Pic credit: Gardens by the Bay
The Chinese New Year period is upon us again, and although things may not feel as festive as they usually do due to the ongoing pandemic, there are still plenty to celebrate this 2021! While many families in Singapore are still opting to celebrate the Lunar New Year with safe distancing measures in place, some might be looking for new and safer ways to usher in the Year of the Ox.
Not sure HUAT to do this Chinese New Year? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! From flower displays to lantern light-ups and even virtual events, here are 9 things you can do this Lunar New Year in Singapore!
1. Chingay 2021
Pic credit: Chingay
While most large scale events have been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, Chingay is continuing with its annual Lunar New Year celebrations!
One of Singapore’s biggest parades, Chingay is back for another rendition, although this time, most of it will be held online. The festivities have already begun, with a slew of activities held across the island. Themed “Light of Hope”, this year’s line-up includes a chance for members of the public to design their own “stylo” costume and Chingay float, as well as a dance competition.
The highlight of the event will be the parade itself that will be broadcasted on television, social media as well as on the event’s social media channels to keep the event accessible to all. One of the highlights of this year’s parade is the lion dance performance, which includes troupes from over 10 different cities.
Although some are sad that this year’s event will be held online instead, this gives organisers a chance to make use of technology to create performances that have never been seen at physical parades. This also allows the public to be a part of the parade, as video submissions showing off your singing and dancing skills are welcome. For more details on this year’s Chingay as well as any offline activities, please refer to their website.
Chingay 2021 (Light of Hope)
Date: 20 Feb, 8PM-9PM
Location: Home (Parade will be broadcasted on TV and various social media platforms)
2. Chinese New Year Chinatown Virtual Tour
It is not Chinese New Year without a trip to the bustling precinct of Chinatown! However, with strict social distancing measures in place this year, many have decided to skip the trip this year. If you are still looking for a way to visit the area safely, sign up for the Chinese New Year Chinatown Virtual Tour!
This special Chinese New Year virtual tour lets you explore the bustling area of Chinatown right from your home, as a ‘live’ guide will take you through the elements of culture, street art and history that this precinct holds. Marvel at the festive decorations as you visit some of Singapore’s most iconic temples, and you will even get a chance to to get a peek at one of the last wells left in Singapore!
Not only will you get to learn more about the dark history behind this cultural precinct, but you will also stand a chance to win $250 worth of attractive prizes, including a pair of tickets to the Southern Islands Discovery Sunset Sail worth $100! The virtual tour makes use of interactive game elements as part of its story-telling, and the more participative you are, the higher your chance of winning a prize.
This special festive-edition of the Chinatown virtual tour is not to be missed, so make sure you book your tickets today to enjoy early bird pricing! For more details on the event or to book your tickets, please click here.
Chinese New Year Chinatown Virtual Tour
Date: 20 Feb, 10:30AM-12PM
Location: Home (Tour will be conducted via Zoom)
Price: $5 for early birds (Book now till 13 Feb), $8 for purchases made after 13 Feb
3. River Hongbao 2021
Pic credit: River Hongbao
One of the most well-known Chinese New Year events in Singapore, River Hongbao is back for another edition this year! While activities such as student-led tours and fireworks are missing this year, much of the festivities continue.
Held at Gardens By The Bay this year, the event will offer a variety of physical and virtual events. The physical event showcases 24 giant lanterns including the 12 zodiac animals and even an 18m-tall Cai Shen Ye (God of Fortune). Other onsite offerings include an exhibition on the history of Lion Dance, including artefacts that date back to the 1950s!
The online section of the event includes pre-recorded performances such as the lion dance and getai performances, as live performances are not allowed on-site due to safe distancing measures. Other online offerings include games as well as a virtual well, where contributions will be donated to charity.
For those who wish to check out the lantern display in person, please note that you will be required to book a time slot online before heading down. Time slots on weekdays are 90-minutes long, while slots on the weekend last for 120-minutes.
Click here for more details on River Hongbao 2021!
