Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas and New Year in the Singapore City


December is a great time mainly because of two major festive events. There's Christmas on the 25th of December and New Year on 1st of January (fun starts on the 31st of December). December can also be considered the best month of the year simply because of the wide range of Christmas trees, decorations, events, open houses and New Year's preparations. On the last two weeks of December, I decided to roam Singapore's city to check out all the wonderful festivities that don't cost a lot of money. Here's what I found.

Museum Open Houses


Without fail, on every public holiday, museums operated by the National Heritage Board of Singapore, Singapore's governing body which keeps track of Singapore's history and heritage, will have allow free entry. Visitors can wander around the exhibitions for free and check out the various permanent and temporary installations. Usually, it costs $10 to enter the museums (except Singaporeans and PRs).



I visited the Singapore Art Museum on Christmas Day to check out the wide array of temporary art exhibits. There was one exhibit called the Signature Art Prize 2014 where nominees had their artworks on display. Visitors can then have the chance to vote for their favourite art piece on a computer on the first level of the museum.


Some art installations that I think were rather interesting include one that lets visitors take home packets of honey, a video showing a Japanese girl in Thailand making a famous egg dessert while telling her life story and a moving sculpture which looks like a robotic beached whale.

Christmas Carolling at the Marina Bay Sands



Marina Bay Sands also had some festivities to celebrate Christmas. For the month of December leading up to Christmas day, there was a group of young people from a local choir group gathered to sing popular Christmas tunes (AKA Christmas carolling) at the Marina Bay Sands' Ice Skating Rink. Christmas carolling is a very popular tradition in countries like the US where choir groups from local churches visit houses and sing some tunes right in front of residents' doorsteps.


Apart from the carolling, there was also a local jazz band called LIQUID with a local singer, Karen Xavier, who performed Christmas songs for free at the same place. Unfortunately I was unable to watch the performance as I was late. The band has been performing at the Marina Bay Sands for a few years already so they can somewhat be considered Marina Bay Sands' signature house band. I did attend one or two of their previous free concerts and all I can say is that they were really amazing and very talented indeed. Music is definitely a great way to spend the festive season.

Christmas ChariTrees at the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade


Right at the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, there were a bunch of smaller Christmas trees lined up along the promenade with each tree lighting up and blinking in sync with each other. It's rather cool and the busker performing at the promenade makes the atmosphere at the waterfront more relaxing and vibrant indeed.


It seems that the trees are there for a good cause. The trees are the result of a collaboration between Community Chest, a local charity organisation and Singapore's URA or the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Basically, each organisation can purchase a tree and decorate the tree with their own choice. All the proceeds will then be donated to the Community Chest for people in need during the Christmas season. It's definitely a great way to spread the cheer and give back to the community at the same time. Plus, the trees were beautiful.

Garden Rhapsody at the SuperTree Grove


At Gardens By The Bay for the whole month of December at night, a light show performance called Garden Rhapsody where the SuperTrees (tall concrete structures made to resemble trees) will be lit up at night and will somewhat 'animate' in sync with the music currently playing.


Garden Rhapsody actually happens every day but in December, there's a special Christmas edition where they will play popular Christmas songs like Last Christmas and All I Want For Christmas Is You along with traditional ones like Jingle Bells. It was quite a fun and unique experience to see all the concrete tree structures light up and have music playing together in sync.

It's Snowing at Gardens By The Bay with Christmas Wonderland


Also located at the SuperTree Grove was this thing called Christmas Wonderland. It's located at a small grass patch with beautiful bright light structures surrounding it and for every 45 minutes or so, foam comes out of machines to create a "snowing" effect.


Christmas Wonderland is really a unique experience as Singapore is a country that doesn't have snow. Although it's not real snow but foam instead, everyone can be seen having fun. Everyone tried to grab the 'snow' foam with their foams while taking loads of pictures and selfies. It's truly like having snow in Singapore and words alone can't describe how great the experience is.

Orchard Road Christmas Light Up


Orchard Road is also participating in the holiday spirit with its annual Orchard Road Christmas Light Up. The streets will be dressed with tons of colourful bright suspending lights to welcome the festive season. Malls all around Orchard Road will also have their own Christmas experience as well for the visitors visiting Orchard.


December is also the best time to visit the Orchard area as everyone will be doing their part to join in the celebrations as well. If you want to check out all the full details of the Orchard Road Christmas Light Up. here's an article that I've recently written a few days ago about this wonderful festivity.

Free Concerts at the Esplanade Theatres


Esplanade Theatres held free concerts at the Outdoor Theatre and the Esplanade Concourse as part of their annual Celebrate December music festival to celebrate the last month of the year. Performances were a mix of local and international acts. Some performances that I've watched include local artistes Magdelene Wong and Karen Chou playing on a harp while another was by local chef and singer, Irene Jansen with her musical and cooking show mix called The Singing Chef.


There was also this thing called Bell Charms which allows visitors to pen wishes down on a piece of silver plastic suspending from poles located around the promenade of the Esplanade. It's a yearly tradition at the Esplanade and everyone loves writing wishes down. For more details on Celebrate December, look out for a post on that soon as they deserve their own post because the performances were really that good.

3D Light Show at the Fullerton Hotel to commemorate SG50


As Singapore is commemorating 50 years of independence in 2015 (AKA SG50), the SG50 committee kickstarted the festivities with a 3D projection mapping show. The show was shown every day from 27 December to 31st December at 8.15pm for 2 minutes and will be shown again every 30 minutes. On the last day, the show will then be extended at 11.55pm followed by a countdown show and a 10 minute firework display.


Speaking of a countdown show, Singapore's official countdown show, 'Celebrate SG50' happened live at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on New Years Eve featuring tons of local acts, local and international performances and partying. Plenty of other countdown shows also happening around the Marina Bay area as well to ring in the New Year.

Lastly, when you visit the Marina Bay area, you can view floating plastic balls on the water with the number '50' displayed. All those floating plastic balls contained New Year wishes written by members of the public. The floating plastic balls made the Marina Bay area even more vibrant.

Conclusion

December is truly a great month because of the events, festivities and decorations to welcome Christmas and New Year. A lot of event and festivities were free so there's no excuse for you to not go out and have some fun with your friends and family during this wonderful festive season.

As the New Year is here, we should reflect on the good things we have done and achievements we have achieved in 2014. With the New Year, there's plenty of time for you to reach for your goals and do the things that you've always wanted to do. Here's to another great year in 2015 and I would like to wish each and everyone of you reading this post a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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