Singapore's "Christmas in the Tropics" is a (mostly) secular festival, celebrated with a highlight on shopping, entertainment, Christmas lights, and Santa showing up in full furs despite the fact that Singapore is smack in the middle of the tropics.
The shopping districts of Orchard Road and Marina Bay explode in a shower of light, while adjoining malls and shopping centers put on extended hours and special deals to attract sightseeing tourists. And when New Year ticks down, countdown parties will pull out all the stops!
- Scenes from Christmas in the Tropics: continue to this image gallery - Images of Christmas in Singapore.
Here's a rundown of what you can do during Christmas in Singapore:
Singapore Christmas Light-Ups
Every Christmas in Singapore, Orchard Road and Marina Bay's streets glow with stunning light shows that blaze through the island's prime shopping and entertainment districts. This, combined with the late mall hours and promos put in place during Christmas season, make nighttime shopping in Singapore way more fun.
Orchard Road Christmas Light-Up. The Orchard Road light-up - a spectacular street-length light show - stretches over a mile down from Tanglin to Concorde Hotel. For 2012, Orchard Road will be divided into three zones, each with its own motif for the light-up: Tanglin will feature a "Tree for Joy" theme, the Orchard Road central zone will have a "Heart for Love" theme, and the Somerset area will reflect a "Dove for Peace" theme.
2012's Orchard Light-Up begins on November 17, and shuts down on January 6, 2013. For hotels in the vicinity of the Orchard Light-Up, read this article: Hotels on or near Orchard Road, Singapore.
Celebrate Christmas in Singapore Event. From December 17 to 25, a spread of nightly performances, parades, and displays will entertain the crowds doing their last-minute Christmas shopping on Orchard Road.
Interactive displays will play out alongside a nightly drive-past of seven beautifully-decorated floats. A caroling choir with 1,000 participants will also entertain the crowds around the Orchard Road Christmas tree.
Finally, a Christmas concert will be held on December 25 between Scotts and Bideford Roads, marking the arrival of Christmas Day. Visit the Celebrate Christmas in Singapore - Official Site for more details.
Marina Bay Christmas Light-Up. Marina Bay's light-up features 25 decorated "ChariTrees" that glow, illuminating the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade after 7pm. 2012's Marina Bay Light-Up begins on November 9, and shuts down on December 28. For hotels in the vicinity of the Marina Bay Light-Up, read this article: Marina Bay, Singapore Hotels.
Christmas Light-Up at Sentosa Harbourfront. The entire Sentosa/Harbourfront precinct will be set aglow with Christmas lights. VivoCity launches an "Illuminate!" display, HarbourFront Centre features a "Royal Christmas Adventure", while Sentosa will showcase life-size Playmobil figures, topped off by a Christmas Village at the Jewel Box.
The Sentosa Harbourfront Light-Up begins on November 24 and shuts down on December 31.
- More information: Continue to this article on Singapore Christmas Light-Ups.
Tourist Shopping Privileges and Promotions in Singapore
Shopping is the central activity for Christmas in Singapore. Outside of the Great Singapore Sale, the promotions and the freebies offered by Singapore's shopping centers are some of the lowest yet, designed to hitchhike on the Christmas spirit and get Christmas bystanders come in and buy, buy, buy.
The tax-free shopping in Singapore benefits tourists who come to spend Christmas in town; they can redeem the tax they pay on their shopping as soon as they leave the country. (Do your research with this article: Gift ideas and shopping tips for the holidays)
Shop with VISA @ Orchard Promotion. From November 17 to January 6, Visa cardholders can receive a SGD 10 shopping voucher, if they make a minimum charge of SGD 200 within two same-day receipts at participating malls.
Global Blue Promotion. From November 17 to January 6, tourists who request a tax refund on their Singapore shopping purchases get a chance to win a return trip to Singapore. To qualify, you'll need to make a minimum total purchase of SGD 100 using your MasterCard, or SGD 200 using any other payment mode, then use the Global Blue eTRS ticket to claim your tax refund. The grand prize includes the round-trip economy-class ticket and two nights' stay at the Marina Bay Sands. More info here: official site.
- More information: Continue to this article on Singapore Christmas Promotions for details on each promo, participating malls, restrictions, links to the official sites, and a growing list of other promotions.
Christmas and New Year Countdown Parties
Singapore holds a number of parties to ring in the new year, one at Marina Bay and the Esplanade waterfront, and two others to be thrown at Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island.
ZoukOut 2012.Singapore's longest-running and most-awaited music dance festival kicks off on Siloso Beach, Sentosa, on December 7 and 8, uniting partygoers in a sea of music, dance and good vibes.
Marina Bay Singapore Countdown. Singapore's foremost New Year party happens at Marina Bay on the evening of December 31, with fireworks and performances bursting forth against a highly-modern backdrop. To mark the countdown, celebration, a Wishing Spheres visual art installation will pour into Marina Bay. Singaporeans write their wishes for the New Year onto 20,000 giant "wishing spheres", and the spheres will be set afloat on December 31.
Singapore Sentosa Countdown. At Siloso Beach on Sentosa, a far more raucous party will ring in the New Year. Stilt-walkers, dancers and fire-eaters will amplify the excitement launched by the fireworks. And they're bringing back the foam pool! The party starts on December 31, 6pm at Sentosa Siloso Beach.
- More information: continue to this article on Christmas and New Year Parties in Singapore to get more details on these parties, tickets and transportation to the party venues.
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.