Noticed all the lanterns and bright lights across Chinatown? It’s that time of the year again! Chinese New Year is in full force in Singapore, so we’ve listed some great events, handy tips and yummy snacks for you to experience a truly authentic, fun and prosperous start to the Year of the Dog.
Don’t miss a visit to Chinatown to admire the annual festive street light-up. From now until 16 March, the streets will be filled with 2,188 stunning handcrafted lanterns featuring the zodiac animal of the year, the dog, plus flowers and more. Boasting a mix of the contemporary and traditional, it will – as always – be a sight to behold.
After checking out the lights, hit the bustling festive street bazaar, which is filled with store after store selling everything from New Year goodies and delicacies to clothing and décor for the season. The bazaar sprawls across Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street, daily from 6pm to 10.30pm from now until 15 February. While you’re there, head to Kreta Ayer Square to catch nightly traditional performances. Expect lively cultural performances by local and international groups.
If you’re free on the night of the 15th, join the crowd to usher in the Year of the Dog at the Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party. There’ll be festive songs, performances and games to entertain you all night long, and the party will end with firecrackers and a fireworks display.
Of course, we can’t forget the annual Chingay Parade at the F1 Pit Building. This is the largest street performance and float parade in Asia, so it’s one you really should make an effort to see! The parade will feature spectacular special effects, lasers, pyrotechnics, colourful costumes, vibrant dance moves and a stunning fireworks display. Feel the excitement and energy as you witness captivating multi-cultural performances by local and international acts, and get up close to towering floats. Chingay will be held on 23 and 24 February from 8pm to 9.30pm. Get your tickets now.
Asian Civilisations Museum
Head to Saturdays@ACM – Golden Dog on 24 February. Take part in fun interactive activities, enjoy performances, crafts and more. Catch a lively lion dance performance and increase your knowledge about zodiac animals.
Resorts World Sentosa
From 9 to 28 February, enjoy Chinese traditional performances with a twist, educational trails and more at Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A. Aquarium. Fun activities and performances include an underwater dragon dance and Mel’s Dinettes dancing and singing to popular 50s, 60s hits and Lunar New Year tunes. Universal Studios Singapore hours are extended till 8pm and 9pm on selected nights for guests to soak in the festivities.
Join in the fun and festivities at the mall with a lion dance performance on 25 February. It’ll be held at the mall’s entrance at 11am.
The Istana is only rarely accessible to the public, so this is your chance to see this Singapore landmark. On 17 February, the doors will be opened, and for just a few dollars ($2 for Singaporeans and PRs, $4 for others), you can explore the expansive grounds, enjoy performances and tour the function rooms where Singaporean leaders have their meetings. Opening hours are typically from 8.30am to 6pm.
Gardens by the Bay
The Dahlia Dreams Floral Display returns to the city’s iconic garden this festive season. From now until 14 March, visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Chinese imperial gardens. Feast your eyes on beautiful dahlias, camellias, lagerstroemias and bromeliads in a courtyard and be greeted by Chinese “Foo Dogs” (or guardian lions). To celebrate the Year of the Dog, you’ll also spot intricate sculptures and topiaries in canine form. Also, you might just catch the roving God of Fortune as he moves about the Flower Dome (on selected days).
From 14 to 25 February, celebrate the New Year at Spring Surprise 2018. Enjoy festive performances and fun for the whole family, including ultraviolet (UV) light performances by the UV Lotus Dragon and UV Northern Lions. It will be held at the Supertree Grove, Flower Dome and The Canopy.
City Square Mall
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol. From now until 25 February, the cute pups will be performing at City Square Mall. Enjoy interactive games, carnival rides, photo stations and even a Lion Dance performance (on 23 February).
Snuggle up on the couch this Chinese New Year weekend and enjoy a variety of great shows by BBC.
- Set in the heart of Beijing, learn more about New Year festivities with Chinese New Year – The Biggest celebration On Earth on BBC Earth (15 February, 8pm to 10.45pm).
