Singapore Bicentennial

Date published: 29 Mar 19

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It’s always a great time to visit Singapore – one of the world’s favourite destinations. If you haven’t holidayed there yet, make it your priority, for 2019 is a very special time as the city-state commemorates its Bicentennial year. 2019 is the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ landing in Singapore, which was one of the key turning points in Singapore’s 700 year history. To mark this milestone year, the city will be filled with events and festivals.

Singapore Skyline at Night - photo credit: Eric Au

A brief history

The story of Singapore is one of trials, tribulations and triumphs. During the 14th century, Singapore flourished as an important trading post due to is strategic location at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. The city was then ruled by the five kings of ancient Singapura, which literally translates as ‘The Lion City’.

Statue of Sir Stamford RafflesModern Singapore was founded in the 19th century by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. On 29 January 1819, Raffles landed in Singapore, establishing it as a strategic trading port. The city quickly grew as an entrepôt trade hub, attracting immigrants from China, India, and the Malay Archipelago and beyond. This was the beginning of one of Singapore’s key turning points, when the city changed from a settlement of 1,000 people into the thriving nation that it has become today, forged by a spirit of endurance and always forging ahead. 

What to expect this year

A wide variety of events, festivals and exhibitions to commemorate Singapore Bicentennial will be taking place throughout the year. Some of the highlights include:

The Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning Centre (1 June to 15 September 2019): Under the theme ‘From Singapore to Singaporean’, Fort Canning Centre will be hosting the centrepiece event of the Singapore Bicentennial. This multisensory, cinematic showcase will take visitors on a reflective journey pinpointing key milestones in Singapore’s 700 years of history. The showcase will further highlight the significant contributions of Singapore’s early settlers and communities through five galleries, with three installations at the Fort Gate area for visitors to explore.  Free event but online registration is needed. 

Singapore National Museum - photo credit: National Heritage BoardSingapore Night Festival (16 to 24 August 2019): The SingaporeNight Festival is the largest outdoor performing arts festival held in the heart of the Bras Basah Bugis precinct – Singapore’s arts and heritage district. The signature highlight of the festival is the interactive light installations projected onto the façades of the Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Singapore.

An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600 – 1819 (September 2019 to February 2020): This exhibition, to be held at the National Museum of Singapore, will commemorate the Bicentennial. It will trace the driving forces, which prompted the British East India Company (EIC) to move into Southeast Asia and which later led to the founding of Singapore. The exhibition will provide a larger world stage on which to place an understanding for the context of Singapore’s historical founding through a range of artefacts and exhibits, many of which are featured for the first time.

Singapore Art Science Museum - photo credit: Vincent ChongMHC Malay CultureFest (11 to 27 October 2019): Malay CultureFest is an annual festival, celebrating the traditions and culture of the wider Malay Nusantara (archipelago), drawing the connections of their shared culture through a series of performances, talks, workshops, trails, and movie screenings. The 2019 two-week festival will focus on the movement of people and ideas from the 16th to 19th centuries and will feature newly commissioned performances and other educational activities.

For further information on Singapore, please visit:

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Singapore Tourism Board

Read about Singapore: Where Explorers Meet.

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