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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Singapore Youth Festival

The Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) is a yearly event organized by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to celebrate and promote the diverse talents of youth in the field of arts. The event comprises 3 programs, Arts Presentation, SYFgoesOnline! and Arts Exhibition.

Students showcase their art pieces in Art Exhibition, perform various arts in Art Presentation, and SYFgoesOnline! is a virtual art festival (created because of the covid-19 restrictions) where students present and exhibit their art.

Each year, more than 30,000 students take part in different activities and performances.

The SYF is an important yearly event that refines the skills of students, builds friendship, strengthens bonds, and creates a common and shared experience for the younger generation, and that too in a healthy workspace.

Through this festival, the MOE intends to promote a well-rounded education – promoting much lesser known and extraordinary Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs).

This year, the SYF was scheduled to take place between April to August!

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What is the History of the Singapore Youth Festival?

In 1966, there used to be an event in Singapore called the Festival of Music and Dance, then known as Pesta Music dan Tarian. The same event found a more permanent identity, as the Singapore Youth Festival in July 1967.

The SYF was officially launched by Mr. Yusof Ishak – the president then, at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The event was initially a two-week festival and 24,000 students took part in it.

Introduction of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition

1n 1968, the Victoria Memorial Hall saw the first SYF Arts and Crafts Exhibition. Many students showcased their compositions, including the famous composition by Cerise Lim, a Secondary 3 Methodist Girls’ School student.

Sports were also featured, including the Field and Track Championships, which were being held since 1967.

Over the years, the festival kept growing, until 1975, when some people complained that SYF was over-emphasized in the academic sector and was cut down to a one-night event.

Introduction of Drama Presentation

In 1976, Drama Presentation was introduced in the SYF. In 1980, The Singapore Youth Orchestra was featured and the Choral Festival entered the festival in 1990.

In 1991, the SYF started public performances at various places including Jurong Bird Park, the National Museum of Singapore, the Chinese Garden, and shopping malls such as Parkway Parade.

The SYF was Declared a National Event

After a lot of public performances by the SYF, the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong declared the SYF a national event in 1994.

Additionally, it was announced that other youths from Institutes of Technical Education, Polytechnics, youth clubs, universities, and the National Youth Council and People’s Association can also participate in the festival.

In 1992, a mass jog was held, the Youth Flying Club was featured in 1996, and the National Heritage officially entered the SYF in 1997.

Singapore Youth Festival in Modern Age – the SYF 2022

The SYF evolved over the years and a lot of programs were added or eliminated to the festival. In 2002, the SYF adopted a thematic approach, showcasing a different theme each year, such as ‘Opening Hearts’, to espouse the aspirations and values that youths ought to seek.

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It also included youths with special needs – from Tanglin Special School, Singapore School of the Deaf, and Delta Senior School.

Covid-19 and the SYF

When covid-19 hit the world, the SYF did not stop their artistic mission, instead, they introduced a new segment, called SYFgoesOnline, a virtual art festival.

Students from all over Singapore showed their creativity and resilience through mini projects involving art, dance, music, and drama. Through this initiative by the SYF, parents also understood the benefits of investing in digital education.

This virtual festival included the usual programs like Let’s Jam Together, Pixel Perfect, SYFPlayCHKK Son!, The Young Playwright Presents…, The Youth Station Project, Design Challenge, and DanceVerve.

However, a new platform called My Screendance! was introduced in DanceVerve 22. Let’s look more into it!

My Screendance!

DanceVerve is a smooth amalgam of modern and pop dance. Its new platform, Screendance, welcomed students from MOE Primary and Secondary schools, Millennia Institute, Junior Colleges, and Special Education schools to participate and create a dance film, (screen dance) based on any dance genre.

Apart from decent dancing and choreography skills, Screendance also requires effort and one needs to have subtle filming/editing techniques to create plot twists and layers of complex human emotions.

The whole experience becomes an interesting interdisciplinary mix of film, dance, and music. The modern animation effects help craft a distinctive and hybrid form of performance art – making it a magical viewing experience.

Free Art Workshops Organized by the SYF

Covid-19 changed the working dynamics of every sector and so was the case with the SYF. The organizing team was worried that children will lose out on education and CCAs due to covid-19 circuit breaker measures.

This festival was created to promote performance arts in students. When a pandemic threatened the artistic abilities of rising stars, SYF didn’t hold back and organized a free workshop for its new platform, My Screendance!

Because the platform was new and most students had little to no knowledge about the required skills, a workshop was organized on 16 March 2022.

It helped students understand the language of screen-based work and all the skills, such as framing, movement, editing, and choice of music, required to pull off a great Screendance.

It was open to all students in audio-visual or media-related CCA, Dance CCA, and any other student having an interest in creating a film involving dance.

How to take part in the Singapore Youth Festival?

If you want to channel your inner artist at the SYF and don’t know how to register for the festival, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!
Let’s take a look at the signup steps for an Art Presentation platform, Let’s Jam Together.

How to Participate in Let’s Jam Together

1. Seek parental/guardian consent for participation in Let’s Jam Together.

2. Feature yourself and your submission on the SYF social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and SYF website.

3. You will be then provided with a link to an online form and you must fill in the following details.

– Full name of the group leader, as it will be reflected later on the e-certificate.
– School
– Class
– Contact number
– Email address
– Parent’s/Guardian’s name and contact
– The full name(s) and school (s) of group member(s), as it will also be used on the e-certificate.
– Email address(es) of group members
– A short paragraph of 20-100 words, explaining why you wish to participate in this particular platform.

4. After successful registration, your group leader will receive an invitation to join a classroom in BandLab for Education. All the group members will use that link to join the classroom and will share the space.

5. Click on the links sent to you and join lessons 1-4 on BandLab.

6. The first three lessons are designed to help you learn how to perform different music parts, arrange a cappella music and use BandLab. Each of the lessons may take 20 minutes to complete.

7. Lesson 4 will help you learn how to arrange, record, and export your cover. You’ll need one hour for arrangement and another 30 minutes for each member, to record their parts. Arrange and record the cover and submit it on the due date. To maintain a good balance, your arrangement should include at least one Soprano/Lead, Alto, Tenor, and exactly one Bass and Beatboxer.

8. Groups with missing parts, e.g. no Beatboxer or Bass, may use a prerecorded audio stem (found in the resource folder) to complete the arrangement.

Note: The SYF will not consider your submissions if they can’t access them or have unclear audio. All the registrants will be notified about the outcome, through email within a week of the closing date.

The registration methods of different art forms are different and are mentioned in detail on the official website of the SYF. If your submission is valid, you’ll receive an e-certificate of participation. It will be reflected on your CCA record upon submission to your CCA teachers.

Opening Ceremonies of the SYF

In 1988, the SYF witnessed its first official opening ceremony, which was presided over by the Minister for Education, Dr. Tony Tan. The performances that lit up the first opening ceremony of the SYF are as follows.

1. A combined parade of uniformed groups led by the National Cadet Corps
2. A flashcard display of 13 murals created by 5,200 students
3. A nine-band display combined with 150 female dancers
4. A flag drill conducted by over 1,400 boys
5. A fan dance involving some 1,000 girls

The 2010 SYF opening ceremony was hosted by the National Police Cadet Corps, following a theme, called “Torch of Friendship”, as a tie-up for the renowned Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

In 2016, the SYF celebrated its 50th anniversary, with the theme YOUTHforial.

The inaugural uniformed groups were held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza and in the same event, the Parade of Bands made its first appearance at Orchard Road, after 24 years.

The Art Exhibition Artist and Space was also held for the first time at The Arts House.

Opening Ceremonies of the SYF in Recent Times

Even today, the SYF organizes full stadium-sized ceremonies with marching contingents by the uniformed groups and also organizes various indoor ceremonies in which different groups showcase their performing arts.

The grand outdoor ceremonies are held during the even-numbered years and the latter ones are held during the odd-numbered years.

These ceremonies are still going strong every year, even after the National Stadium has asked for a temporary shift to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, because of rebuilding.

