Here’s one for all the art junkies, street roamers and nocturnal beings: the Singapore Night Festival returns with promises of aerial performances, music and dance acts, and installation artworks. And it's all free viewing.
Over two weekends on 23-24 August and 30-31 August, the Bras Basah and Bugis precinct will be home to about 50 different activities and events specially curated to be a feast for your senses and to keep you past your bedtime.
To save you from being overwhelmed by all the offerings, we pick out some highlights to get you started.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an airborne dancer
If you’ve paid a visit to previous Night Festivals, it’s no secret that gravity-defying acts are the draw. And if you can almost touch the sky, why not do a celebratory dance about it? That’s what the eccentric folk from Compagnie Retouramont have in store for you.
This French theatre company has evolved to become a highlight of arts festivals all around the world. Daredevil acts you can expect are Pyramid of Void (National Museum of Singapore facade, 23-24 Aug, 8.30pm, 9.45pm, 11pm), involving airborne dancers supported by a single crane-lifted pyramid made of ropes, and Vertical Extraction (National Museum of Singapore facade, 23-24 Aug, 8.15pm, 9.30pm, 10.45pm) featuring a topsy-turvy dance using just bungee cords and projections. Keep your breath held for this one, and please go easy on the flash photography for their safety
A gravity-defying preview of what to expect from Compagnie Retouramont
Everything’s an exhibition, even you
Feeling inspired by all the talent around you and eager to give it a go yourself? For instance, if you have a knack for translating the destructive sound of shattering ceramic to music, then have fun at Creative Destruction (Peranakan Museum, 30-31 Aug, 8pm onwards), an interactive music-making exhibition designed as a competition. Music veterans Dharma and Bani Haykal (The Observatory), Kiat (Syndicate), and Aion (Muon) will be there to throw you some ideas, too.
But if you would rather dabble in film than in sound, then pop by the SGFilm Pop-Up Cinema (Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall, 30-31 Aug, 7.30pm-1am) to potentially turn your original story into Singapore’s next biggest film. Bounce your ideas off award-winning directors such as Royston Tan, Anthony Chen, and Boo Junfeng, write your part on an interactive script board, and who knows? You might just be the next winner at the Cannes Film Festival.
Don't be alarmed, it's just the oddities of jester duo Singapierrot
If you prefer not to run around with the programme map to catch this item or that, just park yourself at Armenian Street and leave it free-and-easy. There, you may bump into a roving performer (23-24 Aug, 30-31 Aug; 7.30pm-11.30pm) and other spontaneous acts in different shapes and sizes, from wandering photographers to bizarre street gypsies. Most well-known for their cheeky crowd interactions are Singapierrot (23-24 Aug, 7.30pm, 8.45pm, 10pm), who are silent jesters with a romantic and playful sense of humour. We urge you to keep your guard on at all times, and not advisable for those with young children who may lose sleep from sensory overload.
Therapy in foods and fleas
Of course, what’s a festival without yummy snacks and collectibles you won’t find anywhere else? After all, you can’t possibly explore everything without showing some love to your tummy. Get your fill at So Sedap! (Walkway along Stamford Road from City Hall MRT station towards Singapore Management University, 23-31 Aug, 7pm-2am), a market selling local food from F&B entrepreneurs. There is also the Travelling C.O.W. (Armenian Street, 23-31 Aug), the food truck best known for serving rendang burgers, satay hot dogs, and laksa wraps. To walk off all those calories, feel free to go treasure hunting at the Bras Basah. Bugis Arts Flea Market (Chijmes Chapel, 30-31 Aug, 6pm-12am) with rare goods from Singapore’s best independent businesses and creative individuals. Best chance to grab yourself a souvenir.
If you spot this truck, it means it is time to fill your tummy
A fitting soundtrack of lullabies and noise
The screeching cicadas and croaking bullfrogs in the area will be taking a backseat as a diverse ensemble of bands, singer-songwriters, rappers, and other experimental musicians perform on or near the grounds of the Singapore Management University (SMU). Catch Homemade (SMU Green, 23-24 Aug, 7.30-12am), featuring the bands Obedient Wives Club, Pleasantry, Tiramisu, and The Electric Symphony Project. Or check out Homemade Unplugged (SMU U-Square, 30-31 Aug, 7.30pm-12am) with the acoustic sounds of Inch Chua, Charlie Lim, Kevin Lesterm Koflow, and Bushmen. There’s even more to be discovered at the Music Tribal Gathering of Jaw Benders (The Substation Building facade; 23-24, 30-31 Aug; 7pm-1am), showcasing The Pinholes, Typewriter, Fauxe, Sub:shaman, and many others.
Obedient Wives Club - fuzzpop musicians with melancholy grit
Art in all its forms
The Night Festival will not be complete without the museum's involvement, so you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice with the ongoing exhibitions open to all. Everlast by Sookoon Ang (National Museum of Singapore, Rotunda, 23-24 and 30-31 Aug, 7pm-2am) is an innovative take on poetry using a medium of foil balloons. Or if you are a collector of vodka bottles, go for Absolut Canvas (National Museum of Singapore, Stamford Gallery, 23 Aug-2 Sep, 7pm-2am), an exhibition making use of the smoothly silhouetted figures. For a dose of human interest stories, catch Migrant Story (#03-06 Public Domain, 51 Waterloo Street, 23-24 and 30 Aug, 7pm-11pm), on migrant workers who have spent a lifetime making a living in Singapore.
Lights turn buildings into awe-inspiring murals
And last but not least, the biggest treat for everyone are the Night Lights at different locations (Singapore Art Museum, Banyan tree at National Museum of Singapore, The Cathay, School of the Arts, Raffles City, 23-24 and 30-31 Aug, 7.30pm-2am), a grand showcase consisting of five individual light-projected displays staggered across the Bras Basah and Bugis precinct. You can’t really go stargazing in Singapore, but this is not a bad substitute.
Singapore Night Festival 2013 | Date: 23-24 and 30-31 Aug | Time: Various timings | Venue: Bras Basah. Bugis precinct, various locations around the museum belt