With the theme “Home – What We Love About It”, Singapore HeritageFest 2011 kicked off yesterday, across multiple venues around the island, in colourful fashion.
Targeting 2 million visitors, this annual cultural extravaganza happening from 15 to 31 July offers a buffet of cultural experiences. There is something for everybody – nostalgic exhibitions, heritage trails, unique workshops, energetic concerts, fabulous food, fine handicrafts, heart racing competitions, and more.
With the aim of bringing heritage to your doorsteps, this year’s action-packed calendar shines the spotlight on the homes of 85% of Singaporeans, namely our HDB heartlands and their malls.
Other than the Festival Opening at Ang Mo Kio (the open field between Ang Mo Kio Central 2 and 3), you can check out various activities happening at shopping malls like North Point, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Jurong Point, Bedok Point, Novena Square, Compass Point and Parkway Parade.
Lovers of live music can swing to a blast from the past at Hilly Happenings at Fort Canning Park. Enjoy tunes from performers both heritage and contemporary with performers like the Robert Fernando, the Ferdinand Brothers, John Molina, Sylvia Ratonel, Jack and Rai, and more.
Thanks to my colleagues at NHB, I had the privilege of attending the festival opening this morning at the open field behind Ang Mo Kio Public Library. Recreating how Singapore’s kampong lifestyle was like back in the 1960s, I was swept by a wave of nostalgia, surrounded by recreations of provision shops, living rooms, kitchens, and artworks which depicted life in the “good old days”.
Being from the National Art Gallery, it was especially heartening to see works from artists like Chua Mia Tee, Liu Kang, Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen, Amanda Heng and Michael Lee being featured in the section called “Singapore Portraits”.
Graced by our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the Guest Of Honour, the opening ceremony kicked off as part of a doublebill special which coincided with the launch of the Ang Mo Kio Heritage Trail.
A scintillating kaleidoscope of cultural performances brought the launch to a rowsing opening, with a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and other cultures (including hip-hop and breakdance) blending in with harmony and grace.
This year’s launch is especially meaningful for me as Ang Mo Kio was the neighbourhood I frequented most during my teenage years. When I was ill, I used to visit my mum who worked at Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic as a staff nurse. I also chilled out at the cinemas here during my “nights out” during NS at Seletar Camp, and jogged around the estate from my former place at Yio Chu Kang Road. While some parts of Ang Mo Kio have changed, I’m glad to see that sections of the estate have preserved their charm and character.
For more action, check out my photos of the Festival Opening below.
Log on to the Singapore HeritageFest website for more details of the events.