After a two year hiatus, the Singapore Night Festival is finally back! True to this year’s theme of “Rebirth”, the festival is emerging post-pandemic with a new identity and a hyper-local focus on the Bras Basah Bugis precinct, celebrating its unique people, places, history, heritage and culture. Featuring 85 captivating events and installations, it’s tempting to try to catch every single one. But if you only have time for one night, we’re here to help! To spare you the difficulty of having to decide which ones to go to, here are our top 5 must-sees that you should definitely include in your list!
1) Cathay Hotel: The Curse of the Missing Shoe by Vertical Submarine
Have you ever watched a detective movie, and wished that you could be a part of that world, to experience the suspense, the emotions, the excitement of it all? If you have, then Cathay Hotel: The Curse of the Missing Shoe is just for you!
The highlight act of the Singapore Night Festival 2022, this immersive theatre experience certainly did not disappoint. As I walked into the re-creation of the Cathay Hotel, I immediately felt transported back to 1960s Singapore, greeted by a bellboy in an old style uniform, in the hotel lobby with a classic chandelier.
Without giving too much away, Cathay Hotel: The Curse of the Missing Shoe follows ASP Latiff as he tries to solve the case of the missing red shoe, the disappearance of which has caused the owner of the shoe, Feng Ling, to fall into a mysterious coma… The audience follows a guide through the Cathay Hotel and, in each room, meets iconic characters from the Cathay universe such as Mat Bond, Orang Minyak, Pontianak and Mambo Girl. They each perform a monologue, sharing their side of the story. Everyone is a suspect.
The immersive aspect of this theatre performance is truly emphasised, as characters get up close and personal with the audience. When I made eye contact with Pontianak during her monologue… Chills!
A Vertical Submarine production written and created by Justin Loke and directed by Jeremiah Choy, this show was an experience like no other, and is not to be missed.
Get your tickets for the show here!
2) Stories from Forbidden Hill by Maxin10sity
First, a little background: Stories from Forbidden Hill is created by Hungarian projection mapping production studio Maxin10sity, established by multi-award-winning 3D mapping artists László Czigány and Andras Sass alongside Tamás Vaspöri. After watching the projection mapping installation, I can understand why they’re an award-winning team!
As the exterior of the National Museum of Singapore lit up with projections of swirling blue and golden flashes, ancient wall carvings overlaying the classic facade of the museum, I felt like I was looking at a multiversal version of the National Museum. The auditory accompaniment only enhanced the experience, making every moment as captivating as the one before.
The installation also paid tribute to the legend of Badang, as the audience watched a large projection of Badang breaking free from his shackles. I didn’t know about this legend before I watched Stories from Forbidden Hill, so aside from being a beautiful visual experience, for me, it also doubled as a history lesson.
There was just something about the stark contrast of the bright colourful lights against the dark night sky that made this artwork alluring and simply mesmerising. I highly recommend making the trip down to experience it for yourself!
More information about this installation can be found here.
3) tobyato bird pitstop by tobyato
Let’s face it, tobyato bird pitstop is just one of the cutest installations at the Singapore Night Festival this year. Inspired by William Farquhar’s collection of Natural History Drawings, these adorable inflatable representations of birds can be spotted along Canning Rise in Fort Canning Park.
At first glance, I thought that these larger-than-life birds were just great photo ops. But, upon reading the information plaques (which can be found next to each bird), I realised that they actually represent the various migratory species that often go unnoticed in Singapore, such as the Grey and Purple Herons, the Violet Cuckoo and the White-rumped Shama. I was actually surprised to learn that there are so many bird species to look out for, other than the annoying black mynas that seem to be all we see everywhere!
Created by the illustrator and visual artist tobyato, tobyato bird pitstop is meant to remind viewers that, just like these migratory birds taking pit stops, we, too, need to slow down and take a breather sometimes, rejuvenating ourselves in nature.
If you’re looking for a perfect Instagrammable piece from the Singapore Night Festival, or you just want to take a nice stroll through greenery while also enjoying beautiful artworks, then tobyato bird pitstop is what you’re looking for!
Don’t know where to find them? Learn more here.
4) Discoloo Centre by P7:1SMA
Though a member of Gen Z, even I know that Disco was more than just a genre of music: it was a full-blown cultural phenomenon. Discoloo Centre celebrates exactly that. Located in Waterloo Centre, this is an event you definitely shouldn’t miss, and not just because of the bright shining Disco Ball hanging from the ceiling to catch your eye.
When Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees starts blasting from the speakers, you’ll know the show’s about to start. Audience members are greeted by dancers dressed in school uniforms and as post office and hotel staff. They represent the school, post office, and hotel that used to be located in the Waterloo Centre, before they were displaced due to the redevelopment of the area.
As the dancers took to the floor, their energetic disco moves were infectious. Weaving their way through the audience, making eye contact with anyone and everyone, it was easy to be tempted to join in the fun. I almost did (but alas, the introverted side of me won out!). Even when the music came to an end, the dancers stayed in character, leaving the dance floor in the same fashion they had come in, slow-motion style.
If you’re a fan of the disco era, then Discoloo Centre is the event for you.
Keen to get your boogie on? Find out more here!
5) TERRARIUM by Aux Media Group, Binary Style, PAPERSYNTHESIS and BIOS_ Living NFTs
TERRARIUM offers a glimpse into what technology could do for the future of nature, blurring the lines between what is living, and what is truly alive. If you’re confused about the difference between “living” and “alive”, don’t worry, so was I.
As I stepped into the National Design Centre, I was immediately immersed in an exquisite garden landscape. While what first caught my eye were the gorgeous paper flower creations in the centre of the room, illuminated by constantly changing coloured lights, I then became captivated by the digital garden growing in a virtual greenhouse, a dynamic and interactive display. But wait, there was still more to see — BIOS: Living NFTs, one-of-a-kind 3D plants that grow from seeds into mature plants.
As someone who has always been fascinated by the link between nature and technology, I found this particularly interesting. While these plants are digital and definitely not alive, they are living, as they respond to stimulants in both the virtual and physical realm.
To top it all off, colourful projection mapping on the walls of the National Design Centre featured everything from otters splashing around in water to a magnificent fireworks display. Truly, TERRARIUM has it all.
Still confused? Learn more about it here, or even better, visit the installation for yourself!
So there you have it, folks, our top 5 must-sees for Singapore Night Festival 2022! Of course, there’s no need to limit yourself to just these 5, and we encourage you to attend as many events as you can (honourable mentions include Glitches of You by Amanda Tan, or Yesterday Once More: Queen Street by Inch Chua and Tim De Cotta). When you need a break and a breather, there is plenty of food, drink and music to be enjoyed at After Dark @Dhoby Ghaut Green! Whether you’re an art buff or just someone with a free evening, the Singapore Night Festival has something for everyone.
In the words of my sister, who was initially reluctant to follow me on my SNF journey: “the Singapore Night Festival is actually … really cool”. Only running from 19 to 27 August 2022, check it out before it’s too late. Run, don’t walk!
Feature image: Yesterday Once More: Queen Street by Inch Chua and Tim De Cotta. Image courtesy of the Singapore Night Festival.
All images not otherwise credited are by the author.