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You know you are witnessing the lead-up to the country’s National Day when you hear the distinctive sound of helicopters and fighter planes overhead—a sure sign that the Republic of Singapore Airforce’s rehearsal for the National Day Parade’s aerial display is in full swing.

You’ll also see the island turning patriotic shades of red and white—largely from the flags fluttering from buildings, houses and even cars.

The little country that could
RSAF Helicopter carrying the Singapore flag

Photo by Andrew Tan

The Singapore story is well known—how it achieved independence in 1965 amid severe doubt it could survive at all with its tiny size and the lack of natural resources.

Yet the island succeeded against the odds, deftly navigating its way through stormy waters of domestic turmoil, regional strife and international politics.

It made use of every single advantage it had, emerging on the world stage as a major commercial hub, financial centre and global player.

A parade that truly dazzles
Fireworks during National Day Parade The Float @ Marina Bay

Photo by Choo Yut Shing

And in this way, the national narrative has been shaped over the years, a narrative that is retold in varying ways every year during the National Day Parade.

Audience members sit back to enjoy a stunning spectacle of military parades, multicultural song-and-dance performances and aerial high jinks capped by a breathtaking firework extravaganza set against the stunning cityscape framed by the Marina Waterfront.

While National Day officially falls on the 9th of August, rehearsals for the occasion begin three to four months in advance, with preview shows on the two weekends leading to the celebration.

If you’re in the vicinity on a Saturday, be sure to stick around for the chance to witness the fireworks. While timings tend to vary, you’ll be able to witness this spectacular display from around 8pm.

What's Unique

It’s in the bag

Spectators at the show also get a ‘funpack’—the National Day Parade version of a goodie bag. Large, lightweight and water-resistant, the design varies every year but invariably contains different useful items, from snacks and drinks to bandanas and lightsticks.

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