Art & Culture

Neon Lights Festival (Part 1)

A weekend in Singapore filled with music, arts and family fun for everyone!

by Sara Nabila Harris

Over 50 acts and 150 artists celebrated music and arts at Fort Canning, in Singapore for Neon Lights 2016 this past weekend. In only its second year the festival’s line up included headliners Foals, Sigur Rós, and Malaysia’s own, Yuna.

Even with the rain, organisers say 15,000 people attended the event –5,000 more than last year! Attracting local and international audiences alike, Neon Lights is more than a music festival. While the musical artists brought in the crowds, the indie festival had other preforming arts including slam poetry, comedy, and a host of visual arts.

Festival Director, Declan Forde explained that when planning the event, he thought about his group of close friends and how they all have different tastes –only a couple are really into music and the rest have different interests.


​The first act I saw was Singaporean Poet and Comedian Stephanie Dogfoot, who was the first act to officially start off the festival’s Rocking Horse tent. In her set Stephanie poked fun at what it’s like to be Singaporean in “When The World Ends You Will Be Eating Hokkien Mee” and her “Merlion Poem”.  I asked Stephanie if preforming at festivals was any different from preforming in cafes. She laughed, and shared with me that as a poet she doesn’t expect a huge crowd when she performs at a festival, because the audience is more diverse compared to poetry supporting cafés. Nevertheless, her show had a great turnout! Stephanie said she felt her hometown audience relates to her experiences better and gets all the nuances in her jokes, which other audiences sometimes don’t understand.

Stephanie Dogfoot preforming in Rocking Horse.

Twitter: @stephdogfoot   Facebook: Stephanie Dogfoot

Rocking Horse tent

Although it rained on Saturday, festival-goers were in high spirits. Sporting raincoats and going barefoot to splash around in the mud, a little rain wasn’t going to stop people from having fun. 

Behind the scenes during The Sugarhill Gang’s set.

It was raining cats and dogs, but nothing could wipe the smile off my face, there were still so many great acts to see!

I sought for cover under the Club Minky tent where Rob Broderick and Sam Wilson of Abandoman gave a killer performance. Their improvised hip hop comedy act relies on audience participation and they had the crowd dancing, laughing, and having an overall good time.

Day two of the festival, I had the chance to catch up and ask Abandoman how they thought their performance went in comparison others. Hailing from Ireland where the crowds love to get involved, they mentioned before preforming they did wonder a little what preforming for a Southeast Asian crowd would be like. They were glad to see a mix of faces in a crowd, and were pleasantly surprised by how willing the audience was to participate and contribute great energy to their performance. 

From left to right: Sam Wilson and Rob Broderick of Abadoman

The highlight of the festival for me was getting to see Foals perform. There was a lot of chatter between excited fans throughout the day eagerly awaiting their performance. The light show leading up to their appearance, only made it more exciting for when they actually came out. And when they did, the crowd went wild. Performing a list of fan favourites from “Holy Fire” and “What Went Down”, they lived up to all the hype! 

Foals, Neon Lights

Sara Nabila Harris

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Supported by

  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Philippines
  • Lao PDR
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • ASEAN Tourism
  • Sri Sutra Travel