Explore the Rich Heritage of Singapore’s Bugis Town at the Singapore Night Festival 2023

700 years ago, the Bugis people arrived in Singapore as some of the first settlers, establishing Bugis Town, which eventually evolved into the present-day Bras Basah. Bugis (BBB) precinct. This vibrant neighborhood is set to come alive with the Singapore Night Festival (SNF) 2023, an annual event that connects Singapore’s trading port history with contemporary experiences for visitors today.

The 14th edition of the SNF, scheduled from 18 to 26 August 2023, aims to illuminate BBB’s rich heritage by connecting diverse stakeholders, partners, and artists. Organized by the National Heritage Board and presented by Samsung, this year’s festival revolves around the theme “Singapore, the Great Port City,” shedding light on the evolution of Singapore from a vital trading port to a dynamic modern metropolis. Visitors can expect a lineup of multicultural festival offerings that showcase the sights, smells, tastes, and stories of BBB, spanning 700 years of Singaporean history.

David Chew, the Festival Director, expressed his enthusiasm for transforming the BBB precinct into a celebration of Singapore’s history as an international port city. Through vivid experiences, memorable performances, and immersive activities rooted in the stories of trade and exchange, SNF aims to pay homage to BBB’s vital role while celebrating the diverse communities and historical sites within the precinct. Samsung’s involvement as the presenting sponsor further enhances the festival’s spirit of exchange, adding to the excitement generated by other festival partners and stakeholders.

One of the highlights of SNF 2023 is the projection mapping installations that will illuminate the facades of cultural buildings in the BBB precinct. Festival-goers can gather in front of the National Museum to enjoy the visual treat of “700 Years,” a projection mapping work presented by Samsung. This collaborative project, created by illustrator Muhammad Izdi, playwright Zizi Majid, and digital artist Jérémie Bellot (AV Extended), takes viewers on a theatrical timelapse journey through Singapore’s connectivity as a trading hub over the centuries.

CHIJMES, another iconic location in the precinct, will showcase works by local artists Chris Chai (Cosmicchai), Sadiq Mansor (249.png), and Ashley YK Yeo. These specially selected artists participated in a masterclass conducted by Filamen, a Malaysia-based new media art collective specializing in projection mapping. Their works, including “Port(al) City,” “Evolution of Bras Basah Entertainment Scene,” and “Birth in Bloom,” represent Singapore’s connectivity as a portal of cultures, showcasing the diversity and transformation of the BBB precinct.

The festival’s highlight act, “Time is a Black Circle” by local artist Dawn Ng, reimagines the lively disco scene of BBB’s past. Housed at the National Museum, this immersive experience invites festival-goers to don roller skates and groove to famous hits of the ’60s and ’70s. Set in a psychedelic rotunda of warm blooming colors, the roller skating rink pays tribute to the nostalgic era and discothèques that once graced the BBB precinct.

Night Lights, a signature feature of SNF, will illuminate everyday spaces around the BBB precinct with 12 luminous installations. From the Banyan Tree at the National Museum to Farquhar Garden at Canning Rise, these light installations tell stories from Singapore’s extensive journey as a trading port. Artists’ interpretations of Singapore’s rich flora and fauna, such as “X O X (two kisses and a hug)” by Critical Craft Collective, “Preserving Paradise” by Teo Huey Ling, and “Florescence” by Kristal Melson, bring the City in a Garden concept to life, showcasing Singapore’s natural environment and heritage.

SNF 2023 also spotlights the local community with vibrant performances at three locations within the BBB precinct. #WaterlooStKakis, a collective led by BBB stakeholders, celebrates Waterloo Street Stories through outdoor music, audio plays, movement responses, and exhibitions. Sweet Tooth presents “We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, until we cannot,” a theatrical procession featuring fantastical characters inspired by meteorological maps, symbolizing the region’s weather patterns. Capitol Singapore will stage “Jazz’in @ Capitol Singapore – A Night in Asia,” a vibrant celebration of jazz with an Asian twist, showcasing the influences of Singapore’s heritage as a port city.

In addition to performances, SNF will feature guided tours, film screenings, storytelling sessions, and various programs presented by stakeholders within the BBB precinct. Families can embark on mystical adventures at the Children’s Museum Singapore or enjoy traditional art practices at the annual A Date with Tradition 2023 at the Stamford Arts Centre. These experiences provide opportunities for visitors to engage with the heritage, culture, and stories of BBB.

Festival-goers can explore Waterloo Street through their own lens with the NightFest Photo Walk by Objectifs Centre Limited. This walk allows participants to capture the mesmerizing spots where new and old coexist, while Port Cities Food: A Culinary Pairing Journey down Middle Road by Indie Singapore Tours offers a delightful tasting experience inspired by port cities around the world.

To create a captivating nighttime ambiance, SNF presents three Festival Villages. The Main Festival Village @ SMU Campus Green, in collaboration with Singapore Management University Arts Festival and The Social Post, showcases works by young art talents, live performances, and exclusive food and beverage stalls. Festival Village @ Armenian Street and Festival Village @ CHIJMES, two satellite locations within the BBB precinct, offer Night Lights, projection mappings, performances, and a diverse array of food experiences.

As the Presenting Sponsor, Samsung contributes to the festival’s immersive experiences by showcasing stories of culture and innovation. Visitors can capture moments with the latest Galaxy devices at selected installations and engage with a variety of activations, including esports, fashion shows, and exclusive giveaways. The Galaxy Studio at the Main Festival Village @ SMU Green provides an interactive space to learn more about Galaxy smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Samsung also collaborates with participating artists to create limited-edition Casetify designs for its latest Galaxy smartphones, merging art with technology.

This year, SNF offers an enhanced festival experience with Night Walk, the festival’s first gamified web app. By checking in at 10 select checkpoints, visitors unlock bonus audio and digital stories related to the locations and artworks. Participants who log their arrival at all 10 stops will stand a chance to win a grand prize at the end of SNF 2023.

The Singapore Night Festival 2023 promises to be a captivating celebration of Singapore’s history, culture, and vibrant arts scene. With its immersive experiences, stunning installations, diverse performances, and engaging activities, the festival invites visitors of all ages to explore the rich heritage of BBB and create lasting memories. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to witness the transformation of Bugis Town into a hub of artistic expression and cultural appreciation.

SNF 2023 will take place from 18 to 26 August 2023. The best part? Entry to the festival is absolutely free! However, keep in mind that some of the exciting programmes may require tickets. If you’re eager to experience the incredible Time is a Black Circle, make sure to take advantage of the early bird ticket sales from 18 July to 17 August. To get the full scoop on the festival’s programme line-up and ticketing details, be sure to check out the Annex. For more information, to access the web app, or to book tickets, simply visit http://go.gov.sg/sgnightfest. Don’t miss out on this thrilling lifestyle event that promises unforgettable moments and incredible entertainment!

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