LONDON - Next month, Finsbury Avenue Square in London's financial district will be transformed into a techno-garden with haptic musical plants, art installations and delicious local food and drink to commemorate Singapore's bicentennial.
The three-day festival will be held in the pedestrianised square from June 13 to 15 and the theme is Singapore: Where Explorers Meet, an interpretation of the nation's history as well as present-day and future Singapore.
Some 6,000 visitors are expected to attend the free event, which is organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and curated by Singapore creative agency In The Wild together with London design agency Bompas & Parr. Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will officially open the event with Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin.
Speaking to The Straits Times, STB's area director for Northern and Western Europe Jason Chan said: "We would like British travellers to experience a taste of our culture, history and passionate creative talent in the hope of inspiring them to visit (Singapore) during our bicentennial year.
"We want to communicate that there are many deeper, inspiring stories and authentic experiences waiting for travellers to discover."
The multi-sensory immersive garden event was conceptualised last December. It will feature a tropical garden experience by Singapore botanical designer Humid House; food by one-Michelin-starred progressive Peranakan restaurant Candlenut in Dempsey Hill; Old Chang Kee curry puffs; botanical cocktails created by award-winning bar Native in Amoy Street in collaboration with London bar Lyaness; as well as the iconic Singapore Sling cocktail by Raffles Hotel.
The space will also include a haptic plant soundscape created by British sonic artist and environmental designer Mileece and Singapore electronic duo .gif; a photo exhibition of faces and stories by New York-based Singaporean photographer Lenne Chai; and music by DJ Kiat of audiovisual collective Syndicate.
Chef-owner of Candlenut Malcolm Lee will showcase three dishes: His signature buah keluak ice cream, an original creation made with black nut paste and Valrhona chocolate; Ye Ye Chicken Curry, an aromatic, spicy white curry made with green chilli padi and white peppercorns - a recipe that has been passed down four generations; and crab curry with blue pea flower rice.
Chef Lee, who will be bringing along 20kg of buah keluak paste for the event, said: "I first created the ice cream in 2013. Cooked buah keluak releases the smell and flavour of coffee and dark chocolate. These characteristics are what got us thinking about using it in a dessert.
"We are serving our ice cream at the event because we thought it will be interesting for people who have never heard of buah keluak to taste its unique flavours. And for those who already know about it, many may not have tried it in the form of a dessert."
SINGAPORE: WHERE EXPLORERS MEET
Where: Finsbury Avenue Square, London EC2M 2PA
When: June 13 and 14, 11am to 8pm; June 15, noon to 6pm. (London time)
Admission: Free. Event-goers must pay for food and drink, priced at £6 (S$10.50) an item.
The event site at Finsbury Avenue Square, which is co-owned by Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and British Land, was chosen for its high foot traffic from both the leisure and business communities. The event also coincides with the GIC Global Conference which takes place in London the same week.
STB said that travellers from Britain hit a record high of more than 588,000 last year, a year-on-year growth of 13.5 per cent.
Mr Chan said: "We hope this showcase with help raise the awareness of Singapore and entice more travellers to consider visiting us."
Correction note: An earlier version of this story said Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will officiate when the festival is launched by STB chief executive Keith Tan. The Singapore Tourism Board has since clarified that Mr Tharman will officially open the event with Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin.