When the Sun Goes Down

Singapore has multiple nighttime light festivals — i Light Marina Bay and Light to Night are two of the bigger ones — but the Singapore Night Festival is the largest of them all. Now in its eleventh year, it stretches out over more blocks than I can count. The lights in year’s edition felt a little smaller in scope than the last two, but I was still thrilled to make my way down on three separate nights.

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Why three nights? Well, this festival is so big (and I turn in to a pumpkin so early) that I need multiple nights to do the whole thing. I also find it much saner to go during the week, when you can see the lights in peace. The weekends, however, have the real draws: festival-goers on Fridays and Saturdays are rewarded with with endless performances, from bands to improv (yes, Prescott’s troupe played), from pole dancing to poetry reading, from light-based theater to UV face painting. But the crowds are so packed on weekends that it can be hard to move, and getting across the street alone turns into an exercise in patience and claustrophobia-management. So I’ve come to prefer the weekdays for a chance to see the lights in relative peace.

This year’s festival included a bicycle that people could ride to generate huge flashes of sparks and fire …

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… spinny light spheres that I found surprisingly satisfying …IMG_3876

… a pile of glowing letters …

IMG_3913.jpg… an aquarium in the sky …

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… and, of course, light projections on the side of a building (in this case, the Singapore Art Museum):

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Singapore loves light projections on buildings …

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… especially when the projections are set to music:

But some of my favorite exhibits at the Night Festival this year were some of the quietest. I appreciated these blades of “grass” that waved quietly in the wind …

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… and these eerily-glowing sheets …

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… though they could be noisy, too:

Prescott and I both loved the Peace & Harmony candle displays at Cathedral of the Good Shepherd:

IMG_3946IMG_3949I was less compelled by their glow-stick Peace board, but I liked the message:

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Prescott and I took a break from all of the lights to go in search of soft serve, one of his favorite treats. I found something even better: a s’mores ice cream stick! This delight consists of a rock of mango-coconut ice cream encased in a chocolate shell, which is then covered in some kind of (wholly artificial) marshmallow yumminess that’s browned with a torch.

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We both ended up really happy with our selections.

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On one of my quieter evenings, I stood in a twenty-minute line (and then regretted standing in line) for a cramped exhibit that was supposed to make our large city feel manageable by dotting images of the cityscape with light-up “paper airplanes”:

IMG_3898IMG_3900This piece was housed inside the National Design Centre which also advertised a wearable art exhibit as part of the festival. I’m not sure how wearable art and the Night Festival connect, but it was interesting to see clothes made from glass…IMG_3889

… beads and feathers …

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… rubber …

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… plastic …

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… and zip ties!

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By far the coolest thing we saw was called Lords of Lightning. I’m pretty sure it could have been subtitled “two guys standing bravely on Tesla coils,” and it really needs to be seen (at least on video) to be believed:

After the Night Festival last night, I headed to the observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands, where you have amazing views at night …

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But I didn’t go there for the views — I went for the silent disco! This is an amazing event where you get your own headphones and can choose your own music (from any one of three different DJs) at your own volume. You dance with your friends, but while there is a chance that you are all listening to the same song, it’s just as likely that you’ve picked something different and are doing your own thing. Blue, green, and red lights on the headphones let you know what other people are listening to, and when you hear the crowd start to scream, you can tune into their station. It was so much fun — I can’t wait to go again!

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