual festival celebrating heritage, arts, food and everything in between! It is held primarily around the vicinity of Singapore’s Arts and Heritage Precincts of Bras Basah, Bugis and Bencoolen where the National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Philatelic Museum, Peranakan Museum are located. The Singapore Night Festival is presented by the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) and National Heritage Board (NHB), supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), in celebration of SG50.
Last year’s festival drew close to 500k people – a record high. This year’s festival promises to be even more special as it has exhibits commemorating Singapore’s Golden Jubilee Year.
When is it?
Dates: Fri & Sat, 21 & 22 and 28 & 29 Aug 2015.
Time: 7pm to 2am nightly.
Why go for it?
1. Being with the community: Most of us stay in high-rise apartments. We are constantly busy with either kids or our own work commitments. This Singapore Night Festival provides a good opportunity to step out of our routines and mingle with the larger Singapore community once in a while. I generally don’t like crowds but the community vibes from events like these, I feel, are good for the family and the kids – to let them know experience the spirit of their community and country as one. Besides, it’s refreshing to do a ‘walkabout’ in our heritage and art precinct with the family, in the cool of the night.
2. Being with the best of arts, heritage, food: it’s all here! It’s a unique event where curated local and international acts and art exhibits converge…for free. Almost all the events and activities (except for F&B) are free. Take your pick and you can be assured of an enjoyable time with the family just chilling and enjoying the arts together.
“Ok…now that I’m convinced, what should I do?”
Here it is – Dave’s Survival Guide To The Singapore Night Festival 2015:
Before you go :
1. Read and plan your programs and route: There’s a myriad of exhibits and performances ranging from 7pm till the next morning. Do read up and select the programs you wish to experience, the route to take and the time of these special exhibits. Here’s the official festival website: http://nightfest.sg for your reference. While detailed brochures are available from staff of the museums, its good to print the map and useful information from the website and bring them along first for planning purposes.
Picture Credit: Bras Basah. Bugis Facebook Page
There are recommended trails from the ‘I Love Museums’ Facebook Page (the 2nd weekend’s trails are not out yet):
2. What to bring, what to wear: This is an outdoor night festival. Some walking is involved. Here’s how we prepared ourselves.
Picture Credit: I Love Museums Facebook Page
• Wear loose and comfortable attire and put on comfortable walking shoes. Expect to perspire…lots (as with any outdoor events in Sg), walk a fair bit and also to stand while watching the exhibits and performances.
• Bring a flashlight – It is a Night festival and a flashlight (torchlight) is helpful to read your plans, read the map and guide your way around. Very handy too for looking for items for families with young kids like us, e.g. water bottles, bibs, pacifier etc.
• Bring a stroller – We brought Buddy along in his stroller last night to try the routes. It was manageable except for some steps. The stroller was also useful to transport our ‘barang-barang’ – items such as drinking water, umbrella, hand-held fan and the diaper bag.
• Bring along a camera (or spare battery for your mobile phone): Loads of photo and video opportunities that you would want to capture. Remember, the exhibits are not permanent which makes them special in every sense of the word.
• Bring cash to buy food and drinks from the Festival Village. Lots of interesting and delectable stuff on sale there!
3. Prep the kids: If you are bringing young kids along, best to let them have an afternoon nap. Remind them about holding hands, staying close etc. because you would be crossing some major junctions (The roads are not closed although there are many road marshals around) and there would be crowds.
4. Be there early: The festival performances start at 7pm but it’s good to be there early to find a good parking lot (if you drive) or to enjoy an early dinner at the Festival Village. If you have time, you can also walk around the exhibits in the museums first before the crowds descend. Whether you’re commuting or driving, plan for the National Museum / Singapore Art Museum area and you can’t go wrong.
5. Parking: If you’re very early, you may be lucky to park inside the National Museum grounds. Alternative parking options are available at the SMU campus, offices and surrounding hotels around. We parked at YMCA (via Fort Canning Road), which has limited lots (we parked by 6:00pm with 5 lots left) and the fee was $3 per entry (after 6pm).
6. Dinner: There are lots of dinner options in the area (along Bras Basah Road) – Food Republic Food Court, Ding Tai Fong Restaurant and an Irish Pub. You can also dine at the Festival Village. Bring your own drinking water to hydrate the family.
