A vibrant waterway that holds many fond memories for Singaporeans; culturally-rich precincts with a charming mix of the old and the new; and a star- studded hill named after a Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements: Singaporeans do not have to look very far to learn about our island home’s bountiful history and heritage. In the 14th edition of the Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF), everyone is invited to explore Singapore’s lesser known stories through a specially curated line-up of programmes and activities.
Spanning three weekends from now to 14 May, this year’s edition of Singapore’s signature heritage festival organised by the National Heritage Board features more than 110 programmes. Created in partnership with close to 80 community partners, SHF offers Singaporeans multiple touch-points to rediscover, experience and enjoy diverse stories of our tangible and intangible heritage.
Inaugural “SHF Takes Over!” Ventures into Unexplored Spaces
This year, the festival introduces a brand new programme, “SHF Takes Over!”, which brings Singaporeans into inaccessible or less-explored spaces to uncover their hidden stories and memories. The inaugural edition of this programme takes visitors on an adventure into the heart of Singapore’s broadcast history – the Caldecott Broadcast Centre1. This iconic location that many Singaporeans are familiar with, but which has been largely out of bounds to most, will welcome festival-goers during the first two weekends of SHF. Visitors will get to explore the oldest part of Caldecott Broadcast Centre, where Singapore’s first radio station, Radio-Television Singapore, was set up.
A myriad of events and programmes have also been specially curated to transform the space. These include theatre performances such as Studio 6 by Singapore group Sweet Tooth by Cake Theatrical Productions, which will revisit scenes from popular television programmes such as Under One Roof and The Little Nyonya; guided tours by the staff and celebrities of Mediacorp; art installations including one made up of cathode ray TV sets; and even a disco party. Part of the grounds will also be turned into a retro and vintage-themed Festival Village, with food and drinks, flea markets, and throwback concerts of classic songs we know and love.
Festival Director Angelita Teo says, “SHF has, over the years, built a strong rapport with Singaporeans. Many have grown together with us, and some have even gone from being festival goers to contributors. This year, our new programme ‘SHF Takes Over!’ brings Singaporeans to Caldecott Broadcast Centre, a place that many of us are familiar with but few would have had the chance to visit. We hope that this experience will encourage our audiences to discover more about Singapore’s rich history and heritage, and to be inspired to contribute in their own way.”
Strengthening Our Partnerships with the Community
Apart from “SHF Takes Over!” at Caldecott Broadcast Centre (28 Apr – 1 May & 5 – 7 May), the festival, co-created with community partners such as artists, practitioners, schools, and cultural associations, will also go to other well-loved Singapore spaces over the subsequent weekends:
- Weekend 2: SHF 2017 @ Little India (6 – 7 & 13 – 14 May) – To celebrate the Indian Heritage Centre’s second anniversary, Campbell Lane will be turned into a canvas for art installations including a saree-inspired one, and multi-cultural performances presented in partnership with various arts groups in Little India. Festival-goers will get to witness a grand street procession along Campbell Lane, leading up to a never-seen-before fusion performance of the great Hindu epic, The Ramayana. Visitors can also go on a culinary adventure with celebrity chefs, Chef Devagi Sanmugam and Chef Sultanul Ariffin, as they swap out their chef’s hats for a day to play tour guides to bring visitors to historic eateries in Little India.
- SHF 2017 @ Bukit Pasoh (6 May & 10 May) – Home to clans and associations since the late 19th century, SHF will once again take to the streets of Ann Siang and Bukit Pasoh on 6 and 10 May respectively, in celebration of the rich history of the area, and our intangible cultural heritage. With the streets closed to traffic, festival-goers are invited to uncover the people and stories behind these clans and associations through open houses, guided tours and workshops. These are championed by the clans and associations themselves, and is true community ownership at work. Be sure to look out for special performances by traditional puppeteers, and storytelling sessions by a disciple of the famous storyteller, Lee Dai Sor.
- Closing Weekend: SHF 2017 @ Singapore River (12 – 13 May) – SHF will conclude its last weekend with programmes along the Singapore River that revolve around our food heritage and culture, another integral part of our intangible cultural heritage that continues to bond generations of Singaporeans. Paying homage to the rich hawker scene that once thrived along the river – from the famous Satay Club to the Empress Place Food Centre – the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) will present food-related exhibitions, installations, outdoor movie screenings, and performances. Hawkers will also reunite outside ACM to tantalise the taste buds of festival goers as they relive shared memories of dining by the Singapore River.
These weekend highlights will be accompanied by the festival’s staple array of programmes, including crowd favourites such as heritage tours, exhibitions, films, talks and programmes at the National Monuments, museums, heritage sites and shopping malls around the island. New partners such as the Singapore Zoo and DP Architects have also joined in the festivities, while returning partners such as the Eurasian Association and The Fullerton Heritage will be presenting a special heritage bus tour, and dramatised tours and a concert by the river. Some highlight programmes are:
- Singapore Zoo Programmes – Embark on the Old is Gold Family Trail and learn about the lives of Singapore Zoo veterans such as Inuka the polar bear, Komali the Asian elephant, Omar the white tiger and Astove the giant tortoise. Take your interaction with Inuka further with programmes such as An Afternoon with Inuka and Polar Bear Keeper Interaction.
- DP Specialist Tours – Join DP Architects on architectural guided tours of the St Andrew’s Cathedral and Zhongshan Park Integrated Development. Hear first-hand from the architects about the considerations that went into designing these structures, and learn some fun facts along the way!
- Eurasian Heritage Bus Tour – The Eurasian Heritage Bus Tour will take visitors to three locations around Singapore that tell the story of the contributions of Singapore Eurasians to nation-building. These include the Eurasian Heritage Centre, St Joseph’s Church, and the Singapore Art Museum.
- The Fullerton Heritage Programmes – Uncover the secrets and untold tales behind one of Singapore’s most iconic National Monuments with dramatised tours, A Fullerton Love Story, which will end off with the hotel’s signature chocolate buffet. Or enjoy a concert by the Singapore River with the TENG Ensemble in Where The River Always Flows.
Most programmes under SHF are free and open to the public.