From September to February is Festival time in Singapore. Chinese lanterns, tiny fairy lights and multi-coloured displays light up the island as the various ethnic groups – Chinese, Malay and Indian – celebrate their different traditions. It’s a great idea to join one of the free walking tours through Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India, that coincide with the festivals.
Christmas Light-Up Tours – The Main Events:
The Christmas Light Up Tours on the free open top bus, run right through to the New Year, and there is no better way of getting a fantastic view of Singapore’s “Fairy Tale Christmas” light-up, which this year tells the magical story of a love between a Toy Soldier and a Ballerina, than on the tour bus.
Six Christmas Light-Up Tours are planned to take place nightly from 7.30pm to 10.00 pm. A free boarding pass will be given on presentation of a valid passport at the Singapore Visitors Centres at Changi Airport, Orchard Road and other selected distribution points.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri, September – 21 October
Two spectacular light-up ceremonies for Hari Raya Aidilfitri will take placein September at Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam, continuing until 21 October, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In Kampong Glam, the Malay Heritage Centre will be the focal point of the festival, with weekend performances, bazaars and cultural demonstrations. During the entire period there will be traditional and lively street bazaars, at which visitors can expect to find fantastic bargains in handicrafts, textiles and fashions.
Chinatown and Singapore River Mid-Autumn Festival, 8 – 30 September
This is a Chinese Festival, a celebration where families and friends gather together to enjoy mooncakes and tea while viewing the moon at its fullest and brightest. Lanterns, street lights and festive bazaars will grace Chinatown and the Singapore River for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
This year, Chinatown will be turned into fairyland. Helping to add magic will be lantern art by local schoolchildren which is being showcased by the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
As part of the celebrations along Singapore River, there will also be a unique lantern display of 100 Chinese surnames and cultural performances at Hong Lim Park.
Deepavali, 12 October – 18 November
During this period, Little India comes alive with street carnivals and lights to usher in Deepavali, or the Festival of Lights. In another part of the Deepavali celebrations, devotees walk across a bed of burning coals in Singapore’s oldest Hindu Temple at the Theemidhi Festival on 29th October.
Chinese New Year, 7 – 21 February (Year of the Rat)
As in all Chinese areas, the Chinese New Year is the biggest festival celebrated, and Singapore does it with bells on. Symbolised by rich red decorations and age-old traditions such as the reunion dinner, fifteen days of celebration brings together in celebration, Chinese families and friends.
Singapore Christmas in the Tropics:
The key highlight of the festival is the Singapore River Hongbao wherein the marina promenade is transformed into a Chinese cultural village. Here there will be an amazing line-up of performers for the festivities and activities. A fitting finale to the celebrations is the Chingay Parade of Dreams, a grand parade of floats with technicolour displays, lavishly costumed performers, rhythmic music and thousands of spectators.
The whole is all part of Singapore’s Christmas in the Tropics, a long running celebration with spectacular feasts, concerts and count-down parties. During the last two weeks of November, buskers line Orchard Road, Singapore’s premier shopping street, providing free festive performances in the midst of the Christmas shopping frenzy.