River Hongbao 2021
Date: 10-16 February, 2PM onwards
Location: Gardens by the Bay (18 Marina Gardens Drive)
4. Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations
Pic credit: Shin Min Daily News
Another well-known Chinese New Year event is the Chinatown Light-Up, which features lanterns that light up at night across the precinct!
The theme for this year’s event is “Usher in Good Health, Prosperity and Happiness”, and the 880m light-up will feature 888 lanterns including the 12 zodiac animals, ingots and blossom trees. The centrepiece of the light-up can be found opposite Chinatown Point, and is made up of a 10m tall golden ox surrounded by gold coins and ingots. This is also the 10th year that SUTD students have helped design the lanterns.
While the main highlight of the event has continued despite COVID-19 restrictions, other festivities such as the Festive Street Bazaar and Countdown Party have been cancelled. In place, short films about Chinese New Year delicacies will be streamed on the Chinatown Festivals’ Facebook page throughout the month.
For those who wish to stay home and avoid the potential crowds, there is also a 360 Virtual Tour which will be available soon, which includes a heritage trail led by volunteer guides. More details can be found here.
Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations
Date: 23 January - 12 Mar 2021
Location: Chinatown precinct
5. Dahlia Dreams at Gardens by the Bay
Pic credit: Gardens by the Bay
While most of us may associate Chinese New Year with hongbaos (red packets) and festive goodies, did you know there are seasonal blooms associated with the Lunar New Year? If you want to learn more about these flowers, a trip to the Dahlia Dreams exhibit at Gardens by the Bay is the perfect way to explore more of these plants associated with the festive season.
In case you didn’t know, Dahlia Dreams is an annual Chinese New Year floral display in the Flower Dome that features seasonal blooms. This year’s display includes auspicious symbols and elements, and features over 1000 dahlias grown in-house by a team of horticulturists! Chinese New Year favourites such as azaleas, chrysanthemums and cymbidiums are also on display.
Aside from the flowers, the centrepiece of this year’s display is a lantern globe that is made up of over 200 lanterns, and it’s the perfect place to snap some IG-worthy photos. The moon gates are a traditional part of architecture in Chinese gardens, so make sure you look out for it as you explore the display! A Chinese pavilion and display panels featuring the 12 zodiac animals have also been put up as part of the display.
Due to current safe-distancing measures, visitors are required to pre-book their timed-entry tickets online as ticketing is not available on site. For more details, please visit the Gardens by the Bay website.
Date: 15 Jan - 21 Feb, 9AM-9PM
Location: Gardens by the Bay, Flower Dome (18 Marina Gardens Drive)
Price: From $12 for adults (Admission charges to the Flower Dome apply)
6. Wan Qing Festival of Spring
Pic credit: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
If you’re looking to usher in the Year of the Ox with your little ones, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall has the perfect line-up of family-friendly activities!
Known as the Wan Qing Festival of Spring, the annual Lunar New Year celebration is perfect for families looking for a new way to celebrate the festivities with their little ones. From Chinese drums workshops to craft stations and even a lion dance workshop, these activities are a great way to introduce children to Chinese culture and the festivities of the Lunar New Year.
This year’s celebrations also include a special installation on the lawn of the memorial hall which features two Guardian Lions. Known as Foo Dou, these lions are traditionally installed in front of Chinese palaces to protect those in the building. For those looking to rediscover a new side of Singapore, the Balestier Heritage Trail lets you uncover unknown stories behind a neighbourhood rich in history.
Aside from activities available onsite, there’s also a variety of programmes available online. Learn how to make your own fried nian gao (sweet rice cake made from glutinous flour) and find out more about the dos and don’ts when watching a lion dance performance. For more details on the Wan Qing Festival of Spring including dates for workshops, click here!
Wan Qing Festival of Spring
Date: 5 Jan - 28 Feb, 10AM-7PM
Location: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (12 Tai Gin Road)
Price: FREE (Additional costs required for certain workshops)
7. Spring in the Sea at the S.E.A Aquarium
Pic credit: S.E.A Aquarium
Want to celebrate the festivities someplace unique? How does a trip down to the S.E.A Aquarium sound?
