Heritage Fest to focus on our isles

SINGAPORE - Sail back in time to explore Singapore's lesser-known islands and lighthouses to better understand the country's trading past.

That is the aim of this year's Singapore HeritageFest, which will feature boat excursions to three southern islands and even take visitors to Raffles Lighthouse, which has stood tall on Pulau Satumu since 1885.

The lighthouse tour, the festival's first, will be conducted for two days during the 10-day festival, where participants will tour the lighthouse and climb some 90 steps to the top of the tower.

On the way to Raffles Lighthouse, participants will sail by the Sultan Shoal Lighthouse, located near Jurong Island.

This year's festival, to be held from July 18 to 27, will focus on Singapore's island heritage, with the theme Our Islands, Our Home.

Once home to over 70 islands, "Singapore is not just an island nation, but also a nation of islands", said Marcus Ng, one of the curators behind the exhibition Balik Pulau: Stories From Singapore's Islands at the National Museum of Singapore.

Today, about 40 islands remain, thanks to land reclamation.

Beyond popular islands like Pulau Ubin, the festival will cover lesser-known ones, like former quarantine centre St John's Island, as well as Lazarus and Seringat Islands, which house a coastal landscape and a "secret" swimming cove.

Those who do not want to wet their feet can visit the 11 Festival Hubs located at malls islandwide that touch on the heritage brought to the islands by our forefathers, such as Singapore's iconic shophouses and the story behind their architecture.

There will also be over 60 programmes during the festival, including food and heritage trails in Balestier and a performance of Nanyin, an ancient Chinese musical art form also known as "music of the south", on Kusu Island.

Administrative officer Low Qiu Ying, 25, said: "I have always wanted to visit St John's Island and find out more about its significance to Singapore's history, so the tour will be an ideal way to not only explore the island, but two others as well."


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