10 highlights of the Singapore Night Festival

French artist Clement Briend poses with his photographic light installation Divine Trees, which features images of divine figures highly revered in Asian cultures projected on trees towering over bystanders, during a media preview of the Singapore Ni
French artist Clement Briend poses with his photographic light installation Divine Trees, which features images of divine figures highly revered in Asian cultures projected on trees towering over bystanders, during a media preview of the Singapore Night Festival in Singapore on Aug 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Dresses of Memory by Taegon Kim, 43 years old. An art installation in which he uses 40km of fibre optic cables to handweave the dresses. They appear floating in the dark, each dress tells its own story, as they slowly change colour through the night.
Dresses of Memory by Taegon Kim, 43 years old. An art installation in which he uses 40km of fibre optic cables to handweave the dresses. They appear floating in the dark, each dress tells its own story, as they slowly change colour through the night. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
Drum performance by ZinCo, at the Singapore Arts Museum. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
Drum performance by ZinCo, at the Singapore Arts Museum. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

The Singapore Night Festival, organised by the National Museum of Singapore, returns to downtown Bras Basah and Bugis from Aug 22 to 23 and Aug 29 to 30. All performances and activities will take place between 7pm and 2am.

The theme is Bold And Beautiful, and there are more than 130 activities spread across 10 venues, including spectacular light installations and live performances.

As in past editions of the event, Armenian Street will be closed to traffic on festival nights, which will create a street carnival experience aptly termed the Block Party.

If last year’s festival is any gauge, this year could see almost 500,000 visitors over both weekends.

Organisers recommend that festival goers take public transport because of limited parking and plan their routes using the Festival Map, which is available online (www.sgnightfest.sg) as well as on site.

For operational queries, festival goers can call the Singapore Night Festival Hotline on 8479-5352 during festival hours (7pm to 2am tonight, tomorrow, next Friday and next Saturday).

We recommend 10 must-see acts in the festival.

 1. Earth Harp

What: The National Museum will be transformed into a giant harp by artist William Close, joining the ranks of other architectural beauties across the globe which Close has worked on, such as the Colosseum in Rome. Catch his musical collaborations with local drum collective ZingO, home-grown female singing act Sound Of Sirens and Austrian acrobatic troupe Phoenix.The closing weekend with Phoenix will feature aerial stunts and an electrifying pyrotechnic show worthy of a thousand snaps.A smaller scale harp will be available for visitors to pluck at the museum's Rotunda on level 1 from 7pm to 2am on both weekends of the festival.

Where: National Museum of Singapore, Front Lawn

When: Tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm to 12.15am; next Friday and Saturday, 7.30 to 11.45pm. There will be breaks in between the performances.

2. Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap: Something Borrowed, Something New

What: It is improvisation on speed as How Drama restages its popular production of 31 playlets jam-packed into a one-hour show.Audiences grab the proverbial steering wheel here, deciding the order of the sketches.Expect madcap humour as the young company takes tongue-firmly-in-cheek digs at local culture and society.

Where: The Substation Theatre

When: Tonight and tomorrow, 7.30 and 9.30pm

3. Follies For E Birds

What: This lyrical dance performance by The Arts Fission Company gives audiences a glimpse into the world of the “kinnaree”, half-human and half-bird hybrids who will flit and cavort within the confines of the museum’s galleries, trying to establish a sense of home. Performed by both professional and child performers aged as young as three, the playful dance promises to delight even as it delivers a stark message of the effects of urbanisation on the natural world.

Where: National Museum of Singapore, Level 2, Fashion Gallery

When: Tonight and tomorrow, next Friday and Saturday, six 25-minute shows on the hour between 7pm and midnight

4.Homemade

What: Local musical talents shine again at Homemade, with urban beats and local rock sharing the spotlight this year.Catch acts such as Shigga Shay and Vandetta during the first weekend, as well as In The Groove Project, a new collaborative performance involving 10 DJs.The closing weekend features a wave of nostalgic rock music by artists such as The Pinholes and a not-to-be-missed reunion of 1990s local music darlings, The Stoned Revivals.