Spring in the Sea is back for another edition this year, with new line-up activities to usher in the Lunar New Year. The highlight of this year’s festivities is the Trail of Fortune, where visitors stand a chance to win a prize. All you need to do is keep an eye out for the gold ingots hidden across the habitats and make sure you snap a photo of them! Visitors will get the chance to learn more about the traits and behaviour of different species like the scrawled cowfish, which some consider to be a living symbol of good luck.
Other kid-friendly activities include a DIY dragon wall, where children will be given scales to stick onto the dragon to help complete the art piece. A special mythical sea dragon installation also provides the perfect spot for some festive photos, so make sure you stop for a few quick snaps before you leave.
Visitors will be required to pre-book their timed-entry tickets online before heading down, and take note that the S.E.A Aquarium is only open from Saturday to Tuesday. For other on-going festive promotions, please refer to their website for more details.
Spring in the Sea
Date: 9 Jan - 2 Mar, 10AM-5PM on weekdays and 9AM-5PM on weekends
Location: S.E.A Aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa (8 Sentosa Gateway)
Price: From $23 (Admission charges to the S.E.A Aquarium apply)
8. Moo Moo Park
Pic credit: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
While we might expect Lunar New Year celebrations to include traditional elements such as lanterns and lion dance performances, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) has put a modern twist on the festivities with Moo Moo Park!
In collaboration with The MeshMinds Foundation and 8 local artists, Moo Moo Park is Asia’s first Drive-Through exhibition. Inspired by the Year of the Ox, the exhibition focuses on the importance of Sustainable Development Goals through art, and it even makes use of AR (augmented reality) to make the experience more interactive for guests.
Guests can choose between a walk-through or drive-through experience, with an electric car onsite for those who pick the latter option. Ticket-holders are also entitled to perks, such as 10% off at Kevin Khoo Bistro and an exclusive SCCC talking red packet! Simply use the in-app camera on Facebook to scan the QR code and an animated Ox will appear to teach you to say some common New Year greetings!
The centre is also offering a variety of online activities, including a game for young ones to play that will teach them more about Chinese New Year greetings. For information on Moo Moo Park, please visit SCCC’s website.
Moo Moo Park
Date: 22 Jan - 28 Mar, 12PM-5PM on weekdays and 12PM-10PM on weekends (do note that the timing for the drive-through option varies)
Location: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Level 6 Carpark (1 Straits Boulevard)
Price: From $5 per pax
9. Usher In The Fun
Pic credit: Universal Studios Singapore
If your little ones are too young to fully understand and appreciate all the festivities, it doesn’t mean that they should miss out on the fun! Take them out for a day of fun at Universal Studios Singapore, where a special line-up of activities are bound to enthral your little ones.
It may be hard to find dragon dance performances this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but visitors to the theme park will be treated to a special performance featuring a few crowd-favourite characters. Special character meet and greets are also part of the festivities, and little ones will get the chance to meet some of their favourite characters like Po from Kung Fu Panda, Gru and his minions as well as the neighbourhood friends of Sesame Street dressed up for the occasion!
Fan-favourite characters, Optimus Prime and Megatron will be at the park greeting guests with festive Chinese New Year greetings! A visit to the park will also be a treat for your taste buds, as limited-edition Chinese New Year dishes such as a special yusheng pizza and festive burgers are available throughout the park. Before you leave, don’t forget to try your hand out at a Mandarin tongue-twister for a chance to win a little surprise!
Due to current safe distancing measures, visitors are encouraged to pre-book their timed entry tickets before heading down. If you’re planning a trip down, do note that Universal Studios Singapore is open from Thursday to Sunday. For more details including festive promotions, please visit their website.
Usher In The Fun
Date: 7 Jan - 28 Feb, 2PM-9PM
Location: Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa (8 Sentosa Gateway)
Price: From $43 (Admission charges to Universal Studios Singapore apply)