8 Lunar New Year activities you shouldn’t miss in Singapore

Traditionally, the Lunar New Year is celebrated over 15 days. As the Year of the Rooster starts on 28 January, here’s is a roundup of activities to do and places to visit in Singapore this season.

  1. Visit Chinatown
  2. Get your new year’s blessings at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple [Night of 27 Jan]
  3. River Hong Bao [26 Jan to 4 Feb]
  4. Istana Open House [29 Jan]
  5. Gardens by the Bay [20 Jan to 19 feb]
  6. Huayi Festival [3 to 12 Feb]
  7. Share a dish of yusheng and eat other tidbits
  8. Visit Resorts World Sentosa


Visit Chinatown

singapore cny chinatown

Where else but Chinatown can you enjoy an overload of festivities for the Lunar New Year? Catch locals doing their last-minute shopping for bakkwa (roasted pork) or see the ostentatiously decorated stalls.

Shows are staged nightly at Kreta Ayer Square. There’s a countdown party on 27 Jan from 9.30pm which ends with a display of fireworks and firecrackers at the stroke of midnight.

When: Lunar New Year period (Mid-January to early February 2017)
Where: Chinatown
Free admission


Get your blessings at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple

singapore cny kuan yin tang

On the eve of Lunar New Year, devotees gather at the temple on Waterloo Street. As the clock strikes 12, there is a race to be the first to offer incense to the Goddess of Mercy.

It’s believed that those who offered the first incense of the year would get the most blessings.

When: Eve of Lunar New Year (27 Jan 2017)
Where: 178 Waterloo Street
Free admission


River Hong Bao

singapore cny river hongbao

Now in its 30th year, River Hong Bao features more than 60 lantern displays, fireworks and laser shows display. This year, there’ll be music and performances each night by local and overseas acts. Local heartthrob Nathan Hartono opens the event on 26 Jan.

The “largest outdoor food street in Singapore” will be set up there, with local eats and overseas tidbits such as satay, takoyaji, churros, and more.

When: 26 Jan to 4 Feb 2017 (2pm– 11pm, extended to 1am on 27 Jan)
Where: The Float @ Marina Bay
Free admission


Istana Open House

istana open house

The Istana, the official residence of Singapore’s president, is only open to the public on five selected statutory holidays. It’s open on the second day of the Lunar New Year (29 January 2017), don’t miss this chance.

Besides strolling in the Istana’s expansive grounds, you can watch various performances or go on paid tours of the Istana building or the Nature Guided walk.

When: 29 Jan (8.30am to 6.00pm)
Where: Enter via The Istana main gate at Orchard Road (Next to Plaza Singapura)
Free admission to Istana grounds for Singaporeans and Permenant Residents. S$2 for foreign visitors.


Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts

huayi festival

The 10-day annual cultural festival by The Esplanade Theatre celebrates contemporary Chinese arts. Join the ticketed and free programmes for dance, music, theatre, arts and craft workshops.

One of the most intriguing programmes for the festival is a Cantonese adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Dionysus Contemporary Theatre from Hong Kong which stars Golden Horse award winner Anthony Wong. How do you portray Shakespeare in Cantonese?

If you don’t understand Chinese, you can still enjoy the dance or music performances, such as Wuxia – Theme Songs from Martial Arts Movies and Serials by
Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

When: 3 to 12 Feb
Where: The Esplanade Theatre
Tickets and free programmes available.


Gardens By The Bay’s Dahlia Dreams

dahlia dreams

Take a stroll in the Flower Dome conservatory of the nature park and catch the special floral display Dahlia Dreams. You’ll dahlia and begonias in festive colours yellow, orange and red. You’ll be transported to China as Chinese garden-inspired landscape, which includes a three-tier pagoda, a pavilion, and moon gates.

Join the festive activities such as customising your prosperity egg, learning the art of Chinese calligraphy and meeting the God of Fortune.

When: 20 Jan to 19 Feb
Where: Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay
Admission charges apply: Standard Flower Dome + Cloud Forest (Adult/Senior Citizen)


Share a dish of yusheng and eat other tidbits

yu sheng
A special dish only available during the Lunar New Year is yusheng, a communal raw fish “prosperity salad” served in a large dish. A yusheng can involve up to ten ingredients, such as shredded vegetables, sometimes fruits and nut. You put each ingredient in one by one, saying an auspicious phrase each time.

At the end, you toss the salad with chopsticks. The higher you toss, the better your luck is.

You’ll find yusheng at Chinese restaurants or even in ready-to-eat packages at the supermarket.

During the festive period, food and snacks are also available in abundance. Some of the must-try’s are:

  • Niangao: Sticky glutinous rice cakes
  • Pineapple tarts: Buttery biscuits topped with sweet-sour pineapple jam
  • Love letters: Rolled egg biscuits
  • Bak kwa: Sweet roasted jerky (available in pork or chicken)


Visit Resorts World Sentosa

Lunar New Year at Resorts World Sentosa 2017
For the Year of the Rooster, we’ve got a bunch of programmes lined up at RWS. Here’s an itinerary if you’re planning to spend a full day here.

Do you have a favourite Lunar New Year activity? Let us know in the comments.


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