In August 2023, Singapore celebrates 58 years of independence. Our country’s identity is a blend of different cultures and Singapore traditions. A great way to understand the rich cultural heritage of Singapore is through performances, local crafts and even games – at A Date with Tradition festival in Singapore.
Running for its third year, A Date with Tradition is organised by Arts House Limited and held in conjunction with Singapore Night Festival 2023. It happens at Stamford Arts House on 25 and 26 August and is free for all to attend.
Martini Binte Ali Wafar is the Programmes Manager at Arts House Limited. She says: “We hope for visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty and richness of Singapore traditional arts through two evenings of captivating performances, hands-on activities and artist showcases by local traditional arts groups.”
Here’s a look at what’s lined up for A Date with Tradition. Plus, the opportunity to bring home a little piece of Singapore tradition for yourself!
# Cultural heritage of Singapore performances
Eurasian Folk Dances by Eurasian Association Dance Troupe
When European and Asian cultural heritage in Singapore come together, the result is a lovely combination of Eurasian culture. Dancers showcase this through folk dances, which visitors can learn easily and join in too!
When: August 26; 5.30pm to 5.45pm, 6.30pm to 6.45pm
Popular Chinese Opera by Traditional Arts Centre
Between the ages of five and 11, I often accompanied my maternal grandmother to watch live Teochew opera. I didn’t understand the story due to my limited understanding of the dialect but I was always captivated by the facial expressions, body movements and colourful costumes. This interactive programme will be performed in Mandarin, with an introductory session in English and Mandarin, allowing you to gain a better understanding of this cultural heritage in Singapore.
When: Both days; 8pm to 8.30pm, 9pm to 9.30m
Kedai Sinseh by P7:1SMA and Ding Yi Music Company
“Kedai sinseh” is the Malay term for a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop. Many locals of different ethnicities still head to the neighbourhood TCM physician, seeking natural remedies for different issues.
These three performative remedies are inspired by the medicinal ingredients found in the TCM shops around Stamford Arts Centre. The collaborative performances will encourage you to reflect on the remedies for our wellness and witness the interconnectedness of Chinese and Malay traditions in Singapore. Registration is required; visit kedai-sinseh.peatix.com.
When: Both days; 8pm to 8.30pm, 9.30pm to 10pm
# Activities showcasing Singapore traditions
Indian Rainbow II: Saree draping styles by Shantha Ratii Initiatives
If you’ve ever wondered how a saree is worn and stays up, here’s your chance to find out at this festival in Singapore! An expert will guide you through draping a saree on yourself in different ways.
When: Both days, 5pm to 11pm
A Peek into Traditional Chinese Knots by Wearable Craft
More than just a Chinese New Year decoration, the Chinese knots tradition in Singapore includes using it as a charm or as gifts filled with well-wishes for the receiver. In this mini workshop, you’ll learn how to make the Chinese coin knot into a charm. Bring your children and let them experience this cultural heritage of Singapore.
When: Both days, 5pm to 11pm
Marble Bear and Mini Pot Making Workshop by Chokmah
In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create either a bear or mini pot from jesmonite. You’ll see how the traditional method of casting – pouring the material into a mould and leaving it to set over a period of time – transforms into your chosen object. Jesmonite is an eco-friendly and non-toxic material with quick drying properties. This means you can take home your creation the same day from this fun festival in Singapore. There are only 20 spaces per group and for walk-ins only, while seats are available, with the last casting process starting at 9.30pm.
When: Both days, 5pm to 10pm
Cost: $10 (usually $35) for Bear Ornament workshop, $15 (usually $45) for Mini Pot workshop
# Play some traditional Singapore games
Upsized Fun and Games
Singapore adults in their mid-30s and beyond have fond memories of playing five stones, pick-up sticks and eraser battles during break times in primary school. You can relive the excitement and joy of these simple traditional Singapore games at A Date with Tradition festival in Singapore but with upsized versions. There’s also a cinema on wheels for some old-school entertainment.
When: Both days; 5pm to 11pm
Glow-in-the-dark Paper Fruit Basket Stickers Inspired by Nanyang Artists by Art Wonderland
Experience the rich cultural heritage of Singapore’s pioneer art movement, the Nanyang art. This style is inspired by the early Chinese immigrants who fused their Shanghai roots with Western art influences. Skilled instructors will guide you in painting a basket of fruit with glow-in-the-dark paint using special Chinese ink and watercolour brushes.
When: August 25, 5pm to 11pm
Start planning your weekend at A Date with Tradition! And, if you can’t make it for both nights to experience these traditions of Singapore, just take Martini’s advice: “I recommend catching Kedai Sinseh and Popular Chinese Opera.”