Singapore HeritageFest 2016

Hawkers on the National Museum grounds in the 1960s

Did you know that lots of hawkers lined the grounds of the National Museum decades ago and people would go there and eat? We didn’t! So it was a surprise to see this picture of the National Museum taken in the 1960s!

You’ll get a taste of this when the Singapore HeritageFest swings by again over three weekends from 29 April to 15 May. There’ll be 130 programmes and activities across the island which people can take part in to discover the richness of our history and heritage.

National Museum of Singapore - Image courtesy of National Museum of Singapore

To start with, on the opening weekend, the organisers will transform the museum grounds back to the old days that you see in the photograph. Fifteen 2nd and 3rd generation hawkers will set up stalls here to sell their local specialties like popiah and prata, while people can enjoy performances, outdoor film screenings, storytelling of ghost stories (Yikes!) and a special exhibition on 80 years of radio in Singapore. You can also get on board the Storytelling Van and hear tales about the iconic sites of Singapore, or get busy with some crafty and cooking workshops.

SV Gunalan and Chang Su Hui who continue to run their family business, will be among the hawkers at NMS on the opening weekend.

On the same weekend, Bukit Pasoh will also be closed off for a street party and outdoor performances while historic clan houses in the area open their doors for the first time. Wander in and have a guided tour and see what these mysterious clubs do. You’ll also catch more performances like lion dances and Chinese opera.

From right: The Storytelling Van, Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church, Kong Chow Wui Koon.

The second weekend (6-8 May) brings the festival to the heartlands. Among the many heritage and food trails being conducted that weekend is the new Bedok Heritage Trail via a guided bus tour, and an open house at the majestic Command House. If you’ve never been there, this is a gem of a chance. Then there’s A-Go-Go Night at Kampong Gelam, with a mini concert at the Malay Heritage Centre that pays tribute to the legacy of 1960s Singapore bands like The Siglap Five and The Quests. Drag your grandfather along and make sure he puts on his old dancing shoes. It would surely take him back to his younger days.

The third weekend (13-15 May) brings the Heritagefest to Pulau Ubin, with adventure walks, music performances by local musicians, and film screenings under the stars on this nature-filled island.

PicMonkey Collage heritage3
From top right: Pulau Ubin, retro radio studio at the 80 years of radio in Singapore exhibition at NMS, the Aliwal Arts Centre, and Maghain Aboth Synagogue

There are simply loads more programmes across the island, such as a week of activities by the Hokkien Huay Kuan Thian Hock Keng, with movies under the stars, stiltwalking and dragon dances, (26 Apr – 1 May) and the first ever Eurasian Heritage Bus Tour. There’s a heap of other cultural and historical tours that you can join in — guided walks to explore the heritage of Jurong, Dakota Crescent, Joo Chiat; Indian, Chinese and Malay heritage tours, even a tour of Tanglin Halt at 4am in the morning (see how the neighbourhood wakes up everyday!), and open houses at a host of buildings that you probably have never stepped foot in, from temples to mosques and even historic schools.

There’s just too much to list, so it’s best you get onto their website for more details. Some activities are ticketed or require registration which starts on 22 April at 2pm. Get your name down early as the popular events sell out in a snap.