Festival fever hits Singapore

Grumpy Queen Victoria will be one of the buskers at the Sentosa Buskers Festival. -- PHOTO: SENTOSA BUSKERS FESTIVAL
Grumpy Queen Victoria will be one of the buskers at the Sentosa Buskers Festival. -- PHOTO: SENTOSA BUSKERS FESTIVAL
Singapore Night Festival. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Singapore Night Festival. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Amid The Clouds. -- PHOTO: ABAS KOSARI
Amid The Clouds. -- PHOTO: ABAS KOSARI
Yellowren Arts Festival. -- PHOTO: YELLOWREN PRODUCTIONS
Yellowren Arts Festival. -- PHOTO: YELLOWREN PRODUCTIONS
Ms Seung Ah Kim. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL STORYTELLING FESTIVAL 2014
Ms Seung Ah Kim. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL STORYTELLING FESTIVAL 2014
The second annual Fashion Beach Festival. -- PHOTO: FASHION BEACH FESTIVAL
The second annual Fashion Beach Festival. -- PHOTO: FASHION BEACH FESTIVAL
Samba and breakdancers will add buzz to Ann Siang Hill and Club Street on the night of August 30. -- PHOTO: ASIA PACIFIC BREWERIES SINGAPORE
Samba and breakdancers will add buzz to Ann Siang Hill and Club Street on the night of August 30. -- PHOTO: ASIA PACIFIC BREWERIES SINGAPORE

There are no fewer than 10 festivals taking place until Sept 21, catering to a wide range of interests

Looking for something to do? Take your pick from 10 festivals that are taking place around the island till Sept 21.

From buskers to storytelling, beer to art and design, there is something for everyone in what has become Singapore's festival season, which straddles National Day and the Formula One races next month. Nest month, in all, 15 festivals were slated - the biggest number so far for this stretch - and five have wrapped up.

Festival organisers choose the August to September period to capitalise on the cooler weather and post-National Day buzz, while others plan their events to coincide with the school holidays and pack in the crowds.

Ms Christie Chua, the Singapore Night Festival's creative director, says its audience looks forward to the event every August.

"We see ourselves as the wrap-up party to our nation's birthday. August is also a good period to hold an open-air festival as the weather is nice and cool."

Started in 2008, the Singapore Night Festival has been held over the last two weekends in August for the past four years. It is the largest event of the crop, drawing half a million people last year - the same number it expects to achieve when the festival closes August 30.

It offers a spread of live dance, music and theatre performances, pyrotechnics and light installations, in addition to museum open houses in the Bras Basah/Bugis district.

Despite the slew of festivals in the same period, organisers have seen steady, if not record, attendance this year.

The biennial Singapore Garden Festival, held at Gardens by the Bay for the first time, saw 300,000 visitors when it was held from Aug 16 to 24, the biggest turnout of its five editions.

A Design Film Festival, which will screen 12 design-focused films at Shaw Theatres Lido from Sept 5 to 14, has already sold 90 per cent of its tickets. Now in its fifth year, it expects to draw 6,000 people, 33 per cent more than the 4,500 who attended last year.

Far from suffering from festival fatigue, many Singaporeans are seizing the chance to festival-hop as the events cater to different interests.

For example, the biennial Singapore Garden Festival, the NTUC Income Kite Festival Singapore and Singapore Night Festival are popular with families, with activities for all ages.

Arts aficionados, meanwhile, head to events such as Yellowren Arts Festival and the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

Ms Shermeen Tan, 29, an art director and graphic designer, says creative types are spoilt for choice this month as half of the festivals are geared towards the arts.

She attended the Japanese Association's Summer Festival held at the Japanese Primary School in Changi last Saturday, before heading to the Singapore Night Festival, where she stayed until midnight.

She plans to attend the Night Festival again this weekend, and has tickets to six of the films showing at A Design Film Festival.

"I like that Singapore has grown to a point where you have many events to choose from," says Ms Tan.

"These festivals are enriching experiences, and organisers are willing to try new things, bring in new festivals."

One drawback of the crowded festival calendar, she notes, is that people may be forced to skip some events if too many are held on the same day.

She wanted to attend Creatory, a festival last weekend where about 60 musicians, artists, designers and F&B operators performed or sold their wares in a re-purposed warehouse in Mactaggart Road off Macpherson Road, but ran out of time. The inaugural event drew 5,000 people.

Festival organisers say each event can hold its own as each draws different audiences, from heartlanders to gardening enthusiasts to partygoers.

Mr Mano Kunasegaran, director of Insurgence, which is organising August 30's Fashion Beach Festival at Sentosa's Tanjong Beach Club, says the growing number of companies willing to showcase local and foreign talent here can benefit Singapore's lifestyle scene.

"We are seeing more niches and subcultures being catered to. It's a pretty mature scene now, easily the best in the region, which means partygoers have more choices than ever before," he says.

