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What to do this Chinese New Year

Noticed all the lanterns and bright lights along Chinatown? It’s that time of the year again! Chinese New Year is in full force across the island. Find out where to go to experience a truly authentic and fun Chinese New Year in Singapore.

Chinatown CNY light-up
Drive or stroll through Chinatown and admire the festive lights


Take a visit to Chinatown and admire the annual light-up with beautiful lanterns of roosters, hens and chicks. Feast your eyes on the spectacular lights and decorations as often as you wish – they will be up until as late as 25 February.

Soak in the festive atmosphere and take a stroll through the streets of Chinatown. Explore the festive street bazaar which sells everything from New Year goodies to potted plants for your home. It’ll be worth the jostling through those crowds!

Chinese New Year Istana Open House
Feel the energy in the air at the annual Chingay Parade

Chingay Parade

Oh and we sure didn’t forget the annual Chingay Parade at the F1 Pit Building. As the largest street performance and float parade in Asia, you’ve got to see it! Feel the excitement and energy with captivating performances by local and international acts as well as towering floats. Be wowed by spectacular special effects, pyrotechnics, vibrant dance moves and a stunning fireworks display.


Chinese New Year Istana Open House
Be entertained by energetic drum performances

Chinese Festival of Arts

Witness more great performances at Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts at the Esplanade. Get a taste of different forms of Chinese artistic expression, featuring theatre, dance, music, visual arts and more. Find out more about the exciting line-up of free and ticketed programmes now.


Dahlia Dreams at Gardens by the Bay
Be greeted with yellow, orange and red Dahlias and Begonias

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay will also be rolling out special Chinese New Year celebrations with Spring Surprise 2017. Create Chinese crafts with the family and enjoy festive performances including the first LED phoenix from 30 January to 12 February. Also, don’t miss Dahlia Dreams, the first floral display for 2017. Take a stroll through the Chinese garden inspired landscape, complete with a three-tier pagoda, a pavilion, moon gates and even sculptures of chickens.

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands is ushering in the New Year with a line-up of culinary specials, retail indulgence and festive entertainment across the resort. Enjoy the canopies of cherry blossoms and lanterns cascading over the walkways at The Shoppes. Enjoy daily complimentary parking from now until 12 February.

Taste the Chinese New menus at one of their celebrity chefs restaurants, including Adrift by David Myers, db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud, Osteria Mozza by Mario Batali, Sky on 57 by Justin Quek, and Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. Drop by the newly opened IPPUDO and Canton Paradise for your favourite dishes.

Catch the annual lion dance performance at Marina Bay Sands’ Tower 1 Hotel Lobby at an auspicious time of 10.38am on 30 January. Also, don’t miss the one-night only production of Shanghai Tango on 19 January.

For the kids

Looking for something for your active little ones? PlayLAH! Let’s Celebrate Chinese New Year 2017 will be just the thing. Keep them busy with bumper cars, bouncy castles and even mini paddle boats! Take part in DIY craft workshops where you can design your own Chinese fan and even Chinese New Year decorations for your home. Not only will you and your kids have fun but also learn more about Chinese New Year (cultural knowledge tick!).

Inside Istana

Ever wondered how the Istana looks like? This is your chance. On 29 January, the Istana will be opened to the public. For just $2, explore its sprawling grounds and even get to see the function rooms where Singaporean leaders have their meetings!


Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with CÉ LA VI’s 8-course Lunar New Year Menu ($168++) from 23 January to 5 February. Have the chance to taste their rendition of the traditional yusheng (raw fish salad). Also, be sure to catch the lion dance on 28 and 29 January at 7.30pm.

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 is believed to bring good luck. Pineapple is referred to as “ong lai” in Cantonese and means prosperity.
Pineapple tarts
Savour buttery pineapples tarts this Chinese New Year


  • 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.
Love letters
Delight the kids with these crisp wafers
  • 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.

10 things you may not know about Chinese New Year

  • Spring cleaning is typically done before Chinese New Year. It is believed to drive away bad luck and to get ready for a fresh start.
  • Before Chinese New Year, everyone is busy buying new clothes. It is believed that wearing new clothes represent a new start and fresh hope for the New Year.
  • On the eve of Chinese New Year, families gather for a meal together known as the reunion dinner, often this involves as many as four to five generations (somewhat like Thanksgiving dinner).
Steamboat meal
Enjoy some warm broth and delicious meats
  • Meals during the New Year period are often steamboat. It is a hotpot meal that includes almost anything, like meat, seafood, vegetables and noodles. The family will sit around together and serve one another.
  • During Chinese New Year, the Chinese visit family (typically those who are older) and friends to pass on good wishes and good fortune for the New Year.
Oranges and red packets
Remember to pack oranges and red packets when you go visiting!
  • When visiting homes, a pair of mandarin oranges will be exchanged. It can be considered rude to arrive empty handed.
  • Hong Paos (directly translated from Mandarin as red packets) will also be exchanged. The colour red symbolises happiness and good luck. Giving of red packets is not only restricted to Chinese New Year but are also given during special occasions like weddings and birthdays. Kids and unmarried adults will receive them. Be sure to accept them with two hands (It’ll be impolite to take them with just one!) Find out how much you should be giving right now.
  • Lion dance performances are common during the Chinese New Year period. The Chinese believe that the lion is an auspicious animal and hence do it for good luck. Expect loud beating drums, gongs and clashing cymbals to accompany it. It is also traditionally believed that it will drive away evil spirits.
Yusheng during Chinese New Year
Toss the yusheng as high as you can
  • The Chinese New Year holiday will not be complete without yusheng (raw fish salad). It is especially popular among the Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia. Everyone will stand up and toss the ingredients as high as they can and shout auspicious phrases such as good health and fortune. It is believed that the higher the tosses, the greater growth in fortune.
  • Chinese New Year is a happy time, but singles (above typical marriageable age) can feel overwhelmed by questions from well-meaning relatives about their (lack of a) love life.

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