The eclectic city of Singapore boasts a diverse calendar of events that takes no breaks. Between the traditional celebrations of our ethnic and religious groups, you’ll find festivals dedicated to niche interests—think elaborate anime and dance music performances. If you’ve got a passion for something out of the ordinary, you’ll find your fellow flock in Singapore.
Geeks and gamers
A huge deal for fans of Japanese pop culture, the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) is an annual affair held every November that attracts throngs of cosplayers swathed in elaborate costumes. Not only can you find like-minded enthusiasts here to discuss your favourite anime stories and characters with, you can also trade or purchase rare collectibles at the AFA’s many booths. You’ll also get to be an otaku (pop-culture geek) when you sing along with the original crooners of your favourite anime theme tunes.
For fans of Western comics, check out the Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention (STGCC). Held every September, STGCC features numerous comic artists, toy labels and gaming competitions—not to mention the colourful cosplayers decked out as superheroes and villains. After taking wefies with your favourite characters, head to the toy section, where world-renowned designers like DeAnne George will readily beef up your autograph collection.
Anime, manga and pro wrestling come together at Chara Expo, usually held around the same time as STGCC. This vibrant festival invites attendees to trade and play anime and manga card games with fellow enthusiasts, as well as be entertained by countless cosplayers and theme song singers. This teeming affair is also graced by the superstars of New Japan Pro Wrestling every year. Gain insights into this quirky yet thrilling industry, as living wrestling legends such as Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger who’ve been around since the 1980s and 1990s share their unique experiences with Chara Expo attendees.
Eat, drink and make merry
A constellation of Michelin-starred restaurants, heritage hawkers and up-and-coming chefs turns The GREAT Food Festival, typically held in September, into one of the city’s biggest and brightest. Even if you’re not a foodie, there’s plenty to check out—just stroll through the festival’s tents, take in the sights and smells, and mingle with the crowd of food-loving locals.
For those who prefer their beverages fizzy, cold and alcoholic, Beerfest Asia is the place for you. Hundreds of breweries, from household names to cult favourites, descend upon the F1 Pit Building every August to pour out new, rare and exclusive brews. It’s far from a stuffy tasting event. Live bands rock out on stage, while revellers climb atop tables, pint glass in hand, to dance the night away. Of course, you’re welcome to join them or indulge in your own style of merrymaking.
The Singapore Cocktail Festival, which happens in the second quarter of every year, is one of the most happening weeks in the city.
Held across a ‘festival grounds’ and numerous bars around the city, this high-spirited event invites imbibers to let their hair down, rub shoulders with celebrity bartenders and, of course, get tipsy on quality tipple. For those who want to learn how to shake up great cocktails at home, the festival’s many workshops should do the trick, too.
More good vibes await at the Singapore Comedy Fringe, where local and international comedians turn the Esplanade into a barrel of laughs every April. Jonathan Atherton, Fakkah Fuzz and Sam See are just three of the locally based funnymen whose jabs will leave you in stitches. Grab a seat in the front row and you might be the butt of their next joke—which will serve as the perfect icebreaker for meeting new people in-between sets.
The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) won’t make you laugh, but it will set you thinking. The festival is known for its experimental and provocative plays, dances, visual arts exhibitions and other performance arts shows that deliver powerful messages based on themes such as “Enchantment”. Dozens of shows run from late June to early September, so there’s plenty of time to soak in its thought-provoking artistry and entertainment.
The great outdoors
One of the best-attended contemporary festivals in Singapore, the yearly Singapore Night Festival is typically held every August and spans the entire city centre. Take a stroll through its visual showcases, which include projection art and interactive installations, then marvel at its performance artists, whose crafts range from aerial silk dance to professional wrestling. The Night Festival kick-started the local trend of outdoor festivals and block parties, which continue to nurture a love for walking and the arts among locals and visitors alike. Ramble through the Night Festival’s compelling trails and you just might discover the next David Cerny or Damien Hirst within our burgeoning arts scene.