7. Toilets and facilities: There are washrooms available inside the museums. There are also portable toilets available primarily at the Festival Village (Green space outside the SMU School of Communications facing the National Museum).
Here’s more from our experience:
6:00pm Arrived and Parked YMCA, Fort Canning Road We had wanted to park at the National Museum but no luck, it was full. There were 5 lots left. There were toilet facilities at YMCA too. Convenient!
6 to 6:30pm Dinner at Food Republic Food Court. This is about 5 mins walk from YMCA, just opposite SMU School of Information.
6:30 to 7pm Festival Village We tried the hammocks just in front of Festival Village Stage as we waited for the first performance at 7pm. Nice! This year’s Festival Village shines the limelight on Singapore’s busking scene. Local talents such as The Lost Hat, The Glad Stones, HubbaBubbas, The Lorong Boys and Awi Rafael are set to entertain the audience. While enjoying the music, indulge in specially curated epicurean adventures (try luncheon meat fries or Mao Shan Wang durian tiramisu) and shopping experiences (handmade natural candles, artisanal jewellery, native American dream catchers and more).
7 to 8pm Watched performances at Festival Village Stage. We caught the first local band performance followed by the Flamenco dancers. We enjoyed Thai coconut ice-cream, churros and Kronenberg beer as we watched. Perfect way to wind down after a stressful week!
8 to 8:30pm Watched the Alchemy performance from across Bras Basah Road because the crowds at SAM were quite full. Not bad, still could see but would’ve been better up close. A heart-thumping story of reconciliation between Apollo from the world of Ethereal Light, and Nuri from the world of Eternal Flame, as told through the sensational artistry of Starlight Alchemy. A hot favourite at previous Festivals, expect to be mesmerised by a combination of multi-disciplinary flow arts, aerial maneouvres, scorching fire and LED performance props.
Chanced into the roving performances of SPARK! (by World Beaters Music UK). Five mysterious characters made of light and sound will take you on an immersive journey through the vibrant Bras Basah.Bugis precinct. These fascinating LED light drummers will interact with the audience, accompanied by high-impact drumming and exuberant music, beautiful lighting design, dynamic choreography and dazzling costumes.
8:30 to 9pm Watched The Anooki Celebrate Singapore projection outside The National Museum.
The Anooki (Anook and Nooki) are the world’s smallest Inuits. Watch these adorable characters come alive and run riot across the façade of the National Museum in a story specially created for the festival and Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. Dance and sing along to their irresistible tune and soak up their contagious energy! The Anooki is gigantic and cute. A must watch. Available at 6 minutes intervals between 7:30pm to 10pm.
Admired the illuminated Le Desir Et La Menace bird sculptures which were quite surreal at night. Le Desir et la Menace is a collection of three bird wire sculptures perched on the branches of the National Museum’s majestic banyan tree, creating a magical atmosphere as you approach. The artist, Cédric Le Borgne invites everyone to view daily life in a refreshingly new way. He employs precise lighting techniques to give his chicken wire sculptures life, and abolishes barriers to blend with the space around them.
9pm to 10pm Toured exhibits inside The National Museum. Highlight for us ‘And so they say’ – a series of video installation lasting about 20 minutes. Discover wisdom and life lessons from the pioneer generation in this documentary installation located throughout the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct, featuring video portraits of 25 seniors. To view the videos, wind the crank handle of the film projector. We found these videos meaningful. Tried out ‘Play’ on Level 3 as well as other exhibits around. Used washroom before heading back to the car.
10pm Walked back to car and home sweet home. Needless to say, kids slept soundly in the car. Daddy Mommy held hands contentedly. T’was a different date-night well spent (with kids in tow).
29 August (2nd and final weekend of Singapore Night Festival 2015)
Garden of Angels by Theater Tol (Belgium)
We were out running errands and decided to stop by to catch Garden of Angels, which was performing only during the 2nd weekend and were treated to a spellbinding performance! What a fitting end to another sensational Night Festival. Here are video excerpts from what we saw:
Note: Program may differ from night to night, please refer to the festival website or brochures. You may also wish to visit Cheekie Monkie’s blog for “Top Picks of Singapore Night Festival 2015 for Families“.