Happy crowds at Singapore Night Festival

One of the festival highlights was Invasion by Dutch street theatre group Close-Act.
One of the festival highlights was Invasion by Dutch street theatre group Close-Act.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Half a million people visited the Singapore Night Festival this year, down from last year's 600,000 turn-out.

Organiser National Museum of Singapore notes that this year's visitorship is similar to that of 2014, with last year being a bumper year because of SG50 celebrations.

Festival director Angelita Teo says it is important to note that "the festival has reached a scale where what matters more is the festival experience for every festivalgoer, participant and stakeholder to make this a key festival that he wants to be a part of".

"It is with their support that the festival can sustain itself," she adds.

The ninth edition of the festival ran on Aug 19, 20, 26 and 27 in the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct.

Even with the large crowds, festivalgoers seemed happy with their overall experience and the programming this year.

A light installation comprising mirrors and light effects, #shower- thoughts, at the National Design Centre, was an unexpected hit.

The work by Singapore collective LiteWerkz drew long queues as the room could fit only five people at a time who could stay for about three minutes.

Education officer Chua Yiteng, 30, queued for two hours with her friends and proclaimed the experience "worth it".

She says: "The visual effects, the sounds, the mirrors - it was all amazing. We took a lot of selfies and wefies."

Indian expatriates Meet Thakar, 40, and his wife Usha, 33, who both work in the banking industry, enjoyed the lively atmosphere at the festival.

He says: "It's quite nice to see crowds like this and have people get together - it's a much better experience than just going to the mall. It really shows the cosmopolitan culture here."

One of the highlight acts this year was Invasion by Dutch street theatre group Close-Act on the second weekend of the festival. It featured an aerial show on the front lawn of the National Museum, with giant prehistoric creatures, sinister characters and live singing.

Public relations executive Hazwan Norly, 25, found the piece "majestic" .

He says: "I liked that the creators went all out to transport the audience to another realm, complete with a crane-suspended giant aerodactyl, gibberish language and performers on stilts.

"I also appreciated that the piece didn't ignore the National Museum backdrop by incorporating shadow play on the building."

The festival grounds included the Singapore Art Museum as well as Armenian Street, which was closed to vehicles on festival nights.

Besides the more than 80 programmes, the festival also paid homage to Singapore's former president, Mr S R Nathan, who died on Aug 22.

Festivalgoers observed a minute of silence at 7.30pm last Friday. His silhouette was projected on the facade of the National Museum, and museums in the precinct, such as the Peranakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum, were bathed in white light.

An installation by Singapore artist Xylvie Huang on the second floor of the National Museum, called Tap To Donate, allowed festivalgoers to add a Lego brick to the installation by donating $2.

The money will go towards the 10th edition of the festival. The amount collected is still being tallied.

On next year's festival, Ms Teo says: "It is going to be a challenge to create a beautiful, entertaining and show-stopping cultural display that everyone can be proud of.

"But one thing's for sure, it will be a celebration of the many people who have grown with and alongside the festival."

•Additional reporting by Eddino Abdul Hadi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Happy crowds at Singapore Night Festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe