Singapore's Hawker Culture Added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List

Singapore’s Hawker Culture Has Been Officially Added to UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

This is Singapore’s first successful inscription in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage!

Singapore’s hawker culture has officially been added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This was announced during the virtual proceedings of the 15th Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) session. 

This recognition brings joy to many people in the country who see hawker centres as a go-to place for affordable yet delicious meals! Even tourists never fail to get a taste of the vibrant hawker culture when they visit Singapore. 

We can’t think of a more joyous way to celebrate the thriving hawker culture in Singapore! 

Singapore's hawker culture

Singapore’s hawker culture is the first successful item from Singapore on the intangible cultural heritage list. The other 463 entries in the list include Yoga in India and Belgian beer. It is also the country’s second entry into any UNESCO list. Earlier in 2015, Singapore Botanic Gardens was labeled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Recognising the hawker culture in Singapore

Singapore’s recommendation was unanimously accepted by a 24-member committee in what was deemed as a historic occasion for the country. 

The application, which was a result of the three years of work put in by the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency, and the Federation of Merchants’ Associations, was adopted within about three minutes of the committee proceedings. 

Also read: It’s Official: Singapore Is One of the World’s Best Cities for 2021

Mr. Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, said that hawker culture in Singapore is a source of pride for the country and its people. It encompasses the diversity, multiculturalism, and heritage amongst people, and holds a special place in their hearts.

Singapore's hawker culture 

He also expressed his gratitude to the hawkers and the public for their overwhelming support with regards to this nomination. Additionally, President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also thanked those involved through Facebook. 

The addition of Singapore’s hawker culture to the list means that the country needs to preserve and promote it. Additionally, they will have to submit a report to UNESCO every six years detailing their efforts to protecting and transferring the hawker culture to future generations. 

How is Singapore celebrating this occasion?

Apart from the recognition and subsequent commendations, Singapore’s hawker culture will also be celebrated through the SG HawkerFest. This is a way for members of the public to appreciate the country’s hawkers. 

The SG HawkerFest will take place across three weekends between 26 Dec 2020 and 11 Jan 2021. Those participating will be able to rediscover Singapore’s lively hawker culture and express their wishes for the future. 

They can also take part in activities like online treasure hunts and quizzes. They can claim virtual badges for completed quizzes which can be exchanged for dining vouchers redeemable from a list of 29 participating hawker centres. 

Singapore’s hawker culture is truly unique to the country’s diversity. We certainly can’t be happier about the win and the fest following it! For more information regarding the SG HawkerFest, visit their website

About Author

Shreya Nair
Shreya Nair

Shreya believes that travelling is about making long-lasting memories. Her favourite part about travelling to a new country is collecting postcards and documenting her experiences. The immortality of the written word is what fuelled her love for writing. She hopes to someday combine her passion for writing and travelling!


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