Chinese New Year, or also known as Spring Festival, is a major highlight in Singapores calendar of events. It is one of the most eagerly anticipated occasions in Singapore. The festival begins on the first month and on the first day of Chinese calendar and ends 15 days later.
Being the biggest, merriest and most significant event of the Chinese community, Chinese New Year celebrations start way before the festival arrives. You can sense the excitement in the air weeks before the New Year as enterprising merchants line Pagoda street and Terengganu Street with their colorful stalls. Families start to shop for their new year goods (such as red-paper decorations, red envelopes called hungpao, baskets of mandarins, lanterns, new clothes etc), do the spring cleaning and decorate their houses before the New Year comes. One of the most important tradition is the New Year Eves Reunion Dinner where all members of the family come together and eat. Most Singaporeans families have a steamboat dinner for their Reunion Dinner.
Most people will be wearing their new clothes on the New Years day. After that they will spend the first few days of these public holidays to visit their family members, relatives and friends. During these visits, children receive red packets filled with money called hung pao from parents and married couples. The red packets signifies blessing from the adults.
The hub of all activity during the festival of course is Chinatown. The best time to absorb the lively atmosphere is during the Chinatown Street Light Up. This is when Chinese lion dance, female dance troupes and fire eaters grace Kreta Ayer Square with their mesmerising performances. But Chinatown is not the only place to celebrate the lunar new year. There is also an annual Singapore River Hung Pao carnival held at Marina Promenade which is worth a visit. You will find the entire fairground decorated with legendary heroes, mythical creatures, pagodas, Chinese gods and cherry blossoms. Lions and dragons are prominent characters in Chinese mythology.
The River Hung Pao is a huge and lively fair, featuring a variety of traditional food, arts and folklore from ancient China. Visiting performers, craftsmen and artisans, flown in from selected provinces in China perform nightly cultural performances, displaying their amazing skills in everything from finger painting to Chinese calligraphy to acrobatics. You can even have your palm read, consult to the astrologers about your Chinese zodiac sign, feng shui career and many more.
The centerpiece of the festivities is the Chingay Parade. The Chingay Parade is the biggest parade in Singapore. It features hundreds of performers from all over the world. Originating as a procession to mark the Lunar New Year festivities, it has also evolved into an international event, featuring everything from salsa dancers to Taiwanese acrobats.