Walk around Singapore long enough and you’re likely to stumble upon some sort of streetside cultural event, most usually a wayang – a Malay word used in Singapore to denote Chinese opera. Played out on outdoor stages next to temples and markets, or in open spaces in the new towns, wayangs are highly dramatic and stylized affairs, in which garishly made-up characters enact popular Chinese legends to the accompaniment of the crashes of cymbals and gongs. They’re staged throughout the year, but the best time to catch one is during the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, when they are held to entertain passing spooks. Another fascinating traditional performance, lion-dancing, takes to the streets during Chinese New Year, and puppet theatres may appear around then, too. Chinatown and the Bugis/Waterloo Street area are places where you might stumble upon performances.


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