Singapore HeritageFest 2015 to feature more programmes over a stretch of five weekends

SINGAPORE - Members of the public will get to experience life from the 19th century till today along the Singapore River, which was colloquially referred to as the Belly of the Carp.

Next month, about 30 actors will roam along the stretch of the curved body of water, sharing stories of the river's fabled past. They will portray characters who once lived and worked along the river, including tradesmen, coolies, samsui women, a snake charmer and a letter writer.

Pushcart sellers will also line the river selling kachang puteh, malt candy and bazhang. A play, called called From The Belly of the Carp by local poet and storyteller Roger Jenkins, will be staged as well.

These riverside activities will take place from May 15 to 19 as part of the National Heritage Board's annual Singapore HeritageFest.

The 12th edition of the festival will feature more than 150 programmes and about 80 partners, said NHB on Wednesday. This is almost thrice the number of programmes and partners compared to the previous year.

The HeritageFest will also take place over five weekends from April 17 till May 18, up from the previous year's 10-day long festivities.

National Museum director Angelita Teo, who is helming this year's fest, said extending the festival across five weekends will allow more people to join in and cater to the "growing community ownership and participation" in Singapore's heritage.

"Discovering our past, and where we come from, has become integral to knowing who we are," said Ms Teo.

Highlights of the festival include a half-day symposium on heritage spanning topics such as the 30-year history of Singapore's archaeological scene, the conservation of Chinese temples, and cemetery documentation work.

Participants will also get to experience nightlife in 1920s Singapore with an exhibition in front of Little India's City Square Mall. The showcase will chronicle the socio-historical history of New World Amusement Park, which used to stand there before it closed in 1987.