A festive throwback to olden China


opera with english subtitles

Image adapted from Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

When the autumn equinox hits, there’s a palpable scramble with throngs of people queuing up for the tastiest of mooncakes. But amidst the frenzy, we might miss the significance behind this festive season’s customs. After all, the Mid-Autumn Festival embodies so much more than just new fandangled mooncake flavours and overhanging lanterns.

Moonfest – A Mid-Autumn Celebration is an annual traditional Chinese arts fest by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay – and for six days, our iconic durian-shaped landmark will be transformed into a tiny enclave of the Orient. With an oriental tea house, outdoor Chinese opera stages and a Hanfu (traditional Han Chinese garb) parade, these programmes will have you wishing you lived in the time of ancient Beijing!


1. Train like Bruce Lee with a free Wing Chun class


wing chun class sg

Image credit: @darylyeowingchun

Go Karate Kid style and learn the basics of Ip Man and Bruce Lee’s famous martial art form, Wing Chun. It’s going to be led for free by martial arts pro, Daryl Yeo, who runs his own Wing Chun training centre. It’s only a 30-minute sesh, so it’s just enough for you to get a grasp of the moves but not too much where it’ll leave you aching the next day.

When: 1 Oct
Where: Esplanade Forecourt Garden
Time: 5.30PM & 6.30PM
More info here


2. Sip cold sparkling Chinese tea at the Moonfest Tea Room


moonfest chinese tea brewing

Introducing the art of tea to the little ones. Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

The Moonfest Tea Room offers a replica of traditional Chinese tea house activities, where visitors can drink tea while slipping into Chinese opera costumes – and even have a mini photoshoot while they’re at it. If it’s too warm for hot tea, sample some on-tap cold sparkling tea brewed by Pek Sin Choon, one of Singapore’s oldest tea merchants.

moonfest esplanade chinese tea workshop

Sparkling on-tap tea! Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Tea houses were rampant all over mainland China in ancient times, where people could enjoy dance performances, operas, and acrobatics while chewing on yummy snacks. Get the same experience here: soak in folk music and opera performances while tucking into some warm tea!

When: 29 Sep, 30 Sep & 1 Oct
Where: Esplanade Annexe Studio
Time: 7PM-9.30PM; 2.30PM-9.30PM; 2.30PM-9PM respectively
More info here


3. Watch Chinese opera pros work the stage like never before


moonfest chinese opera

Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Can you sing, dance, do acrobatics and martial arts all at the same time? Because I know I sure can’t. These performers on the other hand will wow you with their stunts, all while singing.

Along the Esplanade waterfront, it’ll be a tribute to the age-old art of Chinese opera, which used to be traditionally performed on the streets. Open-air stages with free seating will be set up for you to enjoy the show, just like in the old times. There’ll be performances in Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, with English and Chinese surtitles – for free!

moonfest chinese opera china

Catch their full-length performance as well as their short excerpts! Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

We usually catch opera performances only during CNY or during the Hungry Ghost season – but there’s no need to wait for these occasions here. If you want to see the pros at it, the Hubei Provincial Peking Opera Theatre Troupe is one not to miss. This award-winning troupe is considered one of the best in China – their artistry and suave acrobatics alongside witty banter will leave you floored.

Moonfest Local Street Opera
When: 29 Sep – 1 Oct
Where: Esplanade Edge
Time: 6.15PM, 7.45PM & 9.15PM
More info here

Hubei Provincial Peking Opera Theatre Troupe
When: 29 Sep (full-length opera) and 1 Oct (opera excerpts)
Where: Esplanade Theatre
Time: 7.30PM & 3PM respectively
Ticket info here and here
Note: This performance will be held in Mandarin, with English and Chinese surtitles.


4. Watch characters come to life with water calligraphy


water calligraphy class sg

Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

If you’re fascinated by the precise art of calligraphy, you’ll find water calligraphy is an upgrade from using the usual ink.

Participants will be taught how to write Chinese characters not with ink on paper, but on the ground using water. Have tons of fun playing around with your own style – and no worries if you make a mistake. You can easily start over because the water will dry up and disappear on the pavement within minutes!

When: 30 Sep
Where: Esplanade Forecourt Garden
Time: 5.30PM & 6.30PM
More info here


5. Acupressure workshop for smartphone-addicted millennials


acupressure class moonfest tcm

Image credit: Adweek

It seems like TCM isn’t as traditional as we all think – this session shows how these techniques are still relevant to us youngsters too. Relieve sore muscles and joints with simple acupressure techniques – AKA pressing specific nerve points. Aah.

This unique demo is for those of us who are constantly glued to our phones and laptops. After all, our poor fingers need some TLC from all that typing!

When: 1 Oct
Where: Esplanade Annexe Studio
Time: 3PM
More info here


Have a blast all week long with these other awesome activities:


moonfest hanfu traditional chinese costume

Watch the beautiful Hanfu parade. Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

  • Chamber music concert by China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra
  • Craft workshops – make your own lanterns, pompom jade rabbits, & opera masks
  • Crosstalk show
  • Ethnic minority folk dance from China
  • Hanfu fashion parade
  • Grandfather and Grandmother storytelling sessions
  • Lantern walkabout
  • Learn conversational dialects – Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese
  • Mashup songs relating to the word ‘moon’
  • Outdoor film screenings of old-school Chinese Opera films
  • Paper Monkey Theatre production of The Magic Paintbrush – a puppetry adaptation of a classic Chinese folktale
  • Solve Chinese riddles

Celebrate mid-autumn festivities at Moonfest


mid autumn festival singapore

Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

These customs and traditions might seem alien to us, so here’s a great chance to get in touch with our roots. Many times, they tend to go unnoticed in the din of our everyday lives, so use this opportunity to step through a time loop and learn more about the festival and its customs.

chinese dragon dance mid autumn festival

Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Besides, it’s no surprise that some of us may think traditional art forms like calligraphy and opera are something only ah ma would enjoy. But with a series of fun performances and activities lined up, Moonfest will prove that the mid-autumn season is something for all of us to celebrate – no matter young or old.

When: 29th Sep – 4th Oct
Where: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

For more information on ticket promos and purchase, click here.

Find out more about Moonfest – A Mid-Autumn Celebration here!

This post was brought to you by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.