Chinese New Year in Singapore: An Islandwide Celebration

2017's Year of the Rooster Celebration in Singapore Lasts Seven Weeks

Chingay performer, Chinese New Year in Singapore
••• Chingay performer, Chinese New Year in Singapore. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board

For a full seven weeks, the majority ethnic Chinese community in Singapore throws their biggest party of the year, bar none. Chinese New Year represents a time for family togetherness, prayers for prosperity, and pulling out all the stops for dining, shopping and partying, mainly focused around the Chinatown ethnic enclave.

For 2017, the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore's Chinatown begin on January 6 and continue till February 25, marking the Year of the Rooster in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.

Chinese New Year in Singapore's Chinatown

Chinese New Year in Singapore kicks off in the ethnic enclave of Chinatown, particularly along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. The Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations transform the island-state's traditional Chinese enclave into a riot of lanterns, street stalls, and performing arts, with celebrations extending as far as Marina Bay.

Look forward to a few key events of the season: a Street Light-Up, a Festive Street Bazaar, Nightly Stage Shows, and the Singapore River Hong Bao.

Chinese New Year Street Light-Up in Chinatown. Key streets in Chinatown - Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road, and South Bridge Road - will be lit up with traditional Chinese lanterns and colorful street lights while street performers and acrobats (not to mention the inevitable lion dancers) liven up the lanes.

For the sixth year running, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) participated in the design and construction of the Chinese New Year Light-Up.

For 2017, the SUTD team took inspiration from a rooster's life from a hatchling to its mighty prime. Various lantern set pieces illustrate the rooster's learning of life values as it grows up, concluding in the 40-foot-high giant rooster lantern at the corner of Eu Tong Sen Street and Upper Cross Street.

South Bridge Road's light-up consists of repeating patterns of peach blossom flowers, trees and red lanterns, symbolizing wealth, prosperity and peace. All in all, the light-ups make up a record 5,500 handcrafted lanterns, the most ever recorded for Chinese New Year.

On Garden Bridge, an electronic “Huat Greetings Wall” screens greetings and shout-outs sent in by the public from the Chinatown Festivals site. Log in here to send your own: chinatownfestivals.sg/huatgreetings!

The lightup will be in place from January 7 to February 25, 2017.

Chinese New Year Countdown. Ring in the Chinese New Year in Singapore's Chinatown, as you join the locals and local celebrities alike with firecrackers and fireworks going off all through the evening.

For 2017, the Chinatown Chinese New Year's Eve Countdown Party takes place on the evening of January 27, along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, from 9:30pm to 12:30am.

Nightly Stage Shows. Local and overseas cultural performance troupes take the stage, exhibiting traditional Chinese performances like martial arts, lion dances, and Chinese opera. Come to the Kreta Ayer Square, next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, to see acts unfolding every evening.

For 2017, the stage shows run from January 7 to 27, beginning at 8pm and ending at 10:30pm.

Singapore Chinatown festivities for the Chinese New Year are headed by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee (KA-KS CCC), following the theme "Rise to Good Fortune and Prosperity". More information on their official site: chinatownfestivals.sg.

Bazaar Shopping & Dining During Chinese New Year

Singapore's Chinatown will host more than four hundred stalls selling traditional foods, flowers, Chinese handicrafts, and customary New Year decorations. Have a go at barbecued sweetmeats, waxed duck, and cookies served fresh on the street, or pick up some traditional Chinese New Year decorations to remember the day by.

For the first time this year, the Festive Bazaar caters explicitly to twenty-and-under set, with YouthEATS @ Temple Street: provisioned by a dozen food entrepreneurs hawking unique mashups like braised duck shabu burger.

All told, the Lunar New Year bazaar stalls line Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street within Chinatown, from 6pm to 10:30pm, extended to 1am on Chinese New Year. For the 2017 celebrations, the Bazaar runs from January 6 to 27.

For two days only, YHFLEA: Come Lepark edition brings the flea market experience to Singapore's Chinese New Year celebrations. Head to the rooftop of People's Park Complex and get more than great views of the Chinatown Light-Up: find inexpensive handmade ornaments, funky clothes and other gewgaws provided by over 100 independent local brands. YHFLEA is on between January 14 and 15 only.

