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Heritage and Culture Light Up
Photograph: National Heritage Board

The best things to do during National Day

Things may be different this year, but the celebrations for Singapore's 55th birthday continues online and offline

By Cam Khalid
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This year's National Day brings forth a couple of firsts: the NDP is split into a morning and afternoon show, the outdoor mass performances are switched to indoor intimate showcases, and the fireworks are to be set off at more than ten different locations islandwide. Despite the changes, the celebration remains as lively as previous years', so expect a 55th birthday bash that's filled with parades, fireworks, song and dance.

Besides the NDP, look forward to more exciting online and offline programmes at museums and cultural institutions, concerts featuring your favourite local stars and NDP classics, and the long weekend (Monday happens to be a public holiday too). Squeeze into your red and white ensemble with pride and check out these National Day events.

RECOMMENDED: The guide to National Day and the best places to catch fireworks for free on National Day in Singapore

NDP
Photograph: NDP

NDP2020

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

Here’s the NDP in a nutshell: impressive aerial displays, military parades, and multicultural performances – all wrapped up with stunning fireworks. However, this year's NDP is going to be different due to safety measures. Instead of dominating the Padang or the Float @ Marina Bay with mass performances, it transforms into a digitalised and immersive affair with a series of home engagement activities to encourage audience participation throughout the day. It is also split into three main components: The Strength of Our Nation, Active Participation by Singaporeans, and the Evening Show, starting the day with a parade, and concluding the night with intimate performances and a rousing fireworks display set off at over 10 different locations islandwide.

National Day Concert
Photograph: Gardens by the Bay/Mediacorp

Gardens by the Bay and Mediacorp National Day Concert

Music Singapore City, Raffles Place

Spend your National Day Public Holiday with an all-star assembly of local talent who are set to bring an exhilarating Gardens by the Bay experience to your home, complete with the patriotic sounds of NDP – old and new. Graced by Guest-of-Honour President Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, and anchored by performances filmed against the stunning Supertrees, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, the special one-hour concert features a performance of Mediacorp’s upbeat ditty The Light, which was produced as part of the national efforts to combat Covid-19. Look forward to other performances by Nathan Hartono, Taufik Batisah, Yung Raja, and Inch Chua, as well as side-splitting comedy acts by Kumar, Gurmit Singh, and Suhaimi Yusof. Did we mention a rousing rendition of Home by President Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee too?

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Heritage and Culture Light Up
Photograph: National Heritage Board

Heritage and Culture Light Up

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

Don't bat an eye when you're in the Civic District or the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct – come nightfall, 10 of Singapore's historic buildings and cultural institutions are illuminated in red and white to commemorate Singapore's 55th National Day. The Armenian Church, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Central Fire Station, CHIJMES, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, National Gallery Singapore, National Museum of Singapore, The Arts House, and Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall (VTVCH) are bathed in eye-catching light projections to symbolise how Singaporeans remain #UnitedThroughCulture, especially during this National Day period.

SSO National Day Concert
Photograph: SSO

SSO National Day Concert

Music Singapore City, Raffles Place

Raise the Singapore flag for the patriotic music and NDP songs that ooze national pride. This year, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is streaming its annual National Day concert on Sistic Live. Conducted by Darrell Ang and hosted by Khairudin Saharom, the showcase features the debut works of three young, local composers: Sandra Lim, Jonathan Shin and Tan Yuting. It also sets the virtual stage for the world premiere of Brahman: Kannagi's Realization by Singapore-based veteran composer John Sharpley, which stars the brilliant Bharatanatyam dancer Kshirja Govind. The programme then culminates with the SSO performing Kelly Tang's 2010 arrangement of the National Anthem which is re-orchestrated for a smaller-sized orchestra.

