With bright colours, non-stop revelry and sheer exuberance, Chinese New Year is one festival that demands all of your attention – and energy.
Celebrate different cultural events right here in the city. Being a nation that’s home to a myriad of races and cultures and with something significant taking place almost every other month, you may get to experience the various festivals happening on your trip here.
From Chinese New Year to Deepavali, here’s your guide to Singapore’s annual cultural celebrations. Plan your holiday wisely and be rewarded with special sights and sounds that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to immerse yourself in on an ordinary day!
January – April
One of the country’s most major holidays, Chinese New Year marks the first day of the first month in the Lunar calendar. The dates are different each year as it follows the lunar cycle, but it generally falls between January and February. Some practices include gathering family members for a reunion steamboat dinner and giving away ang bao (red packets containing money).
In honour of Chinese New Year, there’s the annual River Hongbao – a vibrant festival held on the Floating Platform at Marina Bay which features enormous lanterns depicting the animals of the Chinese Zodiac and a smorgasbord of fringe activities like amusement rides and street performances.
There’s also the Chingay Parade, a grand display of the country’s multicultural heritage with visually-stunning highlights like majestic floats and stilt walkers.
In January or February, there’s also the Hindu festival, Thaipusam. During this period, devotees gather to seek blessings and fulfill their vows in this amazing spectacle that starts from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road and ends at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on Keong Saik Road.
During this two-day festival, some of the devotees pierce their cheeks with metal prongs and carry decorated altars (aka kavadi) – definitely a fascinating process to witness.
May – August
Held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, expect exciting Dragonboat races and delicious rice dumplings.To watch a high-octane race, head to places like Bedok Reservoir, Kallang River, and the Marina Bay area. For rice dumplings, Kim Choo Kueh Chang is a top pick amongst locals for this savoury treat.
Muslims in Singapore observe a holy month known as Ramadan (June or July). During this period, Muslims in Singapore gather at the end of the day to break fast at sundown. During this month, visit areas like Kampong Glam and Geylang Serai for night markets that sell clothes and best of all, special sweets and savouries.
September – December
Occuring every September is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which marks the end of the autumn harvest. When night falls, families gather in places like Chinatown and Chinese Garden to feast on mooncakes, a traditional pastry which comes in a variety of flavours while children carry and parade their lanterns with their families and friends.
Around October or November, the Festival of Lights commonly known as Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus. This colourful, lively extravaganza is best experienced in Little India, where the streets are lined with beautiful lights. There are tons of bazaars too, so get ready to shop, try authentic Indian fare and take amazing photos of the street light-ups.
With so many festivals to be part of and celebrations to witness, there’s always something to keep you intrigued.