Café Fest Singapore happened over the weekend (06 to 07 September) at the Waterfront Promenade and the event organisers claim it to be the world's first Café-hopping festival. Many of you (including myself initially) will probably wonder, what do you do at this festival and how do you stomach more than three coffees at one go (although many of us do not ask this question at Oktoberfest)? Café Fest Singapore brings twelve different cafes in Singapore together at one convenient location as event-goers get to bake in the sun while enjoying live music from local bands.
Like many others who were excited to jump in on the bandwagon, I purchased a VIP Ticket for S$30, which is inclusive of the following benefits (or so the event organisers claim):
- Cheaper Festival F&B Prices
- UBER Ride (capped at S$20)
- Welcome Drink
- Exclusive (and Restricted) VIP Area
- Spa Esprit Voucher Notebook (valued at S$35)
- Access to Festival Entertainment & Games
- Fast Track Registration
- Awesome Tote Bag
The registration area was ran by volunteers and I registered at the VIP counter to get an inked stamp on my right hand and a not-so-awesome tote bag. The event vibe was good - people were sharing communal tables (in the heat nonetheless), there was energy, music and great coffee too. To be honest, I was enjoying myself quite a bit until I started to realise what was going on - ticket holders were not given what we were entitled to.
Here were some of the MAIN problems:
#1 Purchasing Food and Drinks
The online FAQ on Café Fest Singapore firmly states that "only festival pass holders can purchase F&B from the 12 cafés. However, this is evidently not the case on the day of event. EVERYONE could purchase from the cafes on the day of event and ticket holders were given a miserable S$0.50 or S$1.00 discount off the public price. Therefore, to break-even, I would have to purchase 30 coffees (since the VIP Tickets were S$30 each). Uh, I don't even drink that much at Oktoberfest.
#2 Unrestricted VIP Area
The restricted VIP Area where entry was intended to be strictly enforced by event organisers for VIP Ticket Holders only was taken up by everyone who wanted to be there - regardless of whether or not they had a ticket.
#3 S$30 Tote Bag
Sure, the CPF abbreviation is slightly witty and funny but it isn't worth S$30. The only thing of value inside was a Nets Flashpay card that had zero value in it. The Spa Esprit vouchers were fine except I don't see myself at a waxing parlour anytime soon. I did not also get 3 months worth of Spotify Premium in the tote bag (even though I committed to a more expensive ticket fare earlier)!
#1 53A (and the live music)
We all know and love 53A from Timbre so having them there was a definite plus. The music was good and 53A kept everyone amazed and entertained. The rest of the performers also did pretty good at capturing the crowd's attention and provided the event with a much-needed ambience.
#2 Coffee, of course!
Having all twelve cafés in one location is ingenious. Singaporeans love our coffee (some love the beverage more, some love Instagram more) and we love to take photos of it. Charming baristas, aromatic coffee and delicious cold brews - there's really nothing much more you can ask for on a Saturday afternoon (except perhaps a swimming pool but let's not be impossible).
#3 Instagram-Worthy Food
From cute Rilakuma macarons to ice-cream sandwiches, the food selection at Café Fest Singapore was great! They did however run out super quickly so good job to whoever that stole my last chicken hotdog with pepper vienna from Tiong Bahru Bakery!
The event was unique to Singapore and it was definitely a step in the right direction in promoting the local café and music landscape. I guess if I did not purchase a S$30 VIP Ticket, I would have enjoyed it a lot more since I would have gotten to see 53A up close and personal anyway. While the event organisers did try to salvage the event on the second day by putting in certain systems in place, it was long overdue and people were already unhappy. Increasing the price for non-ticket holders isn't a particularly bright move.
Encouraging VIP queues and special promotions should have been considered at the very start if you wanted to change the conditions of purchasing F&B at the event. Besides, just a little heads-up would have been nice. I'm definitely curious to see how the this event would pan out over the next couple of days. People (and I mean the VIP Ticket Holders) are angry and they need to be appeased in one way or another.