The traditional outdoor ceremonies, including the one in 2010, are also held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The organizing team of the opening ceremony of the SYF alternates between two Uniformed Student Organizations, i.e. National Cadet Corps and the National Police Cadet Corps.

Which type of Performing Arts is Presented at SYF?

Other than the SYFgoesOnline, which was introduced during the covid-19 pandemic, the SYF is mainly divided into two types of art display methods – Arts Presentation and Arts Exhibition.

Let’s learn more about them.

Arts Exhibition

This platform celebrates the artist in every student and also signifies access to art for students in the art curriculum in different schools. The 2022 Arts Exhibition featured artworks from Junior Colleges, Secondary schools, and Millennia Institute.

The 2022 exhibition theme was ‘Artist and Sustainability’ which encouraged students to submit original artworks that depict how individual and collective actions can positively impact the present and future generations.

Students were asked to dig deep into the meaningful relationship between their personal experiences and aspects of sustainability concerning culture, people, or the environment.

Normally, these art exhibitions are showcased at the festival but this year, because of the pandemic, these were showcased in the online gallery via the SYF website. This year, a curated selection of artworks of students was also presented for public view at the National Museum of Singapore.

These activities also provided students with many opportunities to learn more about the examining topic of sustainability in a local and contemporary context and helped them become independent learners.

Arts Presentation

The SYF Arts Presentation, also called SYFAP, is another performance platform that provides tons of learning opportunities to students – helping them improve their skills through feedback from industry professionals.

This year, the SYF also provided live streaming links of these performances and welcomed the public to witness the art of the younger generation.

The arts presented at the SYF also updated with time and in 2016, Chinese Orchestra, Band, and Dance were broadened to include a few sub-categories as well.

For example, Dance was further divided into Instrumental Ensemble (Angklung/Kulintang, Gamelan) and Chinese, Indian and Malay dance.

Likewise, Band was also subdivided into Instrumental Ensemble (Guitar, Strings, Handbell/Handchime, Harmonica) and Choir was added to the category of Chinese Orchestra.

Different Art Groups and their Rotation Schedule

Generally, performing arts that are presented at the annual SYF are judged in turns. For example, some groups that perform the same art are judged on even years while others on odd.

Let’s take a look at these art groups and their annual rotation schedule.

Performing Arts GroupEven-Numbered YearsOdd-Numbered Years
Display BandSecondary Schools-
(Brass, Concert, Brass Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble)
Primary Schools

Secondary Schools/Junior Colleges
Chinese Orchestra
(Full Orchestra, Mixed Ensemble)
Primary SchoolsSecondary Schools/Junior Colleges
(Chinese, Indian, International, Malay)
Primary SchoolsSecondary Schools/Junior Colleges
(English, Chinese, Malay)
Junior Colleges/Centralized InstituteSecondary Schools
ChoirPrimary SchoolsSecondary Schools/Junior Colleges
Instrumental Ensemble
(Angklung, Gamelan, Guitar, Handbell / Handchime, Harmonica, Strings, Guzheng
Primary SchoolsSecondary Schools/Junior Colleges

In 2012, MOE made efforts to renovate or restructure the SYF, and as a result, the former SYF Central judging was renamed the SYF Arts Presentation.

The award structure was also shifted greatly, and the former awards like Gold (with Honors), Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Certificate of Participation were replaced with Distinction, Accomplishment, and Commendation.

Additionally, the score needed to receive the highest award was also lowered from 85% to 75%. In the past few years, the SYF also partnered up with several corporate groups, to help finance public performances and to sponsor important events.

For example, the cash incentive prizes for Best Drum Major Award and the Best Display Band Competition were sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell, a British multinational oil and gas company.


The SYF plays an important part in incorporating different forms of art in the youth and continues to be the country’s number one national event. The festival supports nation-building and develops cultural awareness and appreciation among the younger generation, through aesthetic education.

The students can develop their social and emotional learning through arts, while having a blast. Incorporating CCA in schools also helps students become super organized – realizing that CCAs are as important as academics.

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Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.