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Singapore, flag
Photograph: Unsplash

Flag of Unity

Things to do Siloso Beach, Central

What's a better 55th birthday gift for Singapore then sending well wishes and heartfelt messages? After all, it's the thought that counts. Share your hopes and aspirations for the future and see them transplanted onto 10,000 recyclable flags on Siloso Beach. Collectively known as the Flag of Unity, the unique installation of red and white flags span 4,500 square-metre across Siloso Beach, forming a giant display of this year's National Day Parade (NDP2020) logo and theme 'Together, A Stronger Singapore'. Each flag bears a heartfelt message from members of the public.

From now till August 8, you can submit your birthday wishes online, and/or read the celebratory messages from others too. Pen your thoughts or dedicate words of thanks to the unsung heroes who have never failed to brighten your day.

Library@Orchard
Photograph: Shutterstock/mokjc

National Day with NLB

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

Gather the fam, and kickstart the National Day celebrations with the National Library Board (NLB). From spotlighting local authors to shaping the soundscape of Singapore to revisiting the National Day-related treasures, there is plenty to appreciate our multifaceted home. Highlights include One Story, a new literary project by NLB which shares stories written by local authors and are available in English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. First up is One Story: Dharma’s Chariot which is currently available for loan at libraries and via the NLB mobile app. Readers can also look forward to a variety of programmes, ranging from creative writing workshops and book club discussions in all four languages to theatre performances and social media contests from August to October.

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Zoom Into History
Photograph: National Museum of Singapore

Zoom into History

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

It's a blast to the past with the National Museum of Singapore's new digital initiative: Zoom into History. Hosted via Zoom, no less, the programme offers a new and engaging way to learn about Singapore's rich history through a fresh lens – that of artefacts that have 'witnessed' history first-hand, to be exact. Uncover the lesser-known stories of each era as told by a National brand rice cooker, the mace of the City of Singapore, a cap belonging to a female soldier named Rasamma, a night-soil bucket, a Spanish dollar, the Singapore Stone, and an Orang Laut basket trap (bubu). You might even recognise the familiar voices of local celebrities including Fakkah Fuzz, Hossan Leong, Jacky Ng, Janice Koh, Magalakshmi Sudarsanan, Rishi Budhrani and Tan Kheng Hua, who lend their voices to bring these artefacts to life. Got a burning question? The virtual floor will also be opened for you to interact with the artefacts during the session, and 'zoom' even further into the artefacts' lives in real-time.

Prout Queer Trivia Night
Photograph: Prout

Queer Trivia Night: Complain Queens & Loving Critics Edition

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

If you ownself declare Olympic-level complainer, then this round of trivia hosted by Prout is one for you. Whether you pledge allegiance to the hammer or lightning, this National Day Edition of Queer Trivia Night comes knocking on your virtual door to test your smarts on current affairs, food, 'Asian values', 'CMIO (Chinese-Malay-Indian-Others) stuff', and more. But not without consent lah – so gather a party of up to eight or go solo, register with your team name, and stand a chance to win $300 worth of prizes.

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National Day Celebrations with the National Museum of Singapore
Photograph: Zinkie Aw/National Museum of Singapore

National Day Celebrations with the National Museum of Singapore

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

Don your best red and white ensemble, and celebrate National Day with the National Museum of Singapore. Whether you're staying in or stepping out, there's something for everyone, offline and online. Uncover stories of Singapore with The Hunt@NMS, where you explore the galleries and discover clues that lead you to exciting artefacts, giving you a different POV on history. Then feast your eyes on the façade projection at the museum where it comes alight for the whole month of August upon sunset.

Alternatively, you can check out the digital teaser of Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present, a physical exhibition that is set to open lat a later date. The digital experience features a series of posts on Roots.sg about artefacts, photographs, oral histories and video clips related to Singapore's rich history. On August 8 and 9, settle down for music performances streamed live from the museum. Join The Purple Symphony and sing along to familiar tunes like We Will Get There, Bunga Sayang, Singai Naadu, and Voices from the People’s Hearts.

