We picked out the best few
All eyes on the Singapore Bicentennial Office as another annual arts event returns this month, conspicuously themed in line with those dreaded 700 years. But we’ll cut it some slack; the Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF) has done its due diligence in celebrating local heritage for 15 years, and this 16th edition should hopefully prove no different. Returning from Mar 15-Apr 7, the Bicentennial edition seeks to uncover hidden stories in unexpected spaces—from bus stops to Bedok—and spotlight selected neighbourhoods in Singapore. Here’s what we’ll be checking out.
The premier exhibition of the Festival is an island-wide one that requires you to do your own hunting. Some 100 panels have been scattered at different points in the bus routes of service numbers 2, 30, 147 and 222—the works give a peek at how the past and present of each space makes it unique. Good luck finding them all. Mar 15-Apr 7
There’s more to Peranakan heritage than just batik and kueh pie tee, but for a watered down primer, hit up the festival’s opening party at Armenian Street, which will be dishing out Peranakan cuisine, a bazaar of collectibles, nostalgic hits, joget performances, a fashion show, and even a wedding procession. It’s also your last chance to visit the Peranakan Museum before it closes its doors for renovations mid-March. Mar 15-16
The talk about conserving important heritage buildings in Singapore may have died down, but the need to appreciate what we have while we can hasn’t. Join a rare tour around two of Singapore’s modern “unloved” buildings—the former Singapore Conference Hall and Trade Union House, and Jurong Town Hall. It’s a one-day only chance to discover the secrets and stories of Singapore’s post-independence struggles that lie beneath the unassuming concrete. Mar 16
Say goodbye to Duck Tours and hello to a bus tour that will whiz you back in time. Part performance and part tour, Buses and Roads invites you onboard a moving bus to meet four characters from Singapore in the ‘70s. The journey starts from the Civic District (because where else) and continues into the past—the good old days of non-air conditioned buses. Mar 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31 & Apr 6, 7
Films are always fun. Catch eight short ones about our food heritage, directed and produced by Singaporeans for the 2018 Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition. From a three-generation strong family popiah business to the stories of a small but mighty Malay kuih shop, the event organised by the Singapore Film Society is sure to have you salivating (and maybe tearing). Mar 17
Over in Bedok Town Square, keep your eyes peeled for this original mini musical that spotlights hawker culture in Singapore, from the pioneer street hawkers of the ‘60s to the hawker centres of today. As part of the singing, dancing package you’ll get early immigrant Kong who set up shop down by the Singapore River, ice ball seller Rajesh Raj, dancing cleaners and more. Mar 22-24
It’s another immsersive theatrical piece leading audiences on a physical journey—this time around the black-and-white colonial bungalows of Temenggong House. Watch four stories come to life about the beginnings of Telok Blangah, the true story of Temenggong Road, the history of Mount Faber and the origins of those mysterious colonial bungalows. Mar 29-31
For the hungry, there's this exclusive behind-the-scenes factory tour of Hainanese confectionary Chuan Ji—which of course comes with samples of the famous traditional Hainanese flaky biscuits. Also known as salt-and-pepper biscuits (酥盐饼), they were first created by Nam Tong Lee, a Hainanese confectionary along Purvis Street in the 1920s exclusive to Singapore. Try your hand at baking the sweet and savoury pastries made from sesame seeds, orange peel, fried shallots, and other such mouth-watering ingredients.
If you enjoy the sun, feeling active, and being away from city life, this exclusive food trail takes you around 15 local farms in and out of Kranji Countryside. Farm heritage is such a crucial but underappreciated part of our history, and this full-day trail organised by Kranji Countryside Association promises a comprehensive view of local heritage farms, food sources, and the move to newer high tech farm factories. Apr 6-7
Singapore Heritage Festival takes place Mar 15-Apr 7 at various venues. The full line-up and more information available here.