Singapore Night Festival

Prepare to be amazed

Actors Syaiful ‘Ariffin (left) and Julius Foo will perform in House Of Curiosities.
Actors Syaiful ‘Ariffin (left) and Julius Foo will perform in House Of Curiosities. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

This year's event includes a steampunk production, giant puppets and popular light show

Gigantic puppets, steampunk fantasy and a block party - this year's Singapore Night Festival returns with the theme of Inventions And Innovation to light up the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct.

Taking place over two weekends on Aug 19 and 20 and Aug 26 and 27, the activities will run from 7.30pm till 2am.

A highlight this year is Invasion, a supersized puppetry show with prehistoric creatures and aliens battling among humans on the lawn of the National Museum of Singapore. The free show is by Dutch street theatre company Close-Act and will be held on the second weekend of the festival.

Another show to look out for is the multidisciplinary steampunk production, House Of Curiosities, featuring funky characters and elaborate mechanical props that rotate and emit smoke. The show is presented by Sweet Tooth, the community and outreach arm of home-grown theatre company Cake Theatrical Productions.

Organised by the National Museum of Singapore, the annual night festival draws hundreds of thousands of people out onto the streets till the wee hours. They can visit museums that open till late for free, watch roving performances or enjoy snacks at a special food village.

This is the ninth year the festival is being held. Last year, it achieved a record attendance of more than 600,000 people.

This year's edition covers a larger area, extending to Purvis Street. The Mint Museum of Toys will also join in as one of the 70 partners of the festival and extend its opening hours.

Featuring rotating, smoke-emitting props, the two-hour ticketed production of House Of Curiosities centres on a character called Professor Chambers, who has invented a mechanical heart which he thinks can bring life to machines. Along the way, he meets various characters, including the villainous mechanical octopus, Lady Kraken.

The performance comprises various elements, including a parade, tea party, fashion show and magic show.

Ms Natalie Hennedige, 42, artistic director of Cake, says: "We all need to go back to that childhood place. It's that sense of wonder, of fun and to just be swept away by a story."

Tickets cost $16 and the show runs nightly over the two weekends.

Returning to this year's festival is the popular light installation component, Night Lights, featuring 14 light installations around the festival grounds.

One of the works is Keyframes by French collective Groupe Laps, featuring lit-up stick men clambering on the facade of the National Museum of Singapore, as well as upsized light installation versions of retro computer games such as Space Invaders.

Earlier this year, the festival had run an open call for home-grown artists to submit proposals for Night Lights for the first time. The three installations that were picked will be revealed at a later date.

Night Lights runs from Aug 19 to 27, with installations lit up till 2am on festival days and till 11pm from Aug 21 to 25.

Over at Armenian Street, there will be a street party, The Bloc Party, for which the road will be closed on both weekends.

Highlights include a motorcycle convoy by Harley Davidson Singapore and music acts programmed by The Substation.

There will also be a Festival Village with food and entertainment options held at the Singapore Management University campus green and university square.

The organisers are also gearing up for the festival's 10th edition next year and hope to involve the stories of its home-grown audiences, such as those from die-hard fans and people who have proposed marriage during the festival. More details will be revealed at a later date.

For more information on the festival, go to www.nightfest.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Prepare to be amazed'. Print Edition | Subscribe