Singapore, flag
Photograph: Unsplash

National Day Sing-along

Music Singapore City, Raffles Place

The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) have something special up their sleeves this National Day – an online sing-along birthday bash. For the first time, the annual event goes digital, and all are welcome to sing their love for Singapore in unison, albeit socially distanced. Expect crowd favourites like Home, The Stream That Flows Forever, and Voices From My Heart. Beyond performances, there are also an engaging series of interactive games hosted by local radio DJs Phua Kia Peow and Bukoh Mary. Making a special guest appearance is none other than President Halimah Yacob, who will also be delivering a message prior to the celebrations.

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National Day Fiesta
Photograph: Isaac Christopher Lee/Singapore Sports Hub

National Day Fiesta

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

The Singapore Sports Hub is bringing out the party poppers for the nation's birthday – but with a virtual twist. The annual National Day Fiesta goes online with a 55-minute show that focuses on the theme 'Onwards & Stronger Together’. Hosted by Ah Lian, the quirky alter-ego of actress Michelle Chong, the show will be streamed on the Singapore Sports Hub’s YouTube channel at 1pm on National Day.  To commemorate the occasion, the hub has also created an interactive map online that adds another dimension to the multi-faceted experience. Post a birthday selfie with brand new Instagram filters, or test your smarts with trivia games.  

The River Always Flows V
Photograph: The Fullerton Heritage/The TENG Ensemble

Where the River Always Flows V

Things to do Concerts Singapore City, Raffles Place

The Fullerton Heritage and The Teng Ensemble are back with their annual concert Where the River Always Flows V, this time on digital platforms. Immerse yourself in Teng’s signature fusion sound this National Day Eve through Facebook, as they bring you modern hits from the likes of Billie Eilish and Bruno Mars to traditional pieces arranged through the Forefathers Project – a Teng initiative that celebrates and reimagines the music of Singapore’s unsung Chinese music pioneers. It’s a feast for the eyes too, as the hour-long digital concert is held against iconic locations around The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel. There's also an online giveaway where you stand to win tote bags, their critically acclaimed albums, and even an overnight stay at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Viewership is free, but you can give back to the Teng Goes Digital initiative by donating online, which will fund their digitalisation efforts and help the ensemble to bring their uplifting East-meets-West tunes to the elderly at dialysis centres, hospices and more.

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The King IPA
Photograph: Edible Garden City

Pyjama-Based Learning: Growing the King of Herbs

Things to do Classes and workshops Singapore City, Raffles Place

This National Day, celebrate our heritage plants and grow your own seedlings without getting out of your pyjamas. You heard that right – Edible Garden City is conducting a special virtual workshop called Pyjama-based Learning: Growing the King of Herbs. The star of the show is the ulam raja, a prized herb with a subtle mango flavour you can use in salads, marinades, stir fries, and even teas. For $32 a person, receive your own ulam raja gardening kit, learn all about its unique properties and be guided step-by-step as you prepare your own planting medium and sow seeds. Since it’s a celebration, why not add-on a bottle of The King’s IPA for an additional $12? You’ll get a refreshing brew from Crust made from fresh surplus bread from elite bakeries and leading hotels, combined with locally-grown herbs from Edible Garden City.

Museum and Heritage Institution Open House Weekends
Photograph: Asian Civilisations Museum

Museum and Heritage Institution Open House Weekends

Things to do Singapore City, Raffles Place

National Heritage Board's (NHB) museums and heritage institutions are hosting special (safe-distanced) programmes, and a curated lineup of activities for all to enjoy during the National Day weekend. Highlights include a digital scavenger hunt that provides a fresh perspective to Singapore's history at the National Museum of Singapore, and an immersive 'virtual twin' of Asian Civilisation Museum's newest permanent galleries which allow users to explore the galleries digitally. Plus, you can now navigate the galleries of the Indian Heritage Centre with its new curator-led guided tours on your mobile devices via QR codes. If you're staying in, why not NDPlay and revel in the celebratory atmosphere and express your patriotic spirit with NHB's suite of digital and augmented reality offerings? Otherwise, sit back, relax, and watch National Day-related videos and content that promises ND(viewing and reading)Pleasure.

Your National Day sorted

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