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Chinese New Year in Singapore: An Islandwide Celebration

2013's Year of the Snake Celebration in Singapore Lasts 53 Days


Chinese New Year  Stall, Chinatown, Singapore
90664717@N00/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Chinese New Year in Singapore marks the debut of the Year of the Water Snake in style, with a fantastic celebration spanning the whole island. The Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore's Chinatown begin on January 18 and continue till March 11.

For 2013, the Chinese New Year celebrations revolve around the theme "Spring of Happiness", with a special focus on the snake, the 6th animal in the Chinese Zodiac and the focal creature for this particular year.

Go to this page for images of Chinese New Year in Singapore.

Chinese New Year in Singapore's Chinatown

Chinese New Year in Singapore kicks off in the ethnic enclave of Chinatown, particularly along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. The Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations transform the island-state's traditional Chinese enclave into a riot of lanterns, street stalls, and performing arts, with celebrations extending as far as Marina Bay. (Find out more about Shopping in Chinatown, Singapore.)

Look forward to a few key events of the season: a Street Light-Up, a Festive Street Bazaar, Nightly Stage Shows, and the Singapore River Hong Bao.

Street Light-Up. Key streets in Chinatown - Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road, South Bridge Road, and Garden Bridge - will be lit up with traditional Chinese lanterns and colorful street lights while street performers and acrobats (not to mention the inevitable lion dancers) liven up the lanes. Local Singaporean celebrities will also show up to get the party going.

For the second year running, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) participated in the design and construction of the Chinese New Year Light-Up. For 2013, the SUTD team created a snake-themed light-up for the record-books - a snake sculpture over 108 meters long, and another setup comprised of 850 sky lanterns bearing the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac.

The 3D snake sculpture - arguably the light-up's central element - is made up of about 5,000 red cube lanterns near the arch facing Chinatown Point, and 88 cube lanterns along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. At South Bridge Road, 850 sky lanterns form another striking snake design.

The light-up was launched in a ceremony on January 19 on Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road.

Festive Street Bazaar. Chinatown will host more than five hundred stalls selling traditional foods, flowers, Chinese handicrafts, and customary New Year decorations. Have a go at barbecued sweetmeats, waxed duck, and cookies served fresh on the street, or pick up some traditional Chinese New Year decorations to remember the day by.

The Lunar New Year bazaar stalls line Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street within Chinatown. For the 2013 celebrations, the Bazaar runs from January 18 to February 9.

Chinese New Year Countdown. Ring in the Chinese New Year in Singapore's Chinatown, as you join the locals and local celebrities alike with firecrackers and fireworks going off all through the evening.

For 2013, the Chinatown Chinese New Year's Eve Countdown Party takes place on the evening of February 9, along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, from 9:30pm to 12:30am.

Nightly Stage Shows. Local and overseas cultural performance troupes take the stage, exhibiting traditional Chinese performances like martial arts, lion dances, and Chinese opera. Come to the Kreta Ayer Square, next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, to see acts unfolding every evening.

For 2013, the stage shows run from January 19 to February 9, beginning at 7:30pm and ending at 10pm.

Singapore River Hong Bao Carnival

Moving on to the Singapore riverside, The Float @ Marina Bay hosts the yearly Singapore River Hong Bao carnival. (To find out what else Marina Bay is good for, read our list of Top 10 Things to Do in Marina Bay, Singapore.)The "Hong Bao" derives its name from the traditional red packets of money given by older Chinese to unmarried younger relatives during Chinese New Year.

Nightly cultural performances and traditional Chinese artwork can be enjoyed outdoors, and giant lanterns fashioned after popular Singapore landmarks loom larger-than-life. This year also features foreign delicacies from Guangdong, China, alongside Singaporean food favorites at the outdoor Food Street in Singapore. (More on Singapore's cuisine here: Ten Dishes You Should Try in Singapore. )

Watch Chinese acrobats perform on the street. Have your name written in Chinese calligraphy. Get a Chinese zodiac reading of your birth date. Or just watch the nightly Main Stage Shows unfolding on the Float, featuring local performers and foreign talents. If you want to get into the swing of Chinese culture for the duration of the festival, the Hong Bao is the place to be.

For 2013, the River Hongbao 2013 takes place between the 8th and 16th of February. Admission is free.

Singapore's Chingay Parade

"Chingay", in its Hokkien equivalent, translates to "costume and masquerade". The normally staid Singaporeans take Chingay to its more colorful and musical extreme every year during the Chingay Parade, a two-night street party and parade that marks the climax of the Chinese New Year celebration.

The parade is now proudly international, growing from its purely Chinese traditional roots to embrace more than 80 local organizations, 7,400 performers and 1,800 volunteers, with international performing groups from China, Denmark, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

The Chingay parade route takes place in front of the Formula One Pit Building against the backdrop of the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay. Parade participants will ride on floats, or walk in the procession, offering a riot of color and noise that few other Singapore festivals can equal.

For 2013, Chingay takes place across two parade days, on February 22 and 23. This year's claim to fame: the "World’s First and Biggest Fire and Snow Parade", with over 3,000 performers creating simultaneous “ocean of fire” and "snow blizzard" effects down a 360-meter runway.

Chingay tickets can be purchased from SISTIC ( sistic.com.sg). Tickets are also available at Singapore Visitors Centre at Orchard Road and Singapore Pools Outlets. For more information, visit the Chingay website: chingay.org.sg.

Getting There, and Accommodations in Chinatown

Transportation: The Chinatown-centered festivities can be very easily reached by MRT - simply alight at Chinatown MRT Station (NE4/DT19). To get to Chingay and the River Hong Bao, you can go to Marina Bay by riding the MRT and disembarking at the Esplanade MRT Station (CC3), Promenade MRT Station (CC4/DT15), Raffles Place MRT Station (NS26/EW14), or City Hall MRT Station (NS25/EW13).

For more on Singapore's convenient commuter system, read our article on Riding Singapore's MRT and Buses with the EZ-Link Card .

Accommodations: For accommodations closest to the Chinese New Year festivities, you can consult our lists of hotels in the Chinese ethnic enclave: Chinatown, Singapore Hotels and Budget Hotels in Chinatown, Singapore; or check out accommodations closer to Chingay with our lists of Marina Bay, Singapore Hotels and Riverside Singapore Hotels.

Singapore Touristline

For more information, you can reach the Singapore Tourism Board's Touristline at 1800 736 2000 (toll-free in Singapore) or +65 6736 2000 (from overseas). The line is open from 8am to 7pm daily, Singapore Time. Visit the Singapore Tourism Board website here: www.yoursingapore.com.

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