Where: SMU Green

When: Tonight and tomorrow, 8.30pm to 1am; next Friday and Saturday, 8pm to 12.30amInfo: For more information on the line-up, go to www.sgnightfest.sg

5. Alsos* and Dresses Of Memory

What: First-time festival venue Armenian Church hosts two works. Alsos* by Scenocosme (left) is an interactive outdoor installation made up of fluorescent flowers that emit musical notes when you wave flashlights at them.Taegon Kim's hauntingly beautiful Dresses Of Memory (right), which consist of full-length dresses made meticulously from 40km of fibre optic cables, is set beautifully against the interiors of the 179-year-old church.These two works are part of Night Lights, a series of lighting installations on display around the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct from tonight till Aug 30.

Where: Armenian Church

When: Tonight and tomorrow, and next Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm to 2am; Sunday to Thursday, 7.30 to 11pm

6a and 6b. Rom-com Film Weekend

What: All you need is love, or so it seems for these film selections, which have been curated by The Substation. Eight short tales about the affairs of the heart (including Mandy’s 8 Theories Of Sleep, 2010) spanning up to 24 minutes in length will be screened at the Rendezvous Hotel Courtyard this weekend, and at The Substation next weekend.And did we mention they are all local films? It is love, Singapore-style.

Where: Rendezvous Hotel Singapore Courtyard (tonight and tomorrow) and The Substation Theatre (next Friday and Saturday)

When: 7.30 to 8.30pm and 9.30 to 10.30pm

Info: For more information on the line-up, go to www.sgnightfest.sg

7. Afro Jogets

What: Expect some unlikely bedfellows as neighbours the Peranakan Museum and The Substation join forces to present music that represents their respective cultural leanings.Unexpected dalliances include traditional Peranakan music by The Main Wayang Co being played alongside afrobeats – a genre of music that originated from Africa – by Instigator Afrobeat Orchestra, as well as Indonesian keronchong music jamming alongside crazy Jamaican ska beats.

Where: Armenian Street, Main Stage

When: Next Friday and Saturday, 8 to 9pm

8. Singapore Pro Wrestling

What: Watch a wrestling match in the flesh, with a live ring set up in the middle of Armenian Street. There will be three bouts each night featuring local wrestlers of both genders. Matches will follow three formats: four-way fights, tag team matches and inter-gender matches.Expect a high level of athleticism combined with a healthy dose of the theatrical.One thing is for sure, you will not be spared the colourful spandex and trash talking by the fighters, who will don different personas of good and evil. While the fights are for public viewing and no blood will be spilt, parental guidance is advised for young children.

Where: Armenian Street

When: Next Friday and Saturday, 10.15 to 10.45pm and 11.15 to 11.45pm

9. Singapore Really Really Free Market

What: You can leave your wallet at home for this market with a difference – everything is really, really free. There is a mix of free items (think clothes, CDs and books) and free services (ukulele lessons, for example).Started in 2009, these markets by Post-Museum are known for their relaxed and friendly vibe. Case-in-point: there have been people offering free hugs and smiles in past editions of the market. Do not be greedy, though, and take only what you need.Those with items or services to give away can contact the organisers at www.facebook.com/srrfm.

Where: 51 Armenian Street (within the former premises of Select Books)

When: Next Friday and Saturday, 8pm to midnight

10. Festival Village

What: Another first for the festival is a chill-out area for visitors known as the Festival Village, located across the road from The Cathay. Snack on pulled pork buns and cheese steaks and desserts such as durian creme brulee and Dutch pancakes, or poffertjes.Those who need an energy booster can head to Justin Metcalf’s Coffee for a shot of caffeine crafted by a master barista trainer. You can also catch live music performances and film screenings every night. Those who love to sing can show off their vocals at special open mic sessions that will be conducted at different times of the night.

Where: Cathay Green

When: Tonight and tomorrow, next Friday and Saturday, 7pm to 2am