Gardens by the Bay's Christmas Wonderland to charge for admission this year

The Spalliera at this year's Christmas Wonderland is the largest Luminarie sculpture.
The Spalliera at this year's Christmas Wonderland is the largest Luminarie sculpture.PHOTO: CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND

SINGAPORE - Gardens by the Bay's popular Christmas Wonderland returns for a third edition this year - it will be bigger and costlier for visitors.

This year will be the first time the event, which runs from Dec 2 to Jan 1, is charging visitors admission fees.

The fee is $4 a person in the first week, $6 the following week, and $8 for the rest of the period. Up to three children under 0.9m in height can enter for free with each paying adult.

Ms Sarah Martin, director of Blue Sky Events, the fair's organiser, says the admission fee is being implemented to manage the huge crowds expected.

Last year's edition received 1.6 million visitors, up from the 900,000 in 2014.

"It was a pity that a lot of people last year couldn't do a lot of the activities because it was really crowded and that's not what we want for Christmas Wonderland. Hence, the idea of capacity control," Ms Martin says.

At its peak last year, more than 110,000 people visited the fair on Christmas Day.

This year, the number of visitors will be limited to 30,000 daily, adds Ms Martin.

Visitors must buy their tickets online before going to the event. There will be no sales on-site.

There will be more areas for visitors to explore as the festival grounds will be expanded to 57,000 sq m from last year's 35,000 sq m.

Like in previous editions, the festival grounds will covered in handmade Italian luminarie, or sculptures of light. This year's design will be based on 17th and 18th century Baroque architecture.

New activities include a magical forest packed with more than 100 Christmas trees that are up to 4m tall. Visitors can take a photo with Santa at Santa's cottage, too.

Another new attraction is the Hi-5 Funtastic House, where young children can bounce around in a bouncy castle or sing along with their favourite Hi-5 songs. Each 45-minute session there costs $24 for a child and an accompanying adult.

The popular ice palace will be upsized this year too. Along with the ice skating rink, the snow playground returns, twice as big as before. Look out for a new attraction: a 25m-long ice slide. These activities are ticketed and prices start from $4.

There will be a European-style festival market, carnival rides and music performances too.

Ticket sales for Christmas Wonderland are available at www.christmaswonderland.sg.

gurveenk@sph.com.sg