Lighting up Golden Jubilee: 50 ways to mark occasion

Lighting up Golden Jubilee: 50 ways to mark occasion

The big day approaches, and Fiona Chan and Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh check out 50 ways - and counting - for Singaporeans of all ages and interests to mark the occasion, from the arts to sport and community volunteering

The Christmas holidays may be over, but 12 more months of festivities have kicked off as Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence this year.

The whole nation - including government agencies, firms, academic institutions, and various organisations and community groups - is pitching in for the birthday bash.

From concerts and book launches to food parties and gifts for newborns and the newly-weds, the jam-packed line-up of SG50 events promises something for every Singaporean.

SG50 "is an opportunity for Singaporeans to reflect on how far we have come together as a nation", says Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, a member of the SG50 Steering Committee planning the 50th-anniversary celebrations. "I hope everyone will participate and celebrate Singapore's Golden Jubilee in their own way."

The jubilee also marks an opportune moment for forward planning.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a lecture in October last year: "SG50 should also be a time to look ahead, to set new goals for the next half century, to see and be excited by the opportunities opening up."

To help you make the most of this special year, Insight has compiled a listing of key events on the SG50 calendar:

Public spaces and parades

Art and history lovers are in for a treat. In September, the National Museum will complete the revamp of its permanent galleries to better narrate the country's post-Independence story.

Two months later, the new National Gallery will open at the City Hall and the former Supreme Court. One of the largest arts venues in the region, it will focus on South-east Asian art.

The gallery is also spearheading the Portraits Of The People project, in which Singaporeans draw sketches of themselves and share their thoughts on the National Pledge. These will be collated and displayed in an Art Connector sheltered corridor linking the gallery to the City Hall MRT station.

Another crowdsourced project is the SG Heart Map, which is collecting stories and photos of the public's favourite haunts around the island.

There is also lots in store for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. From March, the National Parks Board (NParks) will bring together 50 gardening groups to create five SG50 Community in Bloom Gardens at HortPark. Towards the end of the year, NParks will organise an SG50 Mass Tree Planting exercise, to plant 5,000 trees at 50 locations.

Walking trails and exhibitions will be set up from this month to August as part of MySG Trails and Exhibitions, which will feature some of the favourite places of Singapore youth.

And in November, an 8km walking trail - the Jubilee Walk - will be launched to take visitors through Singapore's history, including a new pedestrian bridge between Merlion Park and Marina Promenade.

Many annual events will be bedecked with more pomp and splendour. Chingay 2015 promises to be the biggest and grandest in the history of the Chinese New Year parade, while the Golden Jubilee National Day Parade will return to the Padang, where Singapore's independence was declared in 1965.

Art and the arts

Fifty iconic works of the Singapore stage - including Emily Of Emerald Hill - will entertain theatre-goers at the Esplanade in a special SG50 Studios season. The performing arts venue has also lined up new commissions for the year, including a full-length Chinese opera.

The Singapore International Festival of Arts will hold an SG50 edition, featuring works by selected top local artists and art groups, including dance pioneer Goh Lay Kuan, comedian Kumar and theatre company Wild Rice.

Then there is Singapore Dance Day in October, which will involve open classes, flash mobs and outdoor performances.

On the visual arts front, tertiary students are working with Singapore footwear design institute Bronx Creative & Design Centre to design 15 pairs of shoes reflecting their experiences of Singapore. These will be showcased at the In Our Shoes exhibition this month at the National Design Centre, after which they will be put up for auction and the proceeds given to charity.

A special SG50 public sculpture is also being commissioned by developer City Developments and the National Museum, which are calling for local artists to submit their designs. The selected design will be announced next month and the artwork will be unveiled by the end of the year.

A group of artists is painting a picture of the Merlion - using their mouths to hold the brush. Each artist will paint a section, which will be joined in a painting to be printed on postcards.

Yearly art events that will be bigger and bolder this year include the nine-day Singapore Art Week 2015 this month. Among its highlights is the Prudential Eye Programme, a special SG50 exhibition and awards gala honouring Asian artists.

But the celebrations will not be confined to Singapore. The Singapore Tourism Board will take a travelling showcase of local contemporary artists - titled Singapore: Inside Out - to Beijing, London and New York before returning home in November.

A contingent of Singapore artists is also heading to France for three months starting in March. The Singapour en France Festival, organised by the National Heritage Board and National Arts Council, aims to exhibit the best of Singapore contemporary arts, culture and heritage.

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