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 can easily experience many festivals during 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 might not get to see on an ordinary day!
One of the country’s major holidays, Chinese New Year marks the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The dates of Chinese New Year are different every year as they follow the lunar cycle, but generally fall between January and February. Chinese New Year practices include gathering family members for a reunion 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 at NS Square, the Marina Bay floating platform, that features enormous lanterns depicting the animals of the Chinese zodiac, along with 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, which 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 (known as "kavadi")—definitely a fascinating process to witness.
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 high-octane races, 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 observe a holy month known as Ramadan (between May to June, held prior to Hari Raya Aidilfitri). 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.
Occurring 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. During this festival, children carry and parade their lanterns with their families and friends.
Around October and 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 tonnes 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.