There are some events in Singapore that so blatantly exist solely to rip people off of as much money as possible that I’m surprised they don’t just ask you to hand over your wallet at the entrance.
From mini marathons where all runners are required to dress up in leopard prints to yet another hipster festival with tickets the price of at least 20 beers, there’s something to do every weekend if you don’t mind parting with the money you slaved away all week to earn. Or you could keep the boredom at bay and your wallet unscathed by hitting up these free events instead.
1. Books and Beer
If you’re a fan of the written word and booze, you’ll be in your element at Books and Beer, a monthly or bimonthly (depending on how the organisers feel) book swap held at cafes and bars all over Singapore. You don’t even have to buy a beer if you don’t want to. Show up with a book or two you’d like to donate and then browse the shelves to pick out as many pre-owned tomes as you like, all donated by other guests. The vibe is relaxed and you could well find yourself being enticed into a conversation about the pile of books you’re about to cart home.
2. Singapore Really Really Free Market
They say nothing in life is free; at the SRRFM, however, you get to forget about the real world for an afternoon. All the offerings at this market, which range from books and snacks to haircuts and fortune telling, are completely free of charge. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own stuff to share with the rest.
This is probably the only time being in a mass of other Singaporeans doesn’t devolve into some kind of dog-eat-dog competition. The SRRFM is held once every few months.
3. Lunchtime Concerts at the Asian Civilisations Museum
If you work in the CBD, skip the queues at the hawker centre during lunchtime and head to the Asian Civilisations Museum across the river from Boat Quay on Fridays at 12:30pm. Musicians from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at NUS take to the stage at the Shaw Foundation Foyer. Whether you’re listening to a piano recital or watching a string quartet, it’s definitely a more uplifing way to spend lunchtime than listening to more office gossip.
If you’re a polyglot or simply managed to get through the Singapore education system without completely flopping at your so-called mother tongue, brush up on your language skills at Tête-à-Tête, a bimonthly language exchange session held at a different cafe each time.
There are tables featuring Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish and German at virtually every session, as well as wildcard languages that change each month. If you’re a native speaker of any language other than English you can request to open your own table as well. I wonder if being fluent in Hokkien swear words counts?
5. Green Drinks
If you have an interest in environmental issues and… want to get some free food and drinks, check out the Green Drinks sessions. Far from boring lectures, the sessions are more like an informal mixer and cover subjects relevant to regular people, like how Singapore’s urban environment can be made more sustainable in the long run (overcrowding, anyone?) and the future of commuting given the rising population numbers and sagging public transport system. You’ll run into lots of intellectual and urban planner types.
6. Movie Mob
Catch a free movie under the stars at one of Movie Mob’s screenings. Grab your car keys and drive-in or simply grab a mat and cushion and chill out on the grass. Unlike most free public screenings, many of the films on show aren’t sanitised, kid-friendly movies. They have screened experimental films, raunchy comedies, sci fli flicks and weepy dramas, all at no cost.
Have you been to any of the above events? Share your experiences in the comments!
Digital Pimp (cover photo), Books and Beer, Singapore Really Really Free Market, MovieMob by Ape