In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore and changed the course of our history, leaving a heavy mark on both the economy and heritage of our island. Fast forward 200 years and we’re in 2019, celebrating the Singapore bicentennial.
Check out the below events that celebrate our rich history.
1. iLight Singapore – Bicentennial Edition
While the iLight Singapore festival happens every year, we now also have the Bicentennial Edition based on the theme ‘Bridges of Time’. Launched by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore River on Jan 28, the art installations explore the topic of connectivity, while reflecting on Singapore’s history and growth with the rest of the world. The pieces also aim to showcase a better and more sustainable future.
The light-up spans the entire length of Marina Bay, as well as the historical areas of the Civic District, Singapore River and Raffles Terrace at Fort Canning Park.
It will run from Jan 28 to Feb 24.
2. Light to Night Festival 2019: Traces and Echoes
Spearheaded by National Gallery Singapore, the Light to Night Festival takes on the theme of Traces and Echoes, and features an array of over 50 tantalising art encounters and multi-sensorial experiences for visitors of all ages.
Each edition of the Festival presents unique works that prompt visitors to pause and reflect, while they experience a journey with art and stories that push boundaries.
This coming weekend on Feb 1 to 3, there is free admission to all exhibitions and ART x SOCIAL, where you can fuel up at the food and beverage stalls. Click here to check out the full line-up.
The festival will run from Jan 28 to Feb 24.
3. BALIKSG: Reflections of Singapore
Don your sneakers and take a walk at this new augmented reality (AR) experience, which you’d have to download a smartphone app for. Visitors will be taken along two key routes — Singapore River and Fort Canning Hill, where they’ll scan markers at various spots to enjoy the immersive clever tour created by the National Heritage Board and National Parks Board.
BaliksSG allows people to revisit historical events and “interact” with early settlers along the river or to Fort Canning. They’ll get glimpses into what life was like in the 19th century on the Forbidden Hill. Witness the signing of the 1819 treaty at the Padang, listen into a probable conversation between Sir Stamford Raffles and Major William Farquhar when they set foot on our shores, and see Fort Canning as it was when it was known as Bukit Larangan and Government Hill.
Note Singapore River trail starts Jan 28, and Fort Canning trail starts June 1. The River trail is around 2km and takes roughly 60 minutes to complete on foot. The Fort Canning trail is around 3km and takes 90 minutes to walk.
4. Six Senses Maxwell – Public display of rare documents
Photo: Six Senses Maxwell
Having opened at the end of last year, Six Senses Maxwell, located at the intersection of Duxton Road, Tanjong Pagar Road and Maxwell Road, is celebrating Singapore’s bicentennial in a rare way. It will display rare property deeds, or indentures, that are a fascinating look back into the colonial history of the island.
Open to the public, the heritage building will be showing the collection mounted along the hotel’s walkways. The documents themselves throw open a window to early Singapore, as well the Straits Settlements. The earliest document in this collection is a fragile land indenture from Surabaya in Indonesia, dated December 1709.
5. Raffles in Southeast Asia exhibition: Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman
We’ve all heard of Sir Stamford Raffles, but do we really know anything about him?
This exhibit by the Asian Civilisations Museum and British Museum illuminates the different sides of this enigmatic figure and the impact he had on our island. Visitors will see around 240 objects that show the aspects of Southeast Asian history which most intrigued Raffles and the British.
This will also be the first time that pivotal objects pictured and discussed in Raffles’ The History of Java (which became an important 19th century reference to Java for the Western world) will be brought together from different parts of the world in one venue. The exhibition aims to be a celebration of the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Java and the Malay World.
It will run from Feb 1 to April 28.
6. New World, New Life Exhibition at Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Photo: Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations’ website
The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations is hosting a ‘New World, New Life’ exhibition as part of it’s Unsung Heroes series of events, paying homage to Singapore’s forefathers.
Travel through time and experience how our ancestors sailed across the seas. See what their living conditions were like, how they supported each other, how they nurtured the next generation through setting up schools, what kampong games they played, and so much more.
The exhibition content spans a whopping two centuries and has many interactive elements. It runs daily at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Ho Bee Concourse, Level 1, 10.30am to 6pm until April 28.
7. Chingay Parade at Chingay Carnival 2019
Asia’s largest street performance and float parade, the Chingay Parade, pays homage to the Singapore bicentennial with its theme, “Dreams Funtasia”. Exploring Singaporeans’ talent and imagination, the floats and performances will showcase what our multicultural country has previously achieved, and looks towards future milestones.
The carnival is going to be crammed with epic things to see and do, so head down and celebrate 200 years of Singapore.
The parade is on from Feb 15 to 16, from 3.30pm onwards at F1 Pit Building.
8. River Hongbao
Experience everything from spectacular fireworks to dance shows, fairground rides and exhibitions. Truly, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this year’s River Hongbao. Not only will this edition see the Singapore Bicentennial reflected in its themes, organisers have planned for the most spectacular fireworks show in the event’s 33-year history, with some fireworks displaying lasting 10 minutes!
Held at The Float on Marina Bay, it is set to be an extravaganza of lights, sights and sounds to usher in the Lunar New Year.
It will run from Feb 3 to 10, from 2pm onwards at The Float, Marina Bay.
9. Ink Mountain Exhibition
Photo: Brian Gothong Tan
As part of Art Week 2019 and in line with the Singapore Bicentennial, artists Brian Gothong Tan and Mark Chan, will share their talents with us all with their exhibition space. Marvel at Mark Chan’s paintings and calligraphy in Chinese brush and ink on distressed paper as he crafts a mythical world.
The exhibition runs until Mar 31, and is from 11am to 8.30pm on Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
10. Istana Open House
Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information
On Hari Raya Puasa, The Istana will host a special open house, in conjunction with Singapore Bicentennial. Watch local schools present performances, engage in community activities and enjoy traditional Singaporean dishes at the food heritage showcase, while admiring the scenic grounds of the official residence and office of the President of Singapore.
Happening on June 5, from 8.30am to 6pm. It’s $2 per entry and free for Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents.
11. The Future of Our Pasts Festival
During this month-long festival, lesser-known stories of communities and places of the past are reimagined through artistic mediums. TFOOPFest, organised by Yale-NUS, will showcase 11 projects by students and recent grads from different tertiary institutions in Singapore.
They have been commissioned to investigate the micro-narratives of Singapore’s history, and present them via artistic mediums such as music and art installations. Also check out film screenings and workshops.
The festival runs from Feb 16 to March 17.
12. Goodwood Park Hotel pays tribute to the food heritage
Photo: Goodwood Park Hotel
Goodwood Park Hotel will focus on the island’s multi-ethnic food culture that reigns supreme in the hearts of both locals and visitors.
Enjoy a thoughtfully curated menu of nostalgic local delights from the early days, or get their signature durian cake adorned with a white chocolate mosaic of imprinted historical scenes of Singapore and the Hotel’s illustrious past. This is one to take granny to, and hear her tales of a time long past.
The five-course degustation menu is at the grand hotel’s Coffee Lounge until April 30. $40++ per person.