The Singapore Night Festival 2015 kicked off last Friday (21 August). This annual Festival is now in its eighth year, but I had never been to any of them in the past! There are many activities and events (whether ticketed or not) in Singapore that interest me, but many a time, the thought of the extreme crowds especially in non-ticketed events, puts me off. For ticketed events like concerts, musical and orchestra performances, they are getting more expensive and I have to be more selective these days in order not to burn my pocket!
I finally went to Singapore Night Festival last Friday night, for the first time in my life. I had decided that I should at least for once, get an experience of this festival, or I wouldn’t know if I have been missing something interesting in life! And If I enjoyed it, then I could consider going again.
Browsing through the programme booklet which I was given on my way to the National Museum of Singapore, I was impressed with the packed line-up of events for the two weekends, but I knew I could only sample a few in that short three and a half hours that I planned to spend. By the way, one thing that impressed me that night was the manpower whom I believe were volunteers, that were stationed in various locations to guide and assist the visitors with directions, information etc. Most of them were young people, and the few that I spoke with were all very friendly and helpful.
My first stop was the National Museum of Singapore where The Anooki Celebrate Singapore would be shown on its facade. I was there about 15 minutes before the first display at 730pm. It was already packed with crowds but still comfortable enough for me. I enjoyed the Anooki’s display so much that I actually stayed back to watch it again twice instead of moving on to catch the Alchemy at the front lawn of Singapore Art Museum at 8pm, as I originally planned.
The Anooki Celebrate Singapore was designed by David Passegand & Moetu Batlle from France.
Here’s a full video of the 7+-minute display. In this display, the Anooki (Anook and Nooki), world’s smallest yet very energetic Inuits, are seen running amok across the facade of the National Museum in a very entertaining spirit. Do watch to the end for their special birthday tribute to Singapore
The other two light displays within the compound of the National Museum are :
Le Desir Et La Menace by Cedric Le Borgne (France). It is a collection of three bird wire sculptures perched on the branches of the National Museum’s banyan tree.
Drawn in Light by Ralf Westerhof of The Netherlands. It is a 12m-wide installation made entirely of metal wires hand-bent into the form of a typical Amsterdam-style canal building, rotating continuously above the ground.
The Festival areas were filled with buzz – big crowds, bands and other performances, festival village etc. etc. So there was not a moment of dullness at all.
A Volkswagen Beetle to be won at the Festival Village! Many people were seen writing messages on the Beetle as part of the the festival activities.
Dining under the “stars” at the Festival Village
A stage in Festival Village – staff were busy getting ready for the next performance
Caricature artists at work
Crossing over to Singapore Art Museum, I was keen to catch Act 2 of the Alchemy at 930pm since I missed the first act but I had to give up in less than 10 minutes into the show. It was super crowded, warm and stuffy despite it being held outdoor. I was getting uncomfortable. Apart from the occasional fire props, I could hardly see the performers from where I was! Given the expected crowds, and it being an outdoor event which presumably would have no constraint on the height of the stage, I wonder why the organiser of this performance did not raise the stage higher up for the audience (especially those at the back) to enjoy the performance better.
So, I decided that I should not waste my time staying on for the performance but I was having quite a bit of difficulty to get out due to the congestion. It took more than 10 minutes for me to finally move out of the crowds! If I had to name one thing that I didn’t like about the Festival, it would definitely be the extreme crowds within the very limited space! Perhaps it will be better in terms of space, if the future Night Festivals would be held in the new art museum scheduled to open later this year. The organiser can then make use of the huge open space in Padang (opposite the new art museum) for the various activities.
Fortunately, a few little pleasant surprises here and there as I proceeded to the Armenian Church for its Hanami light display. That somehow compensated the unpleasant and disappointing experience that I had at the Alchemy performance.
Caught Spark! by World Beaters Music (UK) marching from the Armenian Street on my way
Wow, what a huge crowd at the junction of Armenia Street and Stamford Road waiting to cross the road! Armenian Street was packed with people too!
There was a Peranakan variety show earlier on (8-9pm) at Armenian Street but a rock band was performing when I walked past at about 10pm. The band was so loud that even a young girl was frightened by it! Oh dear…
I only made a very brief stop at the Peranakan Museum which, not surprising at all, was also swarmed with people. The museum was opened till 2am, with free admission.
The statue of Queen Victoria at the ground floor lobby of the Peranakan Museum.
Moving on from the Peranakan museum, I felt as though I had entered into a different world for the night, and a little discovery tour too, as I had never been to this part of Singapore at all in all my life. It was all quiet – a few vehicles intermittently, and there were hardly any souls walking on the street. What a stark difference and I enjoyed that quietness of the night.
Graffiti on the walls by the side of the Armenian Street, before the Canning Rise junction. My first time seeing graffiti on a street in Singapore!
Oops, I actually caught two men smoking at the car park behind these walls. Is that allowed?
Singapore Philatelic Museum which opened till 12 midnight in conjunction with Singapore Night Festival. Now I know where the Singapore Philatelic Museum is!
Meditations on Love and Beauty @ Armenian Church which has 180 years of history. Armenian Church is a national monument of Singapore and again, this was my first visit. I was interested to see the interior of this building but it was not opened. 😦
Hanami light display by Cie Mastoc Production (France), in the compound of The Armenian Church. The light installation was inspired by hanami, Japanese tradition of celebrating the transient beauty of cherry blossoms each spring
Wandering characters that popped up behind visitors and shared a whispered poem or a word on love
The Memorial Garden to the Armenians (in the church compound). A guided tour was on when I was there.
This sums up my interesting, first exploration of the Singapore Night Festival. I was glad that I had done so although I was all tired at the end, after all the walking and standing.
It would be impossible to cover many of the programmes within the short duration of this Festival. Perhaps it would be a good idea to make the Singapore Night Festival a month-long event in every August. Hopefully, it will be less crowded when the programmes are more spread out over a longer duration.