Five Footway Festival brings fun, games, performances, food and unique workshops to Chinatown in March

Hokkien Puppet Show _ Five Footway Festival
Hokkien Puppet Show

When the Five Footway Festival returns to Chinatown from Mar 9 to 17, you can experience age-old childhood games, street snacks, opera performances, movies, and theatrical tours along Smith, Pagoda, and Sago Streets.

Organised by the Chinatown Business Association and programme partners, it will take place in various locations across Chinatown, where the streets will come alive with the hustle and bustle of the 1900s. 

The festival takes its name from the covered walkways of about five feet wide that run along Singapore’s old shophouses. These places in Chinatown hold a remarkable place in Singapore’s history as they have left enduring legacies of tenacity, hope and culture.

Singapore Hok San Association - Southern Lion Dance Performance
Singapore Hok San Association’s Southern Lion Dance Performance

Lim Yick Suan, executive director of Chinatown Business Association, says, “Through the Five Footway Festival, we look to bring visitors of all ages to experience the lives of old Chinatown, Singapore, through sights, sounds and flavours, bridging the past to the present, with interactive elements for all to try.”

Delve into the history, clans and associations of the area through the exhibition, The Warmth and Bustle of The Five-Footways. A collaboration with Sun Yat-Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and students from Hwa Chong Institution, it shines a light on the way of life, values and traditions back then, as well as how early immigrants lived at the Five Footways, and how they remain an integral part of the community.

Walking trails and folk tales
The Conserved Buildings in Chinatown walking trail by Do It SG teaches visitors about the conservation of heritage buildings and the activities that used to line the Five Footways. Joss Stick Storytelling presents intriguing folk tales, while the Tan Ah Huat Theatrical Walking Tour provides an insight into the area in the 1920s through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant.

Let's Go Tour - Tan Ah Huat in Chinatown _ Five Footway Festival
Let’s Go Tour – Tan Ah Huat in Chinatown

As a tribute to its previous name of Theatre Street or Hei Yuen Kai, Smith Street will captivate you with Cantonese, Teochew, and Peking opera performances, along with a Hokkien Puppet Show by Ge Yi Ge Zai Xi and a Kirin dance performance by the Yan Wong Cultural Troupe.

Pagoda Street offers childhood games such as can-and-ring toss, hoop wheeling, chapteh, zero point, and snakes and ladders visitors, including families, can enjoy together. You can also treat yourself to much-loved traditional snacks such as Kacang Putih, and biscuits. 

, Five Footway Festival brings fun, games, performances, food and unique workshops to Chinatown in March
Zero Point

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and greet performers dressed as Samsui women on stilts and men wearing the post-WWII khaki shorts and grey shirt uniforms of Singapore’s police force. There will also be movie screenings, dragon dances, and demonstrations of wushu.

A date with tradition
There will be plenty of food, including street food and traditional eats. The Hakka Imperial Kitchen, for example, will take you on a journey through the making of Hakka rice wine, showcasing the rich heritage of Hakka culture. 

Five Footway Festival_Tong Heng - Make your Good Own Omelette Toast
Make a traditional omelette toast

Learn to make a traditional omelette toast with help from Tong Heng Chinatown, attend AMD Wedding’s Traditional Wedding Talk, and hone your culinary skills with Auntie Helen as she teaches Hainanese pineapple stir-fry pork rind and fried preserved beans with chicken in her culinary class. 

Additionally, chef Colin of Let’s Go Tours will hold Put Chai Ko Making Classes. These are traditional Cantonese desserts made with red beans and rice. Learning how to handle the glutinous rice flour base and balance its flavours will prove to be an educational journey that teaches patience and precision. Register for culinary classes and learn to make traditional dishes at the Chinatown Visitor Centre.

As part of the festival, you will also have the opportunity to learn some traditional skills through other workshops and classes. With Colourful Dialects, create your own idioms and slang colouring books while learning their meanings and how to use them. If you prefer, you can take Ping Sheh’s Introduction to Peking Opera class or attend the Yan Wong Cultural Troupe’s Kirin Workshop to experience their music, movements, and more.

Admission to the Five Footway Festival is free. Tickets for selected workshops can be purchased via To find out more, check out Chinatown Visitor Centre.