"To stand out, events will have to push the limits of what's been done here and that's great. If you want to compete and survive, you'd better make sure people are having a great time."

This is why Ms Germaine Chong, the producer of A Design Film Festival, makes sure her team works hard to ensure that "the kinds of films we bring to our festival are the titles which will really excite and appeal to people".

In fact, organisers believe there is still room for the festival scene to grow.

Ms Ruby Lim-Yang, artistic director of arts production company Act 3 International and presenter of the NTUC Income Kite Festival Singapore 2014, which ended last Saturday, says: "Singapore has many wonderful facilities, physical spaces and great transport access.

"It has the potential to be a 'Festival City' if all the players do their part. It is not just about rolling out activities or programmes, it is about giving people a memorable experience."

vlydia@sph.com.sg


FASHION BEACH FESTIVAL

The second annual Fashion Beach Festival at Tanjong Beach Club aims to push the boundaries with more than 15 hours of partying.

Styled as a glamorous beach party, it hopes to break the Singapore record for the most number of champagne bottles opened in a single event (the current record is 400).

It will also showcase the debut of the world's first "trilliant" cut diamond collection worth $2 million by Caraters diamonds, an online diamond company. Trilliant cut is a gem with a triangular shape.

Models adorned with diamonds will strut down the catwalk in designer labels such as Jean Paul Gautier, Paul & Joe and Valisere lingere.

Tickets can be bought at the door for $38, but those with deep pockets can shell out for a VIP bed, which starts at $1,288 and goes up to $10,000. The beds can fit up to 15 guests and come with a diamond gift.

More than 7,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will be broadcast and viewed by up to 500 million people worldwide via global broadcaster Fashion TV.

When: August 30, from 11am till late

Where: Tanjong Beach Club, 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa

Cost: $38 a person

Info: Go to www.fashionbeachfestival.com

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS

With a line-up of concerts, acclaimed plays, dance performances and artist talks, this event is a treat for performance art junkies.

Theatre performances include Amid The Clouds, about two young Iranians' struggle for asylum.

Back from a year-long hiatus with a brand new name, the Singapore International Festival of Arts was previously known as Singapore Arts Festival, a biennial arts festival which began in 1977.

It was relaunched with a pre-festival in June called The O.P.E.N, a series of screenings, talks, workshops and dialogues which ran till July 12.

The second phase of the festival started on Aug 12, with productions that will run over six weekends.

When: Until Sept 21, performance times vary

Where: Performances are held in four venues, including Victoria Theatre and School of the Arts

Cost: Tickets from $30 to $120

Info: Go to sifa.sg

YELLOWREN ARTS FESTIVAL

Taking art to the heartland, this three-day festival, the second edition by home-grown art boutique Yellowren Productions runs till Sunday at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park.

It features art workshops, exhibitions and musical acts such as Juliet Pang White Noise Quartet, 53A and The Sets Band.

Visitors can also learn about 3-D paper crafting, moulding polymer clay and blow ink art in 13 workshops.

About 1,500 people attended the inaugural festival last year and the organisers hope to draw twice the crowd this year.

When: August 29, 1 to 8.30pm; August 30, 10am to 8.30pm; and Sunday, 10am to 5pm

Where: Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, intersection of Yishun Avenue 1 and Lentor Avenue

Cost: Free

Info: Go to www.yraf.org

A DESIGN FILM FESTIVAL

It may be a niche festival dedicated to elements of design, but there is something for everyone at this event.

Launched in 2010 by Anonymous, a small Singaporean creative direction and design firm, it was the first film festival of its kind in Asia and has since travelled to cities such as Berlin, Portland and Taipei.

Mr Felix Ng and Ms Germaine Chong, the couple who direct and produce the event, say they select only entertaining films which are relevant to the design industry and are new to Singapore, if not Asia.

This year, they viewed more than 100 films before picking the final 12, which will be screened at Shaw Theatres Lido over two weekends.

The 12 films include two world premieres, and delve into design topics such as architecture, fashion, photography, street art and motion graphics.

The festival will launch with the world premiere of Hakusho: The Story Of Rice (next Friday, 8pm, $25), a film by Japanese director Yu Yamanaka, who will be at the opening and a Q&A discussion after the screening.

When: Next Friday to Sept 14, showtimes vary

Where: Shaw Theatres Lido, 350 Orchard Road, Levels 5 and 6, Shaw House

Cost: $15 a ticket, $25 to attend the festival's opening film

Info: Go to www.designfilmfestival.com

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS

With a line-up of concerts, acclaimed plays, dance performances and artist talks, this event is a treat for performance art junkies.

Theatre performances include Amid The Clouds, about two young Iranians' struggle for asylum.

Back from a year-long hiatus with a brand new name, the Singapore International Festival of Arts was previously known as Singapore Arts Festival, a biennial arts festival which began in 1977.

It was relaunched with a pre-festival in June called The O.P.E.N, a series of screenings, talks, workshops and dialogues which ran till July 12.

