Light Festival Frenzy

Singapore is busy lighting up the night with two festivals right now: i Light Singapore and Light to Night. The i Light Festival is the more far-ranging of the two, both topically and geographically; to see everything (and to see it well) takes several hours of walking from Marina Bay Sands all the way up to Fort Canning. Light to Night is more compact, manageable in an hour or less. Confusing (or enhancing) matters, there are places where the two festivals practically bump into each other. That’s fine, though — it doesn’t really matter what you’re seeing, as long as you’re enjoying the lights.

Prescott and I started our light festival exploration with i Light, sitting under an illuminated map of Singapore:


There are all sorts of light displays at iLight. The most common are sculptures of glowing lights, from rectangles …


… to squiggles …



… to sticks …


… to shophouse windows …


… to a web of blue strands that made us look positively creepy:


Many of the displays involve movement, from football players …

… to clock flowers …

… to this fantastic leaping person …

… though you can also see the figures standing still:


Some of the displays are purely observational (don’t touch the flowers) …

IMG_9290.jpgwhile others are entertainingly interactive:

My very favorite part of the i Light festival was the transformation of the Merlion, which is usually a plain white statue, into a multicolored wonder:


I loved watching the projections shift and change:

These colors all play out in a series of videos. Our video was this one…

… though I’m always a sucker for jellyfish …

… and the lanterns seemed in keeping with the spirit of Chinese New Year:

On the other side of the bay, the ArtScience Museum changes colors, too, its petals moving from blue …


… to purple …


… to gold:


All of the bridges over the Singapore River are dolled up for the occasion. You can have fun walking through the Time Vortex on the Helix Bridge …


… enjoy the Orriflames that lead just beyond the Merlion …


… or sit and listen to what I dubbed the singing bridge (but is actually named Time Rhythm):

For wild displays, you can’t beat the elaborate Bridges of Time show right out in the middle of the Singapore River. This production combines video, lights, water spouts, and real fire!

There’s dramatic music, too — it’s a real spectacle:

If you’re lucky, you might also catch a live performance at the i Light Festival. I spent a few minute watching this dancing troupe, which was part of the i Light Singapore Festival at the Fort show:


At some point in the i Light walk, you’ll run right into the Light to Night Festival. This Festival is most notable for projecting video “skins” on major buildings in Singapore’s Civic District. And since we’ve just started celebrating the bicentennial of Sir Stamford Raffles’ claiming of Singapore for the British (yes, we celebrate colonialism here), the focus of the skins is largely historical, often with an eye toward teaching us about the particular building in question. For example, we learn through the light “skins” about Victoria Hall (the building at the far left in the photo below) …


… a structure that over the years has housed, among other things, a nursing ward, a musical theater space, a social hall …


… and a library:


At the Arts House (Singapore’s first parliament building), you can get a glimpse into a few stories of the Singapore River …


… while at the Asian Civilisations Museum, the art skins teach you that the building once housed Singapore’s department of immigration:

While this history might be interesting, it’s presented so briefly that you’re better off just appreciating the ever-changing facade:



If you walk over the to the National Gallery, you’ll find skins on the facade that teach you very generally (and disjointedly) about (1) the history of Singapore and (2) the conversion of the Supreme Court building into today’s national art museum. I found all of that a little hard to follow, but I did like the look of the (apparently unrelated) art at the end:


Inside, they have a wonderful screen with pictures of old Singapore (with a focus on the river and the Civic District) — it’s well worth ducking in if you have a minute:


View Down the Cavenagh Bridge


Singapore River Scene

Overall, I was a little disappointed by the Light to Night Festival this year — it felt like the focus on history took away from the traditional focus of having fun with art. On the other hand, I was far more impressed with  the i Light Festival than I have been in the past. So I guess it evens out — and at the end of the day, it was well worth spending two separate nights to go see all of this.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s