- What better way to celebrate the Year of the Dog by watching shows about man’s best friend? Here are some fun picks: The Secret Life of Dogs (16 February, 5.15pm to 8pm, BBC Earth), The Wonderful World of Puppies and Kittens (on BBC Player) and The Wonderful World of Puppies (16 February, 8pm to 9pm, BBC Earth).
- Got a little one at home? Catch Hey Duggee on CBeebies and join Duggee the adorable dog for some fun and laughter. (16 to 18 February, 11am to 1pm and 6.40pm to 8.40pm)
Dos and Don’ts during the Lunar New Year
Tips from Your Fortune in 2018 by Feng Shui Master Clarice Chan. The book is available at all Kinokuniya and MPH bookstores.
- Make sure you say “Gong Xi Fa Cai” to wish friends and colleagues a prosperous New Year.
- Prepare food before New Year’s Day so that all sharp instruments such as knives and scissors can be put away. This avoids cutting the luck out of the New Year or severing any ties with family and friends.
- Refrain from using negative expressions or talking ill of others; it’s a time to promote joy and abundance.
- Don’t wash your hair on the first day of the Lunar New Year as hair has the same sound as the word fatt or fa, which means prosperity. Therefore, washing your hair will encourage any wealth and prosperity to be washed away. Clothes should not be washed on this day for the same reason.
- Colours are very important to the Chinese. Typically, only bright colours are considered auspicious, especially red and gold. White and black are generally associated with sad occasions such as funerals or illness, and are therefore considered unlucky or inauspicious.
- Gifts are not common except for Mandarin oranges, which are mandatory to offer to hosts when visiting during the first 15 days of the Lunar New Year.
- Unmarried adults and children receive “Hong Baos” or “Ang Pows” from married family members and friends. These red envelopes are filled with crisp new bills totalling an even amount of money. Odd numbers are not given during the celebrations.
Food and other preparations:
- Always use new Ang Pow packets.
- Always fill your Ang Pows with new banknotes.
- Have plenty of Mandarin oranges available.
- Use a circular candy tray.
- Keep some flowers, especially plum blossoms, peach blossoms and pussy willows. These flowers symbolise happiness and good fortune.
- Wear new clothes and shoes.
- Clean your entire home and get rid of all clutter.
- Put away old brooms and brushes as they are considered to bring bad luck; new brooms and brushes are very important.
- Pay off as many of your debts as possible, if you have any.
- Resolve differences with family members, friends, neighbours and business associates.
10 yummy must-eat snacks
- Bak Kwa (BBQ pork): This dried sweet meat snack is almost a staple during the Chinese New Year season. Coming in thin slices, they are usually made from pork. But stores like Bee Cheng Hiang are now selling those made from chicken.
- Pineapple Tarts: These buttery and crumbly pastries are filled with sweet pineapple and are believed to bring good luck. Pineapple is referred to as “ong lai” in Cantonese and means prosperity.
- Hae Bee Hiam (Spicy shrimp) rolls: These crisp and spicy deep fried rolls are a classic New Year snack and are so addictive – don’t be surprise if you start popping them in every minute!
- Mandarin oranges: Sweet with a tinge of tanginess, these oranges will help quench your thirst after all those Chinese New Year snacks.
- Yusheng: A huge dish piled high with colourful shredded vegetables and topped with raw fish, this is a must-have when celebrating the New Year.
- Nian Gao (Literally meaning “year cake”): This sticky rice cake is a popular and traditional snack, believed to mean the increase in fortune in the year ahead.
- Kueh Kapti (Love Letters): Thin, sweet and crisp, these coconut wafers are a favourite with the kids.
- Melon and lotus seeds: Often served during Chinese New Year, they represent the potential for good things to come.
- Cereal/cornflake cookies: Baked to a crispy golden brown, these crunchy snacks are light and delicious.
- Kueh Bangit (Fragrant cookies): These light and airy cookies melt-in-the-mouth and are made from coconut.