Formula 1, new clubs, world-class festivals and much, much more.

24th Singapore International Film Festival

Respected by film aficionados around the region for its eclectic programming, the annual Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF), which usually takes place in April, has a new team at the helm. You can expect a list of fresh, bold and cutting-edge films and events over its 11-day run. With a theme of “Watch/Different” the festival program includes the premiere of 3D documentaries alongside newly introduced fringe activities like a symposium by Lucasfilm Animation that’ll give budding filmmakers and enthusiasts a glimpse into the magic of movies.
Sep 15-25. Shaw Lido, 350 Orchard Rd., 6732-4124 and various venues, http://siff.sg

The Opening of Avalon

The glamorous Hollywood-based club sensation Avalon will become Singapore’s largest club yet (at 17,000 sq feet) when it opens at Marina Bay Sands’ Crystal Pavillion. The nightspot promises an endless onslaught of big name DJs and international acts—just check out the lineup when it officially launches on Sep 16: Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Benny Benassi, Sander Van Doorn, M.A.N.D.Y, Boy George, Sander Kleinenberg, Simian Mobile Disco, and The Toxic Avenger.

“Avalon’s one-of-a-kind space combined with our 20-plus years of experience providing nightlife at the highest level, should at least entice people to give us a try,” says creator Steve Adelman, somewhat modest about the club’s pull, considering that its original Hollywood counterpart has hosted after-parties for the Oscars, Grammys and MTV Music Awards. “Our offering will be multi dimensional and will include three separate areas—a bit of something for everyone.”

Pangaea, Avalon’s even edgier sister club, located on the first floor of the Crystal Pavillion, will open a few weeks later, so stay tuned for updates.
Avalon launches Sep 16, followed by an all-star lineup from Sep 21-25, including dance music festival Avalon at Large on Sep 21-23. Log on to http://avalon.sg to book your tickets and for updates.

2011 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix

Already established as one the most glamorous events in motorsport, the Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix returns for its fourth edition bringing with it an array of concerts, events, parties, shopping offers and more. Sebastian Vettel and the team at Red Bull Racing might have this year’s Driver and Constructor titles all wrapped up, but the allure and excitement of the night race remains as strong as ever.
Sep 23-25. Marina Bay Street Circuit. $38-1,288 (B935-31,717) from www.singaporegp.sg.

da:ns Festival

Besides traditional favorites like the sumptuous pirouettes and flamenco-inspired pieces from Ballet Nacional de Espana, the contemporary dance performances in Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother and 6,000 Miles Away with acclaimed French ballerina Sylvie Guillem will charm even the most clueless novices.
Oct 7-15. Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Dr., +65-6828-8377. $15-120 (B370-2,955) from Sistic. Log on to www.dansfestival.com for the full lineup.

Singapore Writers Festival

One of the few literary festivals in the world that is truly multi-lingual, The Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) celebrates its 20th year as a standalone event. The 2011 edition takes place from October 22-30 with “Transaction” as its theme. It delves into how pivotal commercial exchanges are in our daily lives—from our individual purchase and consumption of goods and services, including the arts, to the larger business dealings and trade that underpin the global economy today. The stellar line-up of literary talent taking part in this year’s festival includes economist Steven Levitt, journalist Andrew Sorkin, and novelists Vikas Swarup and Chen Guanzhong.
Oct 22-30. Various venues. Ticket details TBA. For more information and ticketing details visit www.singaporewritersfestival.com.

The National

They might have missed out playing in the Mosaic Music Festival earlier this year due to the calamitous natural disasters in Japan, but come Nov 6, fans will finally get their chance to watch the Singapore debut of American indie rock outfit The National. Expect tunes from their latest album, High Violet, but we can’t wait for a smattering of older numbers like “Fake Empire”, “Slow Show” and “Secret Meeting” from Alligator and Boxer. We advise you to knock back a couple of potent concoctions (preferably absinthe-based ones) and soak in Matt Berninger’s wry baritone about the squalor of urban disaffection and romantic disillusionment.
Nov 6, 8pm. Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Dr., +65-6828-8377. $40-120 (B985-2,955) from www.sistic.com.sg, on sale from September 1.