The second phase of the festival started on Aug 12, with productions that will run over six weekends.

When: Until Sept 21, performance times vary

Where: Performances are held in four venues, including Victoria Theatre and School of the Arts

Cost: Tickets from $30 to $120

Info: Go to sifa.sg

HEINEKEN CITIES FESTIVAL

Dutch beer brand Heineken is hosting a street party on the night of August 30 in Ann Siang Hill and Club Street to mark its new City Edition Heineken bottles, which bear the names of six cosmopolitan cities - New York, London, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai and Singapore.

Expect Brazilian samba dancers, drummers and breakdancers as well as jazz musicians to rove through the crowds.

DJ and singer-songwriter DJ Rae, who is based in London and Ibiza, will spin music and Singaporean visual artist Michael Ng, known as Mindflyer, will create a live mural painting of Amsterdam on a 2.4m by 3.5m wall.When: August 30, 8pm to 1am

Where: Ann Siang Hill and Club Street

Cost: Free

Info: Go to www.facebook.com/heineken

SINGAPORE NIGHT FESTIVAL

Now in its seventh edition, the fortnight-long event returns with all its favourites, such as museum open houses, musical performances, live art shows and 12 light installations, up from five last year.

New this year are a Festival Village at Cathay Green, between Orchard and Stamford roads, where visitors can rest and grab a bite while catching live music performances, and a "block party" on Armenian Street, which will be open to only pedestrians during festival hours.

This is the last weekend of the festival. Highlights include musical, aerobatic and pyrotechnic performances by American artist William Close and Austrian-based artist collective Phoenix.

Also look out for Angles Of Incidence, an installation of mirrored pyramids which reflects light and geometric shapes behind the iconic banyan tree, outside the National Museum of Singapore. When: August 29 and August 30, 7pm to 2am

Where: Bras Basah/Bugis Precinct

Cost: Free

Info: Go to www.sgnightfest.sg

SENTOSA BUSKERS FESTIVAL

Close to 100,000 people are expected to attend this year's edition held on Palawan Beach. Now in its fifth year, there will be more than 200 performances by 19 local and international buskers, including The J Show from Singapore, Tuto Tul from Argentina and Grumpy Queen Victoria from Britain.

There will also be flea markets, artist markets, busker meet-and-greets and a chance for visitors to try their hand at juggling and spinning plates at Try Me Out zones in the festival area.

When: Sept 6 to 14, 4.30 to 8.30pm on weekdays, and until 9.30pm on weekends

Where: Beach Plaza, Palawan Beach, Sentosa

Cost: Free (island admission and carpark charges apply)

Info: Go to buskers.sentosa.com.sg

NOISE SINGAPORE FESTIVAL

An initiative by the National Arts Council, Noise Singapore is an organisation which offers those aged 35 and below a platform to share and develop their creative talents with the help of top industry professionals.

Hundreds of artworks and musical performances were picked for a series of exhibitions and concerts taking place from Aug 16 to Sept 14, as part of Noise Singapore's annual festival which will be held at various venues around Singapore.

One such exhibition, which started on Wednesday and runs till Sept 14 in the Ion basement, displays some of the best art, design and photography works by young blood.

A 21/2-hour concert by young musicians and bands, including Hubbabubba and Lost Weekend, will accompany the exhibition on August 30 and Sept 6 from 2 to 4.30pm.

More than 60 young participants were selected for mentorship with arts and music professionals earlier this year, and they will showcase what they have learnt in an exhibition and concert series as part of the festival.

There are 51 apprentices who will display their artwork inspired by the exhibition theme, In Transit, at SAM at 8Q from now till Sept 7, 10am to 7pm daily and 9pm on Fridays.

Music apprentices will perform at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre and Concourse from Sept 12 to 14, times vary.

When: Now till Sept 14, 10am to 9pm daily

Where: Basement 4, Ion Orchard

Cost: Free

Info: Go to www.noisesingapore.com

PESTA RAYA MALAY FESTIVAL OF ARTS

Celebrate Malay culture and arts during four days of performances.

The line-up includes theatre performances, dance acts performing Zapin and Malay welcome dances, Malay-language and cooking workshops, and more than 10 musical acts.

These include the first solo concert in Singapore by Malaysian pop star Ning Baizura (August 30, 8pm, Esplanade Concert Hall, tickets cost $30 to $70) and a performance by Singaporean folk singer-songwriter Awi Rafael (August 30, 9.30pm, Esplanade Recital Studio, $25).

Also check out an intimate session with Malaysian music charts favourite Tengku Adil (Sunday, 8.30pm, Esplanade Recital Studio, $25).

Most of the events at the festival, which started yesterday, are free.

When: Till Sunday, programme times vary

Where: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

Cost: Admission to more than half of the festival's programme is free. Ticketed performances cost $19 to $70 a ticket, concessions available.

Info: Go to www.pestaraya.com

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