Poets & dancers at music fest

Damien Rice, Irish singer-songwriter.
Warner Music

Music-loving hipsters need not leave their children at home when they attend next weekend's Neon Lights, the latest outdoor alternative music festival on the local calendar.

Not only does it feature acclaimed indie music acts such as Damien Rice, Julia Holter, Mogwai, Mercury Rev and Shugo Tokumaru, it also has stand-up comedy and circus performances as well as children's workshops.

The event's managing director Declan Forde believes that there is demand for a festival he describes as "a family-friendly music and arts festival" featuring "a top-quality diverse music line-up and interactive fun-packed arts programmes".

He and the event's arts programme director Jennifer Jennings, who is also his wife, have organised other festivals around the world, including Electric Picnic in Ireland and Australia's Harvest Festival.

Taking place at six stages in Fort Canning Park, the two-day festival brings together a massive line-up of 39 international and local musicians, and 140 other performers including artists, poets, dancers, comedians and drag queens.

Two stages will be devoted to music acts, including disco legends Chic featuring Nile Rodgers and British shoegaze pioneers Ride; the remaining four each has a distinct arts programme - alternative entertainment, literary arts, visual and performing arts, or street culture.

The Irish couple, who declined to reveal how much it cost to organise the event, say they picked Singapore to stage Neon Lights after noticing a growing appetite for events here.

Mr Forde, 39, says: "Singaporeans have very diverse tastes, a sense of style and aesthetics.

"It seemed there are a lot of people here who would appreciate the type of music and arts festival we have successfully run in several other countries."

With no doubt in their minds that this is set to be an annual affair, Ms Jennings, 37, hopes that Neon Lights will carve out its own niche spot in the festival circuit here.

She says: "We hope that Singaporeans will speak about Neon Lights with pride to foreigners they meet in years to come."

This article was first published on November 20, 2015.
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