New Restaurants

One of Singapore’s biggest draws is its food and barely a week goes by without the opening of a new restaurant.

The Dempsey Brasserie (#01-03 Blk. 7 Dempsey Rd., +65-6473-4500) has quickly established a firm following with its laidback vibe and the menu echoes that sentiment with simple eats like the sausage board ($17 [B420]), as well as mussels and fries (from $20 [B493]). There’s also a good selection of booze.

The local coffee scene is enjoying an explosion of third wave artisanal coffee spots. The latest addition to an ever-growing stable of cafés about town is Jimmy Monkey (#01-51 one-north residences, 9 one-north Gateway, +65-6777-8470) which uses a house blend of Central American Rain Forest Alliance beans or single origin Guatemalan Antigua Finca Medina seeds to make truly addictive cuppas (from $4 [B99]).

Award-winning restaurant Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra (#B1-01A The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Ave., +65-6688-7295) proudly presents Punjabi food in a sleek and modern setting (after all, it’s in MBS). The menu is fairly extensive with unique items such as Norwegian salmon tikka ($35 [B862]) and tandoori foie gras with mango chutney ($45 [B1,110]).

Richard III

The Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) presents Richard III, the final play of The Bridge Project, a three-year collaboration between New York’s BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), London’s The Old Vic and UK-based indie production house Neal Street Productions. With Hollywood A-Lister Kevin Spacey of American Beauty fame playing the colorful tyrant and Sam Mendes directing, you can expect something saucy and special. Critics have been raving about the production. “It’s just one of the best theater productions I have ever seen,” says Charlotte Nors, the SRT’s Executive Director who caught the show in London. “It all comes together—great set, evocative score, standout performances and a compelling story.”
Nov 17-26. Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Dr., +65-6828-8377. $60-345 (B1,477-8,500) from www.sistic.com.sg.

Affordable Art Fair 2011

Started back in 1999, The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) does pretty much what it says on the tin and offers art works all for under S$10,000 (B247,000). Forget the art critics, dealers and auction houses with their pomp and circumstance; the AAF is all about personal taste, and offers more than just traditional options. “This year, we are looking to offer visitors different types of art such as media art in the form of lightbox installations, in addition to the traditional canvas or paper types of works,” says Alan Koh, the AAF’s marketing manager. Free talks will also be conducted by leading art experts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, as well as workshops about art techniques. Be sure to check out the Recent Graduate show, as it will be showcasing the latest bright young things from Singapore’s art schools.
Nov 18 and 20 11am-6pm, Nov 19 11am-8pm. F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard. $7-10 (B172-246).

Essentials

Getting There

Daily direct flights from Bangkok to Singapore are available from Singapore Airlines (from B7,745, www.singaporeair.com), Cathay Pacific (from B5,570, www.cathaypacific.com/th), THAI Airways (from B12,545 all inclusive, www.thaiairways.com), JetStar (from B5,400, www.jetstar.com) and AirAsia (from B5,040, www.airasia.com).

Where to Stay

The last year has seen a number of boutique and four to five star establishments opening around the city.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel (80 Collyer Quay, 6333-8388. www.fullertonbayhotel.com), is a striking member of the Fullerton Heritage precinct, right on the edge of Marina Bay. Spectacular views are to be expected. Rates start at S$368 (B9,120) a night.

With its facade retaining an art deco-style from the 1920s, Wanderlust (2 Dickson Rd., 6396-3322. www.wanderlusthotel.com) blends in nicely with the vibrant shophouses of Singapore’s Little India enclave. Each of the hotel’s four floors has its own theme created by renowned local design firms. Rooms are available from around S$189 (B4,684) a night.

On a site known more for its historical importance and open-air concerts, Hotel Fort Canning (11 Canning Walk, 6559-6769) opened late last year. Sophisticated (think TWG tea, Poltrona Frau furniture and Bowers & Wilkins iPod docks), the hotel is also where you’ll find the first Thann Sanctuary outside Bangkok. Rooms start at around $300 (B7,435) a night.