Hari Raya Haji is just around the corner (22 August, folks), and with it comes an extra day of fun to have around Singapore with the kiddos. Hurrah! We’ve been taking a look at what this Muslim festival means, where we can join in the celebrations (regardless of our own religion), and what’s on for families during the public holiday.
Hari Raya Haji for beginners
Hari Raya Haji (which means “great day of the haj” in Malay), also known as Eid al-Adha, is an important Muslim festival where followers reflect on the story of God commanding Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismail. Thankfully no small children came to harm as God intervened by allowing Ibrahim to sacrifice a sheep instead. Today the sacrificial ritual, known as Korban, is an important part of the festival, and represents Prophet Ibrahim’s faith and trust in God. Mosques around Singapore take part in the ritual where sheep or goats will be sacrificed during this year’s Korban. Vegetarians should probably look away.
Social visits and family meals are also part of the celebrations, although this particular festival is more about spiritual needs than physical ones, so the huge feasts and merrymaking of Hari Raya Aidilfitri are not usually repeated. The food tables will still be laden: traditional foods such as ketupat, rendang, biryani and roasted chicken are part of the delicious menu during this special celebration.
Take the kids on a fun history lesson of Malay culture
Head over to the Istana Kampong Gelam, aka the Malay Heritage Centre, the former home of the Sultanate of Singapore, for a cool history lesson. Check out the exhibits showcasing the colourful history and culture of the Malay community here in Singapore, and learn more about the religious festivals that happen throughout the year.
When: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm
Where: Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate Singapore 198501
Cost: Free for Singapore citizens and PRs. From $4 for everyone else.
Visit Singapore’s most famous Mosque
To really get a feel for the Muslim religion and culture, Sultan Mosque – also known as Masjid Sultan – in historic Kampong Glam makes a great place to visit throughout the year with the kids. Built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles originally gave $3,000 for the construction of a single-storey building with a double-tiered roof. Today the mosque is a focal point for the Muslim community, and night markets often spring up in the area complete with food stalls whenever there is an important festival happening. For the full lowdown on this beautiful building, try a guided tour – they come in English, Malay, Chinese or Japanese language choices! Don’t forget to check out the local ‘hood too: Haji Lane and Arab Street make a great hang out with kids!
When: Open to visitors Saturday-Thursday, 10am-12pm, 2pm-4pm and Friday, 2.30pm-4pm
Where: 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833
Cost: Free admission
Theatre time for toddlers: Rainbow Fish
Marcus Pfister’s beautiful story, The Rainbow Fish, is swimming onto stage in a special adaptation along with two companion tales, Rainbow Discovers the Deep Sea and Opposites in time for Hari Raya Haji. The Act 3 International presentation is packed with lovely moral messages in the story told through puppetry of Rainbow Fish, his silver scales and his heart of gold in a visual treat everyone will love.
When: 20-28 August, various timings
Where: Victoria Theatre
Cost: From $18 per person. No admittance for babies under one year. Children age one year and above will need their own ticket.
More theatre time for toddlers: The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights
We love PLAYtime at the Esplanade, so we will definitely be grabbing a cushion on the floor for the upcoming page-to-stage adaptation of ‘The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights’. Kiddos age two to four years will adore the adventures of Eddie the mynah bird and his best friend Matt the rat, and the show will include lots of audience participation. A lovely little tale of friendship and bravery if ever there was one.
When: Now until 26 August, various timings
Where: PLAYtime Theatre, Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Drive, 038981
Cost: $20 per person
Theatre time for the whole family: The Lion King
Disney’s The Lion King is still here in Singapore, and, in our humble opinion, you absolutely need this musical smash hit on your radar. From the moment the curtains rise until the very last encore, the dazzling designs, powerful performances and phenomenal sets will have you mesmerised – and most definitely singing along! What did we love about it? Read our review to find out before booking tix.
When: Now until 23 September 2018, various performance times
Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands
Cost: From $65 – $230 per person (including babies in arms). Disney recommends its productions for children age six years and above.
Get crafty: for free!
Bring your little monsters for a cute, free craft activity at PIP’s PLAYbox where they will have a blast picking out monsters to create and colour. Easy peasy family fun.
When: Now until 31 August, 11am-6pm daily
Where: PIP’s PLAYbox, Esplanade
Light up your evening at the zoo
When night falls, the fun doesn’t stop at the Singapore Zoo right now! Embark on a multimedia adventure through the brand new Rainforest Lumina to see what the animals get up to in this virtual audio-visual experience. Choose an animal to guide you and let them steer you down a path dotted (literally) with lights and mesmerising projections through a tropical rainforest. The kids will have a blast spotting the friendly guides and playing with the interactive light pads. Book your slot beforehand and remember to turn up 10 minutes early.
When: Now until December
Where: Singapore Zoo
Cost: Adults, $22, kids $16
Spend the day at the National Gallery
National Gallery’s Children’s Festival is in the final weeks of inspiring little ones to reimagine the world through creativity and play. Small Big Dreamers features the works of Lee Wen, one of Singapore’s pioneer performance artists, for special commissions, A Waking Dream: Sun Boy and Yellow Man which has been inspired by his own life. The dream-like interactive exhibit lets kids compose their own symphony and challenge themselves in an obstacle course of ribbons and gazebos. A big hit with our own kids (and the grown ups too!).
When: Now until 9 September
Where: National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road
Cost: Free but general admission costs to the Gallery apply
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The history of Singapore: The condensed version
Family-friendly exhibits happening now for kids