The Bazaar is just the cherry on top of the shopping sundae in the island's Chinese ethnic enclave. Find out more about Shopping in Chinatown, Singapore.

For other Chinese New Year parties beyond Chinatown, proceed to the next page.

While Singapore's ethnic enclave of Chinatown represents ground zero for the country's massive Chinese New Year festivities, the rest of the island is loath to be left out of the party.

Local restaurants offer special packages for family dinners (including the traditional yu sheng salad), for starters. And in two particular hotspots, the Chinese New Year party goes on far beyond Chinatown's borders.

Singapore River Hong Bao Carnival

On the Singapore riverside, The Float @ Marina Bay hosts the yearly Singapore River Hong Bao carnival. (To find out what else Marina Bay is good for, read our list of Top 10 Things to Do in Marina Bay, Singapore.)

The "Hong Bao" derives its name from the traditional red packets of money given by older Chinese to unmarried younger relatives during Chinese New Year.

Nightly cultural performances and traditional Chinese artwork can be enjoyed outdoors, and giant lanterns fashioned after popular Singapore landmarks loom larger-than-life.

Have your name written in Chinese calligraphy. Get a Chinese zodiac reading of your birth date. Explore the River Hongbao's food street (more on Singapore's cuisine here: Ten Dishes You Should Try in Singapore).

Or just watch the nightly Main Stage Shows unfolding on the Float, featuring local performers and foreign talents. If you want to get into the swing of Chinese culture for the duration of the festival, the Hong Bao is the place to be.

For 2017, the River Hong Bao takes place between January 26 and February 4. Admission is free. Visit the River Hong Bao - Official Site.

Singapore's Chingay Parade

"Chingay", in its Hokkien equivalent, translates to "costume and masquerade". The normally staid Singaporeans take Chingay to its more colorful and musical extreme every year during the Chingay Parade, a two-night street party and parade that marks the climax of the Chinese New Year celebration.

The parade is now proudly international, growing from its purely Chinese traditional roots to embrace more than 150 local organizations and 11,000 performers, with international performing groups from China, Denmark, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

The Chingay parade route takes place in front of the Formula One Pit Building against the backdrop of the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay. Parade participants will ride on floats, or walk in the procession, offering a riot of color and noise that few other Singapore festivals can equal.

For 2017, Chingay takes place across two parade days, on February 10 and 11 at 8pm, with a special encore on February 12 at New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street in Chinatown from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

Chingay tickets can be purchased from SISTIC (sistic.com.sg). Tickets are also available at Singapore Visitors Centre at Orchard Road and Singapore Pools Outlets. For more information, visit the Chingay website: chingay.org.sg.

For a look at its history and cultural context, check out our article about the Chingay Parade in Singapore.

Getting There, and Accommodations in Chinatown

Transportation: The Chinatown-centered festivities can be very easily reached by MRT - simply alight at Chinatown MRT Station (NE4/DT19).

To get to Chingay and the River Hong Bao, you can go to Marina Bay by riding the MRT and disembarking at the Esplanade MRT Station (CC3), Promenade MRT Station (CC4/DT15), Raffles Place MRT Station (NS26/EW14), or City Hall MRT Station (NS25/EW13).

For more on Singapore's convenient commuter system, read our article on Riding Singapore's MRT and Buses with the EZ-Link Card, or check out our overview of transportation in Singapore.

Accommodations: For accommodations closest to the Chinese New Year festivities, you can consult our lists of hotels in the Chinese ethnic enclave: Chinatown, Singapore Hotels and Budget Hotels in Chinatown, Singapore; or check out accommodations closer to Chingay with our lists of Marina Bay, Singapore Hotels and Riverside Singapore Hotels.

Singapore Touristline

For more information, you can reach the Singapore Tourism Board's Touristline at 1800 736 2000 (toll-free in Singapore) or +65 6736 2000 (from overseas).

The line is open from 8am to 7pm daily, Singapore Time. Visit the Singapore Tourism Board website here: www.yoursingapore.com