The Singapore Heritage Festival may have been around for a while, with its 16th edition this year, but 2019 brings with it a slightly different slant, thanks to the bicentennial happenings. That means we’ll get a closer look at the island’s 700-year history and sift through culture, community, and the people who’ve made an impact on our nation.
At quick glance, “Find Your Place in History” features light projections around the city centre, “Ride and Discover” is the festival’s first island-wide exhibition that reimagines almost 100 bus stop panels as installation spaces, and neighborhoods in the spotlight this year include Telok Blangah and Kranji.
Over the first weekend (Mar 15-17), Kampong Glam and Armenian Street Park will host urban art installations by local artists, plus cultural performances at “Rentak Budaya,” an all-day fest at the Malay Heritage Centre, and the Peranakan Museum’s final Armenian Street Party before it shutters for redevelopment on Apr 1.
For an unusual “bus theater” experience, “Buses and Roads” is a journey from the Civic District to Singapore in the ’70s, guided by four different characters. You can also tour the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Queen Street to explore the landmark’s grounds and interiors.
From Mar 22-24, the focus shifts to Bedok, where Singaporean food culture takes priority in “Makan Dreaming,” a theatrical performance in Bedok Hawker Centre inspired by the stories of hawkers.
There’ll also be guided food tours to fill you up on local nosh and a Peranakan dining experience by Fat Fuku founder Annette Tan that takes you from wet market to her home kitchen, as well as “Balik Kampung” by Nam Hwa Opera and Nam Hwa Teochew Music Ensemble, featuring the quirks of Teochew opera.
Following that, the festival moves to Telok Blangah (Mar 29-31) for a deep dive into Singapore’s maritime history. Here, you’ll get to go on the first-ever guided tour of the Danish Seamen’s Church for a peek into the history of the community and the building, known as The Golden Bell Mansion. And at Temenggong House, the characters of “A Black-and-White Voyage” will tell you about life in the historic building in the ’20s in a fictional dramatization.
Other trails include a tour of Alexandra Hospital’s 81-year-old campus and a maritime trail through landmarks like the former Keppel Harbour and Clifford Pier.
For the closing weekend (Apr 6-7), Kranji gets the limelight, with a hop-on hop-off program called Foodpass for visitors to explore the farms around the countryside and attend tasting sessions or try hands-on activities.
Visitors can also take the opportunity to trek through the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, say hello to furry friends at Hay Dairies, traipse across Bollywood Veggies’ 10-acre farm, and hang out with local farmers at Nyee Phoe’s first pop-up lifestyle concept store, Mosscape at Scotts Square.
If all that’s not enough to keep you entertained over the next month, “Singapore Snapshots” at Westgate showcases the evolution of our country over the past 700 years, and “Deliciously Singaporean” at Tampines Mall delves into the national obsession with food through photos and interactive stations. Plus, you can sign up for guided tours through Geylang Serai, Balestier, Old Changi Hospital, and the Singapore Maritime Gallery, amongst plenty of other things to do at the festival.
Singapore Heritage Festival is on from Mar 15-Apr 7 at various locations. Free and ticketed.