Southeast Asia in Arts Festivals: Jan – Feb 2017

We’re barely into the new year, but the dedicated art lover is, no doubt, already exhausted from the recently concluded M1 Singapore Fringe Festival and Singapore Art Week. Pace yourselves, as there are more festivals across Southeast Asia over the next month.


M1 Fringe Festival: Art & Skin, Singapore : 4 – 15 January 2017

Still from ‘Skin Tight’, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. Photo credit: M1SFF 2016

The annual M1 Singapore Fringe Festival was first held in 2005, marking this its 13th iteration. Under the Artistic Directorship of Sean Tobin, this year’s festival is themed Art & Skin and includes performance,visual arts, discussions, workshops  and mixed media by local and international artists.

Aliwal Urban Art Festival, Singapore: 14 January 2017

Photo credit: Aliwal Arts Centre

Part of  Singapore Art Week (11 – 22 January 2017), the festival is housed in the Aliwal Arts Centre and features urban art, dance, community projects and performance. There is something for everyone  – the young, the old and the in-between – including spoken word, music, a family-friendly market, dance workshops and more.

Art Stage Singapore: 12 – 15 January 2017

Art Stage. Photo credit:

It’s the 7th year that art dealers, collectors, artists, critics and art lovers gather to celebrate the best of contemporary Asian art – as art and as commodity. This year, there are some 120 galleries from 27 countries presenting works, so it’s a fantastic way to enjoy regional art without having to face an immigration officer. It’s not just to cuci mata. You can be part of the conversation, or at least listen in through the the Southeast Asia Forum, Net Present Value: Art, Capital, Futures.

Singapore Contemporary: 19 – 22 January 2017

Photo credit: Singapore Contemporary

If you’re interested in works that are a tad more affordable and scoped from beyond Southeast Asia, then check out Singapore Contemporary. It’s the second iteration of the event and features 90 exhibitors and over 3,000 works for collectors and art lovers. This year, Singapore Contemporary will be structured around five principle sectors – Photo17 Singapore, Latin American Voices, Artists Dialogues, China Encounters, and Gallery Projects. There is something for everyone in the family, with art tours, kid’s studio and art talks.

Art Fair Philippines, Makati City: 17 – 19 February 2017

Art Fair Philippines. Photo credit:

Another new player in the regional arts market is Art Fair Philiphines, which features the best of contemporary visual arts from the country. One of its missions is to develope an audience for works by Filipino artists. A busy schedule of talks, lectures and discussions are integral to the event. Check out full details here.

Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts, Melbourne, Australia, January – April 2017


Daniel Kok and Luke George's 'Bunny'. Photo credit: AsiaTOPA
Daniel Kok and Luke George’s ‘Bunny’. Photo credit: AsiaTOPA

This one goes on for four months! It’s got an exciting program that is multi-genre, challenging, and collaborative in nature. Southeast Asian artists involved include Singaporeans Ho Tzu Nyen, who co-creates a work, Anti-Gravity with Anouk van Dijk of Chunky Move and Daniel Kok working with Luke George on Bunny (you’ll never look at macrame the same again). From Indonesia, renowned filmaker Garin Nugroho’s film Satan Jawa’s score will be performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and an Indonesia gamelan orchestra. Then there is the exhibition Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia, which is self-explanatory, so we’ll stop here.

World Film Festival of Bangkok, Thailand: 20 – 29 January 2017


The 14th World Film Festival of Bangkok was originally planned for November 2016 but was postponed at the passing of Thailand’s beloved monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, last year. The festival, like most film festivals, wants to “introduce quality, non-mainstream films from all over the world.” This year, over 80 international films, covering a range of genres will be screened. Expect master classes, workshops, talks, guides to funding  and other activities.


Fringe Manila, Philippines: 8 – 25 February 2017


Fringe Manila was launched in 2014 and the program is open and inclusive. So open and inclusive there is no festival director selecting what you watch. It’s  an open-access arts festival – artists register to be included and can present anything they want.

Wonderfruit, Pattaya, Thailand: 16-19 February 2017

Wonderfruit is set in the Grounds of the Siam Country Club in Pattaya. Photo credit:

This festival, launched in 2014 just might be Southeast Asia’s answer to Coachella (presuming that was even a question asked to begin with). It’s a  haut-hippie festival set in the tropics – art, architecture, performance, music, culture, food and activities –  where you don’t just attend a festival, you experience it. And you get to do good for the planet while you’re at it! It’s programmed with a social conscience and a commitment to the environment –  to offset its carbon footprint, the festival organisers will invest in Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, a diverse, rich ecosystem in Indonesia.


This is an inexhaustive list of arts festivals taking place in Southeast Asia, or festivals that feature Southeast Asian artists prominently. If you would like a festival to be added to this list, please let us know by sending an e-mail to akanksha(at)

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