Qixi Fest 2023 Recap
The inaugural edition of Qixi Fest (七夕乞巧嘉年华) was held between 7 July 2023 and 20 August 2023 (from 7/7 in the Gregorian calendar to the weekend before 7/7 in the Lunar calendar), with the ambition of reviving and reimagining the Qixi festival that has been forgotten in Singapore for over 50 years. The Qixi Festival centers around the beautiful custom of wishing upon the stars, and celebrates the reunion of the Weaver Girl and Cowherd on a magpie bridge on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month every year.
Qixi Fest 2023 featured 7 weekends of activities such as talks, workshops, exhibitions, and tours leading up to a 2-day Grand Finale at Smith Street, Chinatown. The Grand Finale was held on 19 & 20 August 2023 and attracted over 30,000 visitors. We are grateful for the support from the Singapore Tourism Board, as well as our numerous partnerships with clans, artists, heritage businesses, and other supporters of the festival.
A lot of thought went into the conceptualisation of the very first edition of Qixi Fest, including the creation of our mascot QiQi and our theme song. We also debuted our signature programme, the “Make a Wish Magpie” workshop where members of the public can join in the custom of “Qiqiao” (乞巧) by customising their very own crochet magpie plushie. Separately, our “1000 Wishes” programme also involved beneficiaries and volunteers in the co-creation of a “Magpie Bridge” display at our Grand Finale.
Let us look back on some of the memorable moments of Qixi Fest 2023!
We launched Qixi Fest 2023 on 7 July, with a media event that was attended by Minister Indranee Rajah. Our first public talk this weekend was about “Debunking Myths and Misrepresentations of Samsui Women in the Arts”. We also kicked off our free Qixi Public Boat Tours, bringing participants every week on a tour through the Singapore River where they could participate in the Qixi tradition of wishing under the stars.
Participants dived into the traditional arts of Chinese poetry and effigy-making this week with our programmes, “Chinese Poetry Recital Workshop” and “Discover the Art of Effigy Making”. We also held a workshop to recreate the “Majie chili biscuit”, a lost heritage recipe that was used to be prepared by Majies from Shunde.district in Guangdong, China.
Our “Make A Wish Magpie” programme allowed members of the public to customise their own crochet magpie plushie and take them home. The Qixi custom of “Qiqiao” involves wishing upon the stars to beseech for skillfulness in handicrafts, and it is said that your wishes will come true faster if you had showcased your skillfulness during the festival. We hope that these crochet magpies allowed our participants’ wishes to take flight!
Through the programme “Enter the World of Chinese Opera: A Sensorial Tea House Experience”, participants were given a rare chance to get up close and personal with the artists and learn more about Chinese Opera in an intimate tea house setting.
We welcomed hanfu enthusiasts to join us at Qixi Fest with our “Let’s Talk Hanfu: The Craftsmanship in Chinese Fashion” talk. This week, participants also participated in recreating the lost heritage food “Tung Ann sweet potato balls”, and were also treated to a Qixi Walking Tour where we traced the history of the Qixi Festival here in Singapore.
As we counted down to our Grand Finale, we had a busy weekend at Ann Kway Association as we held multiple dialogues with artists and heritage businesses that were involved in Qixi Fest. Delving into the theme of (Her)story, we also held a talk about labour history in Singapore titled “The Women I Interviewed and Their Jobs”. Participants also joined us for our “Outdoor Sketching in Chinatown” and “East-Meets-West Calligraphy” workshops, as well as a talk about “The Art of Lantern Riddles”.
At our Grand Finale, we welcomed Mayor Alex Yam who presented our festival partners with tokens of participation. Over 2 days at Smith Street, we celebrated the return of the Qixi Festival in Chinatown with a variety of exciting activities! Our final display of crochet magpie plushies co-created by volunteers and beneficiaries was also authenticated into the Singapore Book of Records for the "Largest number of crochet magpie plushies co-created by beneficiaries and volunteers to form a community Magpie Bridge display"!
Visitors were impressed by our stage programmes such as harmonica, guzheng, Cantonese opera, poetry recital, mountain singing, culinary demonstration and live band singing performances. We also held “Make a Wish Magpie”, harmonica, and Chinese poetry workshops to visitors who were interested in joining the festivities.
There were also a number of fringe activities along the street throughout the day, such as lantern painting demonstration, hands-on calligraphy, riddle guessing, and urban sketching. Traditional favourites such as egg tarts and rainbow bread ice cream sandwiches were also available for sale along with our special “Milky Way” milk tea shake, with a Qixi tea blend that was created exclusively for Qixi Fest.
An important part of the Grand Finale was also our recreation of the Seven Sisters Basin and our exhibition about the Qixi Festival, to educate the public about what Qixi celebrations of yesteryear would have been like. Visitors and tourists were also able to join in the wishmaking custom of the Qixi Festival by penning down their wishes onto a paper magpie.
As we wrap Qixi Fest 2023, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to our supporters, volunteers, and the following partners who helped make our inaugural edition of Qixi Fest possible:
Kong Chow Wui Koon 岡州会馆
Singapore Ann Kway Association 安溪会馆
Tung Ann District Guild 同安会馆
Kim Mui Hoey Kuan 金门会馆
Ying Fo Fui Kun 应和会馆
Chin Kang Huay Kuan 晋江会馆
Chung Shan Association 中山会馆
Heritage Business Foundation
Chinatown Business Association
Singapore Heritage Society
Kodaly Academy of Music & Schola Cantorum (Singapore)
Pek Sin Choon 白新春茶庄
Chinese Theatre Circle 敦煌剧坊
Sweetlands Confectionery & Bakery
Tong Heng Traditional Cantonese Pastries
Xin Sheng Poets Society 新声诗社
Harmonica Aficionados Society
Tai Chong Kok 大中国
Mun San Fook Tuck Chee 万山福德祠
Jimm Wong Pui Fatt
a²+rt Studio 工藝軒
Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop 西天園佛舖
Wilfred Aw Yeong Peng Mun 欧阳炳文
Lee Kok Leong 李国樑
Lim Bee Bee 林美美
Kay Kok Chung Oi
Koh Nguang How 许元豪
Tay Thain Lin
Loh Kah Seng
Dr Long Chin Peng 龙矜频博士
1000 Wishes Partners
Tiny Rabbit Hole
SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Bukit Merah & Kreta Ayer
Anglican Senior Centre (Havelock)
Chinatown Active Ageing Centre (Banda)
Chinatown Active Ageing Centre (Jalan Kukoh)
Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC)
MINDS – Me Too! Club
Moral Active Ageing Centre @ Redhill
NTUC Health Active Aging Centres (Care)
PAP Community Foundation Sparkle Care @ Braddell Heights
PCF Sparkle Care @ Kreta Ayer
Pearl’s Hill Care Home
Ren Ci Nursing Home
Sarah Active Ageing Centre
Yong-en Active Hub (YEAH!) @ Bukit Merah