The Lunar or Chinese New Year (or CNY) is one of the biggest festivals in Singapore. For the entire month of February, Chinese families will be busy spring-cleaning, whipping up meals of epic proportions, watching fireworks, lion dances, and the Chingay parade, and tucking into celebratory yusheng—an auspicious dish where participants have to shout out blessings while tossing the colourful shredded raw vegetables mixed with raw fish. (Every ingredient in this dish signifies good luck, health, or a blessing. If you’re unsure of what to say, just shout “Huat!” which means prosperity in Hokkien.)
Colourful, noisy, and steamy (think Chinese hot pot), Chinese New Year is a time for merrymaking with your family and friends. During the first two days of the festival, people are out on the streets all day, visiting relatives and friends. Ladies are decked in fashionable, figure-hugging cheongsams; men too are dressed to the nines with spanking-new outfits and shoes. Meanwhile, children of all ages gleefully pocket their red packets (hongbao) filled with fresh dollar bills.
With island-wide festivities running from Chinese New Year’s eve to the 15th day of the first lunar month, this period is also one of the best times to visit Singapore. Let the PARKROYAL on Pickering team give you the lowdown on some of the best sights and sounds during this festive season.
Venue: The Float @ Marina Bay
20 Raffles Avenue
Hours: 2.00pm – 11.00pm daily (3-10 February 2019; event recurs annually depending on lunar calendar)
Admission fee: Free
Venue: F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Blvd, Singapore 038975
Hours: 8:00pm to 9:30pm (15-16 February 2019; event recurs annually depending on lunar calendar)
Admission fee: SGD 28.50/40/50
Address: 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981
The Lunar New Year is the time to indulge your senses and River Hongbao is one such avenue. An musical and carnival extravaganza spanning over a week, the event allows you to experience Chinese culture in its full glory. Expect to mingle with the crowds, chomp on local delicacies and street food, or receive showers of blessings from the “God of Fortune” daily. Cap it all off with a spectacular fireworks and countdown party on CNY eve.
For those who can’t get enough of fireworks, fret not; there’s still the Chingay Parade, a uniquely Singaporean version of the Mardi Gras. “Chingay” means “the art of costume and masquerade” and that’s pretty much what you’ll get, and more – think prancing lions, stilt walkers, and over-the-top floats.
Touted as the largest street performance and float parade in Asia, Chingay was mooted by the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew; with all its fanfare and gaiety, it appeared to compensate for the island’s ban on firecrackers, formerly a popular practice during this season to drive away evil spirits.
If you prefer a taste of culture without the crowds, your safest bet is Huayi – an annual Chinese Festival of Arts that features a delectable line-up of theatre, dance, and music performances by outstanding Chinese artists from Singapore and beyond.
Held at the Esplanade, this year’s 17th edition of Huayi will feature The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark from Beijing Li Liuyi Theatre Studio, Khalil Fong's TIO concert tour stop, and Painted Skin -- An Opera in Concert by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, co-commissioned with the Esplanade.. There are also theatre events for the whole family so be sure to check these out!
Get directions to The Float @ Marina Bay
Get directions to Chingay (F1 Pit Building)
Get directions to Esplanade
Address: The Istana, Orchard Road, Singapore 238823
On the day of the Lunar New Year, the Istana’s gates will be open to the public in celebration of the festive season. The Istana is one of Singapore’s key points of interest. During its opening hours (usually between 8:30am to 6:00pm,) visitors can take a tour around the main building, or join a guided walk through the gardens for the chance to learn about the Istana grounds’ flora and fauna.
Lunar New Year is also when the streets of Chinatown are filled with a contagious energy. From around 6pm daily, lanterns will come alive and fill the streets with bursting colour. There will also be all manner of new year goodies to buy and munch on, from the mouth-watering bak kwa (charred slices of roast pork) to the ubiquitous pineapple tart.
For something a little more child-friendly, head to Sentosa. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore, the playfully named “State of Fun” will welcome feature renowned Mandopop songstress A-Mei and her fellow singers Anna and Eve Ai this 2019. Dragon and lion dances will come roaring into the Universal Studios Singapore™ and the S.E.A. Aquarium, and restaurants on the island are opening for festive feasts.
Get directions to Istana
Get directions to Chinatown
CNY is also the time to gather with family and friends to enjoy a grand reunion dinner as an auspicious and heartwarming way to usher in success and abundance for the year. Why not hold your family’s reunion dinner at LIME restaurant at PARKROYAL on Pickering, located in the heart of Chinatown and close to the CBD?
Remember to “Lo” (toss) to your heart’s content, while pronouncing words of blessing such as “Huat” (prosper), “Wan Shi Ru Yi” (may your wishes come true), or “Cai Yuan Guang Jin” (may wealth flow in.) For a helpful list of suggested greetings, check out this website.