Singapore Heritage Festival goes digital!

by | June 15, 2020

More than 80 programmes are available to watch in the comfort of your home.

The Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF) is going digital fully for the first time in an effort to protect festival-goers’ safety and making it free for everyone. Usually there is a nominal fee for tours but with this format, festival-goers can live stream video documentaries to podcasts in the comfort of their homes in an effort. From learning about Hainanese delights and cooking some heritage food, to hearing lesser-known stories behind the hawkers and history of the Maxwell Food Centre, there is lots to immerse yourself in during this SHF 2020.

For this 17th edition held over three weekends, starting from June 19 to 21, festival goers get to first explore the Tanjong Pagar district. This area is popular today for its dining and nightlife, but did you know that Tanjong Pagar was once home to nutmeg plantations and many communities from all walks of life, and continues to be home to several places of worship. You can rediscover this historic district through the “Hello Tanjong Pagar!” mini documentary series, which spotlights the former St Andrew’s Mission Hospital at 5 Kadayanallur Street, or pay a virtual visit to Singapore’s oldest tea house and a well-loved confectionary store through an intimate live dialogue with local brands Tea Chapter and Ji Xiang Ang Ku Kueh.

Festival-goers can also dive deeper to learn about the communities that lived, worked and played there through the years – such as the Indian Muslim community who settled in the Telok Ayer area through an online video documentary, “Stories of the Sea”, by Hazel Lim. Also discover tales of everyday heroes in Tanjong Pagar with a digital storytelling and animation work titled “Dear Tanjong Pagar” by local theatre group Sweet Tooth.

The following weekend, June 26 to 28, festival-goers go to the idyllic coastal neighbourhood of Pasir Ris and learn the hidden stories of this former resort town. They can step back in time to the coastal town’s colourful past from its kampong days to the establishment of the historic Golden Palace Resort – through the “Hello Pasir Ris!” mini documentary series led by Pasir Ris resident Carlyn Law; a five-part “Pasir Ris, Rise and Shine” online theatrical experience by ACT3 International, and more. Local nature communities BES Drongos and Herpetological Society Singapore have also curated activities that will transport participants from their homes to the luscious Pasir Ris mangroves and up close to wildlife from the cackling kingfisher to the elusive shore pit viper!

The final and third weekend on July 3 to 5, festival-goers get to explore more of the Kallang area. The present-day Kallang is known as Singapore’s premier sporting hub, but did you know that it was also home to some of Singapore’s most iconic buildings? From the former Police Coast Guard headquarters which protected Singapore’s shores, to Singapore’s first civilian airport that opened in 1937, explore how the district and its architecture has evolved over the course of history.

Shared 61-year-old Deputy Superintendent of Police (RET) Sebastian Yeo: “I joined the Marine Police in 1977 and spent about 20 years working at the Kallang base headquarters. In addition to keeping the waters of Singapore safe and secure, I trained batches of officers to initiate them into the duties of a Marine Police officer. I also enjoyed the camaraderie of working with a close-knit group of officers. I fondly remember the tranquil view of Kallang Basin from the canteen of the headquarters. It is a scene that is close to my heart, and something that I miss dearly.” He helped keep the Kallang waters safe and secure for 43 years.

Revisit Kallang’s history through the Hello Kallang! mini documentary series, or immerse in theatrical production “Kallang: The View from Fire City”, which weaves together the landmarks and stories of Kallang through digital storytelling, animations, soundscape and interactive game experiences. Festival-goers can also relive Singapore’s sporting triumphs with a screening of “Kallang Roar the Movie”, or enjoy a digital tour by Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah about the history of popiah that ends with a live demonstration of making popiah dough and skin!

SHF 2020 will also explore our nation’s heritage through a medium all Singaporeans know and love – food! Festival-goers can relish in a feast of programmes that feature our intangible cultural heritage. Watch ‘live’ as heritage pastry-makers Tong Heng Delicacies and Chuan Ji Bakery Hainanese Delicacies knead their signature egg tarts and Hainanese mooncakes, or put your culinary skills to the test with interactive demonstrations led by heritage practitioners and culinary experts as they share their recipes for tiam tor kueh (a Teochew sweet glutinous rice kueh), rendang and sambal chilli.

Festival-goers can also expect to deep dive into lesser-known festivals of our ethnic communities such as the Durga Puja and Nine Emperor Gods Festival, as well as discover extraordinary stories behind seemingly ordinary objects found in historic places of worship. Find out about these rituals and customs, and the communities that celebrate them, through research done by history students from the Nanyang Technological University. Also, delve into the stories of hospitality and traditions surrounding betel-chewing with the Asian Civilisations Museum’s #HomeAndAwayACM photo essay, or embark on an adventure with festival guide Lala as she explores the different SHF neighbourhoods this year in SHF’s family-friendly #StayAtHome Activity Kit.

The full SHF 2020: Digital Edition #SGHeritageFest experience is available on the SHF website, All programmes are free and new ones will be added progressively to the website at the start of each weekend. If you miss the programmes, not to worry as they will be available for six months on the SHF website so you can still catch them.




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