Celebrating the Year of the Monkey in Singapore

Chingay Parade, Singapore

Daniel James

The largest festive date on the Singaporean calendar is undoubtedly its Chinese New Year celebrations and from now and throughout February, the city state comes alive with the colours, smells and tastes of Chinese culture.

And with 2016 heralding the Chinese year of the Monkey, it’s only fair you get up to some monkey business while in town.

Wander Chinatown’s night market

Take the MRT to Chinatown and exit straight into the buzz of the Pagoda St market. During Chinese New Year the market is lined and lighted in a blaze of red and gold, auspicious colours signifying joy, good luck, wealth and balance.

Get into the festive spirit and try some Bak kwa, a salty-sweet pork similar to jerky. Or, if you’re in the mood for something more substantial, try one of the many restaurants offering festive treats from all over China.

The Pagoda St market by night.
The Pagoda St market by night.

Largest street parade in Asia

Billed as Singapore’s answer to Mardi Gras, the annual Chingay Parade (February 19-20) is Asia’s largest street parade. Although aligned with Chinese New Year celebrations, locals from all cultures use the event as an excuse to celebrate everything Singaporean.

This year’s theme, Lights of Legacy – Brighter Singapore, builds on last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations and features Singapore’s future as the main theme. Visitors will see everything from Chinese dragons to multi-ethnic performances and aerial acts culminating in an impressive fireworks display. If you can’t make it to the main event at the Formula 1 Pitt building, hang out along Raffles Avenue or try and jag a place on the Marina Bay Sands’ observation platform for a truly spectacular view.

Sounds, colours and tastes of China

The annual River Hongbao (February 6-14), situated at the Floating [email protected] Bay, is a stunning celebration of Chinese traditional culture. It’s best to go at night as the area is illuminated with huge intricate lanterns handcrafted onsite resembling figures from Chinese myth and legend.

Around the fringes you’ll find a wealth of other activities such as amusement rides and carnival games. For a change of pace, sit down and enjoy the Chinese opera ‘The Monkey King’, or take part in Chinese calligraphy demonstrations. And at the largest outdoor food street in Singapore, don’t forget to sample some of the delicacies on offer, such as Dragon’s Beard Candy or the more modern fried Oreo … it remains to be seen if the latter inclusion will become a tradition in time.

Chinese figures of myth and legend light up Marina Bay.
Chinese figures of myth and legend light up Marina Bay.

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