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Singapore HeritageFest's latest edition commemorates healthcare, food heritage milestones

This year’s event, from May 3 to 30, will offer more than 100 on-site and online programmes that include virtual tours, talks, photo essays and video documentaries, and hands-on workshops.

The annual Singapore HeritageFest (SHF) returns in 2021 – its 18th edition – with a new hybrid format. This year, the festival will celebrate the nation’s significant healthcare and food heritage milestones. 

These include the 200th anniversary this year of Singapore General Hospital (SGH) – the nation’s first hospital – and the inscription of our Hawker Culture on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Organised by the National Heritage Board, SHF's thematic approach this year differs from recent past editions, which focused on the heritage of specific neighbourhoods and precincts. 

Taking place from May 3 to 30, members of the public can look forward to more than 100 on-site and online programmes that include virtual tours, talks, photo essays and video documentaries and hands-on workshops. 

According to the news release, the programmes on offer will “reveal the stories behind the medical buildings of our past, delve into the history and benefits of Eastern healing practices such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, introduce participants to foods of different cultures, and more”.

Highlights include tours of historic buildings and monuments that bear witness to Singapore’s medical history. For example, did you know that SGH has three National Monuments within its compound and that they played a role during the Japanese Occupation? Now you can find out more about that as well as the stories of the communities who worked there.

Digital tour of 5 Kadayanallur Street by Jerome. (Photo: Singapore Land Authority)

Festival-goers can also take digital tours of the former Communicable Disease Centre at Moulmein Road and the former St Andrew’s Mission Hospital for Women and Children on Kadayanallur Street to discover lesser-known facts about the places and explore areas that are normally not accessible to the public.

For those who want to delve deeper into the nation’s food heritage, you can join various programmes such as a tasting session at soya sauce brewery Nanyang Sauce, or sign up for a food-themed photowalk at the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct to enjoy a professional photography session of food-related buildings, sites and significant eateries in the area.

The festival’s signature Ride & Discover programme, which reimagines MRT stations and trains as exhibition spaces, will also return this year to showcase stories of landmarks such as SGH and Maxwell Food Centre at the Outram Park, Novena, Bedok and Toa Payoh stations.

From the photo exhibition This Is What We Eat At Home. (Photo: 3Pumpkins)

You can also look forward to a photo exhibition that focuses on the food we eat at home; an array of locally-produced films with the theme of medicine and modernity; and an art installation titled HomeGround@NMS at the National Museum of Singapore’s front lawn, among other programmes.

Said SHF Festival Director David Chew, “Singapore’s healthcare history and food heritage have a wealth of stories that are waiting to be discovered, from the humble beginnings of our very first hospital 200 years ago, to the fascinating breadth and depth of our culinary culture. Through SHF, we hope that Singaporeans can get to relive these stories that connect us, and also inspire them to take a more active role in safeguarding our shared heritage.”

SHF2021 takes place from May 3 to 30. Programmes will open for registration from Apr 29 at 2pm. Visit for more information.

Source: CNA/sr