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. (Psst…. for a guide to all the Lunar New Year happenings in 2015, head here.)
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.
Singapore’s Chingay Parade
F1 Pit Building (7-8 February)
Looking for a party? Head to the Chingay parade – Asia’s biggest street party, featuring floating dragons, dancing, acrobatics, batik art, over 8,000 performers in traditional costume and much more. Grab tickets here from Sistic
Esplanade (6-16 February)
This annual festival showcases contemporary and traditional arts including lots of dance, opera, theatre and music from Chinese artists all over the globe.
STREET FOOD, MARKETS AND ACTIVITIES
Singapore River Hong Bao Carnival
Marina Bay Floating Platform (29 January – 8 February)You’ll find plenty of cheap local delicacies as well as other Asian fare at this carnival (Hong Bao means ‘red packet’), which is set up annually at The Float at Marina Bay. It’s been running for 28 years and this is the first year that it will be open over two consecutive weekends. From your favourite chicken rice to xiao long bao dumplings, Chinese pancake rolls, spicy fish balls and corn on the cob, you’ll be sure to find plenty of grub to satisfy your taste buds while you take in the nightly cultural performances and Chinese artwork on show.
Festive Street Bazaar
Pagoda Street, Chinatown (10-30 January, 6:00-22:30 daily, 6:00-13:00 Chinese New Year’s Eve)You’ll be greeted by lanterns, decorations, peanut cookies, pineapple tarts, potted plants and more on this bustling street – 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.
Horseback Riding at Changi Point
Bring in the year of the horse in style…on horseback. Changi City Point are offering pony rides at the Open Plaza to everyone who spends $38 that day. Between the 6-9 of February, you’ll also be able to catch the ‘God of Fortune’ walking around, bestowing luck on you and your loved ones. Look out for plenty of performances, craft workshops and more activities to keep the family entertained.
The Regent Singapore – Budget: $$$ (ideal for large parties)
With ten menus of Cantonese cuisine on offer, you’ll be spoilt for choice at The Regent. Dishes include stewed pork leg, barbecued truffle suckling pic, prosperity truffled duck with fresh fruit yu sheng as well as numerous vegetarian options. Menus range from $888++ to $2,988 for 10 people. Menus are also available for 4 to 6 people.
Au Chocolat – Budget: $ (ideal for couples of small families)
At $38++ for two courses and $48++ for three courses, the Chinese New Year set menu at Au Chocolat won’t break the bank. On offer are a selection of east-meets-west dishes, including Nicoise Salad ‘Yu Sheng’ style, creamy drunken prawn pasta or peking style confit of duck leg.
Grub – Budget: $ (ideal for families)
With a lovely, green setting in Bishan Park, these guys believe in awesome food in a fun environment. Grub is laying on a CNY dishes, with a Western twist, great for first-timers. The affordable set menu includes char siew baby back ribs, Hokkaido scallops and maple-butter pineapple tart for $35.
Pan Pacific Singapore
These guys have special menus at all three of their restaurants
Edge – Budget: $$
Highlights include suckling pig, alaskan king crab, French oysters and fois gras. $158 per adult (inclusive of free flow G.H. Mumm champagne, selected wines, cocktails and beers) and $79 per child (for 6-12 years. Inclusive of soft drinks and juices).
Hai Tien Lo – Budget: $$
More traditional Cantonese fare, including traditional stewed chicken with eight treasures and lotus seed, Norwegian salmon, abalone and whole Bejing duck with homemade Chinese pancakes. Set lunch and dinner available from $108 per person (minimum of two diners). $988 per table of 10 diners. 7 course vegetarian menu available from $88 per person. The restaurant also has a selection of private dining rooms that fit up to 20 guests for cosy intimate dining ($1600 minimum food spend).
Keyaki – Budget: $$
Japanese food with a spring festival spin. Specialities include Wafu (S$98) or ‘Premium’ wafu lo hei ($288) – mixed sashimi with shredded vegetables in or, for the premium, add lobster, salmon roe and sea urchin.
Got Chinese New Year on the brain? Check out astrology predictions for the Year of the Wood Horse here, as well as our do’s and don’ts guide for Chinese New Year.