You’ll think manga characters have literally invaded Singapore, going by the 1,000 mascot characters that will parade down Orchard Road, from Orchard Central to *SCAPE, come Jul 2.

But this is part of the colourful launch of SHINE Youth Festival 2011, the annual gala organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) from Jul 2 to Jul 30, that encourages local youths to show their talents, to chase after their dreams and shine.

Now in its 7th year, SHINE celebrates the month of youth with a more dazzling line up of events than before – ranging from mascot parades to dance lessons from Pussycat Dolls, deejay workshops to star-studded performances.

At the media conference at *SCAPE Warehouse on Jul 22, Martin Tan, Chairperson of SHINE Youth Festival Steering Committee, said, “We’ll bring all the young people together, make it the biggest party in Singapore for youth organisations and youths from all strata of Singapore.”

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From left: Eric Chua, Co-chairperson of the SHINE Youth Festival 2011 Organising Committee sharing alongside Martin Tan, on plans ahead for SHINE Youth Festival 2011.

This year’s Jul 2 launch at *SCAPE, will see multi-levels of partying with a total of 13 activities, such as concerts, flea markets and even pillow fights, throughout the 5-store building.

In view of the popularity of cosplaying among youths, the theme of this year’s COSMO Youth Parade is named “Cosplay I Luv”.

Cosplayers are encouraged to loudly display your love for animation, gaming and TV characters though this platform. If you’re interested but not enough to have a costume made, COSMO Youth Parade 2011 even offers more than 400 free on-site beginner-friendly costumes for you to get a taste of this culture. Be a brave warrior, or even a character from Alice in Wonderland, or a mutant hero from X-Men – you name it, they probably have it.

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A showcase of cosplayers as a preview to Cosmo Youth Parade 2011.

Local music fans won’t want to miss their night concert featuring popular local acts such as Derrick Hoh, Jack and Rai, Tay Kewei and Juz-B. These successful local artistes serve as an inspiration to budding singers who wish to follow their passions. Admission of this concert is free for all.

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Groove to the music when local talents such as a capella group Juz-B perform at the night concert.

Another highlight of SHINE 2011 is the widely anticipated hip-hop dance convention, The Big Groove (TBG), organised by O School Ltd. As a part of this year’s festival, TBG returns with the new theme “Year of the Heroes”, with the aim to celebrate dancing in honour of dance talents who have conquered their aspirations after years of endeavor and hard work.

Heroes of the dance industry, such as Rino Nakasone (Pussycat Dolls) and Maryss from Paris (The Beat Freaks), will offer dance master-classes that will be held from Jul 6 to 9. Ardent dance fans will also be thrilled to know that a TBG Showcase Finale will be happening on Jul 10. In this power-packed show, renowned crews, such as The Beat Freaks from USA, Wreaking Crew Orchestra from Japan and local dance team Joyce and the Boys, are expected to give electrifying dance performances that will blow your mind away.

Magic lovers, fuel your magical energy as *SCAPE In Colour, a series of events organised by *SCAPE Co. Ltd, conjures up the *SCAPE Magic Carnival held at the *SCAPE Warehouse. With action-packed magic tricks, this monthly comical theatre performance, starring local magician Kiki Tay, will send audience into fits of laughter in a second and have them gasping in surprise the next.

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Comedian-magician Kiki Tay shows his fire-eating tricks in a preview performance of his magic show.

But that’s not all. *SCAPE in Color also provides promising artists a second home with the Art Park along other fun-filled events. The Art Park will have murals that you can paint on and create your own art masterpieces. In doing so, you may just find all the encouragement you need to further pursue their talents and dreams.

From a colourful beginning to an equally visually spectacular finish comes Ballooning Blitz 2011. Organiser SMU is trying to create a mega sculpture of balloons that will be attempting a Singapore Book of Record for “Most Number of People Building a Balloons Sculpture at the Same Time”, as well as to show youngsters that everyone has their rights to dream and achieve whatever they aspire despite their various backgrounds.

Miss being part of its creation? You can still see the balloon sculpture themed “The Enchanted Castle” at NEX Serangoon for a week. While you’re there, do remember to contribute to charity, as there will be sales of creative balloons sculptures as a part of fund-raising efforts for less fortunate children from En Community Social Services, a community services society which carries out social work.

So what’s your hidden talent? You may find a way for it to come to the fore when you join in the fun at SHINE 2011!

To know more about the events on SHINE 2011, presented by its 5 key partners: Mascot Parade, performing arts centre O School, Singapore Street Festival, Singapore Management University (SMU) and the youth-centric *SCAPE, log onto http://www.shine.nyc.sg.