May 27, 2019

Great for kids: Don't miss the FREE Bicentennial Experience show at Fort Canning!

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As my monkies will tell you, there is really nothing like seeing history come alive before your very eyes as compared to plain mugging from textbooks. Which is why I believe the centrepiece event of the Singapore Bicentennial, From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience will be a smash hit with families. PLUS, it's all FREE!

Opening to the public from 1 June to 15 September 2019, it comprises of two parts - Time Traveller and Pathfinder. The first is an indoor cinematic, immersive journey which requires pre-booking of time slots while the latter is an outdoor exploratory trail featuring eight interactive pavilions and installations with no pre-registration required.

Set in the historic Fort Canning Park, The Bicentennial Experience takes visitors back in time to witness key moments in Singapore’s transformation and if I have to give a short summary of the experience after my preview, it will have to be this:


To be honest, my expectations were not high prior to the show as I was anticipating just another usual multimedia show with heavy usage of light and sound. But boy, was I proven wrong! The re-telling of the Singapore's 700-year (yes it's not only 200!) history was extremely ingenious and uses different forms of mediums to touch our hearts.


The star of the experience has got to be Time Traveller, which is a 60-minute immersive, multisensory experience within the Fort Canning Centre which transports visitors through time. The Time Traveller begins with the Atrium, and is followed by five powerful acts presenting Singapore’s story over 700 years.

There are a few pleasant surprises along the way so I will not be describing each Act in detail so that you will get to enjoy the whole experience.

The show begins right at the holding area at Fort Canning Centre, where visitors will be able to get briefly acquainted with the different acts and view some actual artefacts that were unearthed at Fort Canning.


Here, visitors can catch a weather installation featuring rain that falls in ‘reverse’, providing insights into how weather played a significant role in the rise and fall of civilisations and cities, including Singapore.

Act 1: Beginnings (1299 – 1613)

This segment combines live performers with multimedia projections in a high-action re-enactment, with a moving travellator adding drama and dynamism to some of the most colourful exploits that unfolded in early Singapura.

Witness how Singapore was already at the forefront of regional and global events as early as the 13th century, and get drawn into a fascinating world of explorers, adventurers and warriors, with court intrigues and epic battles unfurling before your very eyes.

Act 2: Arrival (from 1819)

Visitors will then be ushered into a room with a 360-degree screen where the familiar narrative of how Raffles came to Singapore in 1819 is retold from an omniscient perspective through the eyes of local wildlife.

Board the Indiana, the ship that Raffles arrived on, and embark upon a cinematic voyage, witnessing dramatic historical moments and meeting important historical figures who were instrumental in shaping the fate of early Singapore.

Act 3: Connectivity (1867 – 1941)

Be enthralled with how colourful early 20th-century Singapore looked as it blossomed into a dynamic port city.

This upbeat, fast-paced segment features a rotunda with a wrap-around screen and a revolving platform, recreating both the magic and the mayhem urbanisation brought about in the early 20th century.

This Act captures the many different facets of progress, showing how connectivity — resulting from new shipping routes and communication lines — helped this small island make the big leap forward.

And then, the tone shifts...

Act 4: Occupation (1942 – 1945)

A distinct shift in tenor, this Act conveys the difficult days of the Japanese Occupation. And it begins like this.

Just a dark room with an audio segment recounting how local resistance fighters bravely stood up to the Japanese invasion.

Visitors then move into a tunnel where cracks in the wall provide peeks into wartime life. At the end of the tunnel is the actual oral account, with re-enactment, of a survivor’s harrowing escape from  the Sook Ching massacre.

Act 5: Destiny (1950s – 2019)

This is easily my fave Act! And I highly suspect it will be the same for kids too... because they get to play in the 'rain'!

Visitors will be handed umbrellas for this Act because there will be rainfall! Here, they will be able to journey through the story of how our nation emerged after World War Two and comes into her own in this special ‘rain enclosure’.

Shimmery water projections highlight the nation’s remarkable achievements, the road to independence, and a promising glimpse of the future.

After the experience, visitors will be asked to pick a DNA trait - Multi-culturalism, Openess or Self-determination - that is the most important to Singapore by dropping a ball into the respective boxes.

You can then view the results on the opoosite side of the display with the most chosen trait of each day being represented in the Lightbeam projection show nightly. More details further below.


Done with the show? Head to the area opposite Fort Canning Centre's main entrance for Pathfinder, a series of eight pavilions and installations where visitors get to uncover fascinating aspects about early Singapore and experience Singapore’s 700-year old history through space.

This area is open to everyone and does not require any pre-registration, and it takes visitors through Singapore’s place in the world across the centuries by using artefacts, maps, flora and the written word.

One standout pavilion is the Seed Conservatory which features the historical flora of Singapore over the last 700 years. This pavilion spotlights native plants, alongside those which were brought to the island either by forces of nature, or to be cultivated for aesthetic as well as economic reasons.

If you are in dire need for some air-conditioned comfort, head to the Observatory which is the Old Married Soldier’s Quarters.

Here, visitors can see how historical events around the world coincide with our 700-year history.

Remember the Lightbeam projection show I mentioned earlier? At 8pm, 9pm and 10pm nightly, the Lightbeam shoots from the Pathfinder area and the intensity of each colour is determined by the choice of DNA traits made by visitors after they complete the Time Traveller: Blue for Openness, Silver for Self-determination and Gold for Multiculturalism.

Above all, the pavilions are great for adding some jazz to your Instagram feed.... so just selfie away!

Yes, I couldn't resist too.


Echoes is a series of four site-specific short films projected nightly at Fort Canning Green. These fictional stories by Multimedia Director Brian Gothong Tan explore the themes of love, compassion, and multiculturalism, in scenes inspired by life in early Singapore.

Personally, I feel Time Traveller is a must-visit for everyone - young and old. Last I checked, the tickets for the weekend shows are mostly snapped up. There are still plenty of tickets for shows on weekdays. So if you planning to head down, here are some things to take note with regards to ticketing:

• Entry to The Bicentennial Experience is free of charge and open to all. It is recommended for children aged 5 and above, and is rated PG.

• Members of the public who want to visit in June may book their tickets online via the Singapore Bicentennial website.

• Tickets are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, and visitors may book up to a maximum of 12 tickets online. Once booking is complete, an e-ticket will be issued via e-mail, which needs to be shown for admission at Fort Canning Centre.

• For the subsequent months in July, August and September, tickets will be available at the ticketing counter at Fort Canning, and online, within the first week of the preceding month.

Useful Information

From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience
Address: 5 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179620
Dates: 1 June - 15 September 2019
o Time Traveller: Monday: 0830 – 1730 | Tuesday – Sunday: 0830 – 2200
o Pathfinder: Monday – Sunday: 0830 – 2230
o Echoes: Tuesday – Sunday: 1900 – 2230
*Echoes will not be screened when events are taking place at Fort Canning Green
*Time Traveller is located at Fort Canning Centre within Fort Canning Park
*Pathfinder is located at Fort Gate within Fort Canning Park

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