There’s so much local buzz around Singapore and Asia in the lead up to Chinese New Year but, as an expat, how do you make the most of the Spring festival period? With parties galore and scrummy food on offer left right and centre, it’s just a case of knowing where to go and immersing yourselves in some local culture. Here’s our round up of what should be on your Lunar New Year bucket list, whether you’re a Red Dot newbie or a seasoned expat. We’ll be adding to this handy guide as CNY draws closer, so watch this space.
Singapore’s Chingay Parade
For spectacular sights and sounds that are 100 percent Singaporean, head to the Chingay Parade. The grand procession celebrates the island’s multicultural identity with creatively illuminated floats, colourfully costumed ethnic dancers, acrobatic acts and more. This year’s aims to be the most awe-inspiring show yet, with 11,000 performers and special highlights for Singapore’s 50th birthday.
27-28 February, 8pm onwards. Promenade and F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard. $28.50-$60, tickets available at Sistic.
This annual festival showcases spectacular contemporary and traditional works from Chinese artists all over the globe, from dance and opera to theatre and music. This year’s highlights include Rice, a powerful dance performance about Taiwan’s farming community, and Savage Land, a heartbreaking opera about the conflicts in China’s Northeastern countryside during the 20th century.
20 February-1 March, various times. The Esplanade. For more information and ticketing details, head here.
STREET FOOD, MARKETS AND ACTIVITIES
Singapore River Hong Bao Carnival
Immerse yourself in Chinese culture at this vibrant riverside festival (Hong Bao means ‘red packet’). Amid colourful lanterns of mythical Chinese creatures, visitors can hop on amusement park rides, catch traditional opera performances and more. You’ll find plenty of cheap local delicacies as well as other Asian fare, from your favourite chicken rice to xiao long bao dumplings.
17-28 February, Marina Bay Floating Platform, 20 Raffles Avenue. Free.
Festive Street Bazaar
You’ll be greeted by lanterns, decorations, peanut cookies, pineapple tarts, dried sweet meats, potted plants and more on Chinatown’s bustling streets – your one-stop shop for all things Chinese New Year. Expect a healthy spattering of lion and dragon dancers, as well as a lot of traditional music.
30 January-1 March, 6-10pm daily. Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street.
Chinatown Light-Up Ceremony
Be dazzled at this year’s official light-up and opening ceremony of Chinatown’s Chinese New Year celebrations, which ushers in the Year of the Goat. Expect jaw-dropping visual effects, colourful live performances by Singapore and China’s performing troupes and lots of high-tech surprises. The festive lights and decor will remain until 19 March.
31 January, 6-10pm. New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street.
Nightly Festive Performances
During the bustling period of preparations for Chinese New Year, drop by Kreta Ayer Square for lively cultural performances, festive ditties and vibrant dances by local entertainers and troupes from China.
31 January-18 February, 8-10.30pm. Kreta Ayer Square, 30A Kreta Ayer Road.
Chinese New Year Countdown Party
Looking for a party? See in the Year of the Goat at Chinatown’s official countdown, featuring splendid live performances, festive songs, entertaining skits, firecrackers, games and a joyous fireworks display. The booming affair will be hosted by local artistes from Mediacorp.
18 February, 9.30pm. New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street.
Watch this space as more dining deals come in ahead of CNY.
Parkroyal on Kitchener Road
181 Kitchener Road | 6428 3160
The hotel’s all-day dining joint Spice Brasserie rolls out a Lunar New Year buffet (Lunch $48 for adults, $23 for children; dinner $78 for adults, $38 for children) from 12 to 28 February. Their dinner time feast includes the Five Fortunes set, a platter of lobster in superior stock, abalone glutinous rice with liver sausage, pumpkin puree with almond flakes, prosperity pot, and crispy baby crab yu sheng with passionfruit and plum sauce. Each of the exotic delicacies within signifies generous blessings for the new year.
The Regent Singapore
1 Cuscaden Road | 6725 3288
Savour traditional Cantonese dishes at Summer Palace, The Regent’s award-winning Chinese restaurant. To suit all budgets during the season, they’ve created 10 different menus that range from $988 to $3,988 for a group of four, six or 10 people. Exquisite festive dishes can also be ordered a la carte, including the stewed pork leg with sea cucumber and sea moss ($98) and Peach Blossoms in the Snow ($150) – silky scrambled egg whites and juicy lobster topped with crisp conpoy (dried scallop). Chinese New Year dining is on from 7 February to 5 March.
Pan Pacific Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard | 6336 8111
Three of the hotel’s restaurants will be unveiling Chinese New Year menus to tide over merry-makers. On top of its usual Cantonese fare, Hai Tien Lo will offer six different yu sheng platters ($38-$228), brimming with lavish ingredients like Alaskan crab and Hokkaido scallop. Guest can also choose between two sizes of pen cai (prosperity pot, from $368), which will feed either six or 10. Over at Japanese restaurant Keyaki, yu sheng ($118 or $298) gets a snazzy twist with fresh salmon, yellowtail and tuna sashimi, as well as a generous sprinkling of gold and silver flakes. Buffet house Edge offers sumptuous dinner menus with dishes like whole Chinese roast pork with kumquat compote and lotus leaf glutinous rice. Their spread will be available from 18-20 February at $118, $178 with alcohol and $59 for children, as well as from 21 February-5 March at $88, $48 for children.
Got Chinese New Year on the brain? Check out astrology predictions for the Year of the Wood Goat here, as well as our do’s and don’ts guide for Chinese New Year.