Behind the Scenes with the crew of Adult Playground: Bigger, Bolder, Better

Adult Playground is Singapore’s the world’s first and largest outdoor festival! Decked out across all of Siloso Beach at Sentosa this November will be 22 different activities at the ready to be tried and tested by you, the intrepid thrill-seeker, alongside food trucks and local bands for the food gourmand and music lover alike!

Adult Playground Singapore at Siloso Beach Sentosa things to do in Singapore

To those on the hunt for a unique outdoor experience to occupy an otherwise dull weekend in Singapore, never say never. Heard of Bossaball, or tried your hand at Archery Tag, or had a go at bubble soccer? Well, now’s your chance to do all that and more at a full-blown Adult Playground. Let’s get physical.

 Adult Playground Singapore - Let's Get Physical

We go behind the scenes with the organising team of Adult Playground to pick their brains on how it is they’re pulling off such a crazy awesome concept, their advice to dealing with vendors and volunteers, and more about the event’s long-term vision and charitable mission!

Can you tell us how you envision Adult Playground to be like on 8th November? What can people expect?

Ellen: It’s literally a playground for adults with giant slides, lots of games, and lots of adults unleashing their inner child. I hope it’ll be good weather by the beach, not too hot or cold. It’ll be a festival with music, drinks, food, and we hope that everyone will have a good time! Our main goal really is to show Singaporeans that there’s actually lots to do here and to leave in wide-eyed wonder.

There’s a ton in store – a slacklining and bossaball performance with professionals enacting stunts, 22 activities to choose from, charity fundraisers, constant activity and not a dull moment. The best part is you get to enjoy it all with friends, make new friends, and be surrounded by happy people!

Ellen, you’ve been organising events of a smaller scale of 10-40 people for a while now under your experience discovery platform, 22 Experience. What made you decide to take the leap in organising such a large-scale event as Adult Playground? How did it all begin?

Ellen: It was actually an idea sparked by feedback from our regular participants of activities organised under 22 Experience. Many gave us the feeling that they wanted a bigger yet casual sports event they could enjoy with friends!

So the idea was already planted in my mind last year but I wasn’t comfortable with it. But this year for some reason, I had peace about it and thought why not, to just do it! It’s exciting to see how it all happened. I can’t pinpoint to when I made the decision exactly but I guess the cumulative experience of doing more than 50 events has given me the confidence. I want to give so much value in bringing several activities together and make it accessible for more people.

How do you manage and delegate for an event of such scale?

Ellen: Going step-by-step helps. When I first applied for the STB (Singapore Tourism Board) Kickstart Fund, I had no team in place! But within two weeks through referrals, I managed to get in touch with Daniel and our marketing team. Everything happened so fast!

I looked out for people with complementary skills to form the team to manage the different aspects of Adult Playground. My co-organiser, Daniel, is very well connected and I felt he is passionate about the project. At the end of the day, I went with intuition in putting together the team and it all fit together nicely!

What would you say is important in putting together a team?

Ellen: Intuition! Also, watch how responsive people are to you and how passionate they are about your event.

Daniel: There is a certain amount of risk in deciding to work with someone but it comes down to intuition.

Your event’s name and tagline are both probably more literal than cheeky but was the play on words intentional? How did you come up with them?

Ellen: Cheeky yes, since we are an innovative event, we wanted to choose a name that sticks. Adult Playground has been so far a name that people remember. We hope they take the extra look at the concept and find out for themselves that “Adult” just means 18+ year old and Playground means 22 outdoor sporting activities .

It’s interesting – there’ll be 22 activities, and initially only adults above 22 years of age can participate. Is there a reason for the number 22?

Ellen: 22 is a number referenced to mean light or revelation. I want to enable people to discover how much Singapore has to offer! That’s my passion. Since we had so many enquiries from 18+ year olds, we are now also allowing them to register if they can bring parental consent.

Did the 22 activities have to fit a certain mould to be considered?

Ellen: Based off the past 50 outdoor events I’ve organised under 22 Experience, I knew which were the more popular ones. So activities like bubble soccer and archery tag were must-haves. Ultimately, they had to be unique sports by local vendors.

Do you think it’ll be feasible to complete all 22 in a day or how should we go about our play date?

Ellen: We did our calculations and on average, people will be able to try out at least seven games in a day. Each activity has its own unique value – water vs. land, sweaty vs. comfort, so pick what you like and you don’t have to be super sporty to have fun!

What inspired you to include an element of music, in particular, local music?

Daniel: We wanted to have a holistic approach to Adult Playground and much of what we’re doing this year is in preparation for making it a scalable event.

If this year works out, we’ll run it for a few days next year including both local and international acts! For now, we want to make the inaugural event successful so we’re limiting the capacity to 6,000 people. Eventually, we want to make Adult Playground the reason for people to visit Singapore.

What do you think are the most important aspects to note when establishing vendor relations?

Daniel: Be clear and honest about what you need from the start – how much you can afford and what you want to accomplish. Instill confidence by letting vendors know that you do not want to bargain but would like to make things work for both parties in a win-win situation. Involve your vendors by partnering or giving them a stake in your event. Be clear and open in your communication and build a good working relationship; do not look at it as purely transactional.

Beyond fun and games, we understand the event’s also on a greater mission to raise awareness of sports for the physically handicapped. Why and how do you intend to do that through Adult Playground?

Ellen: Even in the events I organise each month with 22 Experience, I try to have at least one volunteering event. There are lots of opportunities to make a difference and through it I’ve built connections with some charities.

When we selected the Singapore Disability Sports Council as our supported charity for Adult Playground, they immediately offered to host wheelchair basketball.  In this way, it not only helps to raise awareness and donations, it engages people to also experience and empathise with how difficult it is to be in another’s shoes.

Adult Playground Singapore - Team Singapore Wheelchair Basketball

Team Singapore playing Wheelchair Basketball

We heard you’ve got an army of volunteers for your event already! That’s no easy feat. Could you share your secret sauce as to how you managed to get so many on board?

Ellen: Think the main incentive for most was in having half a day off to have fun and take part in the Adult Playground! After all, it’s only logical that they need a break after half a day. We hope we treat our volunteers right and that they bring their friends along too.

Congratulations on being an awardee of STB’s Kickstart Fund! What do you think was the deciding factor?

Ellen: Being unique and innovative! Sports events in Singapore tend to be a concept from elsewhere and implemented here, take the themed Fun Runs for example. Adult Playground is a multi-sports event and not just a single sport like a run or a competition. Lastly, we think that the combination of sports and music promoting local businesses is a unique opportunity for Singapore to show what there is on offer on a new level.

Do you have any advice to organisers interested in applying to the Kickstart Fund on increasing their chances of success?

Ellen: Just try! STB’s very open to applications and the guidelines are all on their website, plus they host meetings once every quarter. If you have an event idea, just present it but make sure you’ve got a solid proposal!

Daniel: Do your research, especially matters related to making it a financially viable event.

Adult Playground 4-storey slide

Join in the fun this November at a life-sized Adult Playground! Early bird tickets at $68 and Early bird group tickets at $59 will end on 22 September, Monday – get tickets to Adult Playground now.

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Claire Ding

Claire Ding is the Community Manager at ticketing platform Peatix in Singapore. She runs a community event for organisers, Backstage Pass , where organisers connect with others and learn tips on event management. Quite the thrill-seeker, Claire’s gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and enjoys anything that puts her on edge (quite literally), it’s no wonder she’s in the business of events with never a dull moment!