Chingay through the years: From streetside procession to massive extravaganza

SINGAPORE - This year's upcoming Chingay parade, an annual street procession to mark Chinese New Year, looks set to be the best one yet.

Not only will it celebrate Singapore's golden jubilee, but it will also have the highest number of international performers in the history of the parade and the biggest number of volunteers.

The first ever Chingay parade in Singapore took place in 1973 from Jalan Besar to Outram Park. The parade, with its signature floats and colourful performers, became muti-cultural in 1977 when Malay and Indian groups joined the procession.

It has since grown into a major celebration, claiming to be the largest street performance and float parade in Asia.

Recent parades have included thousands of performers and volunteers, stunning fireworks and massive and elaborate floats that showcase the country's unique multicultural personality.

Here are some highlights from Chingay parades through the years.


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Thousands of people thronged the streets to watch the first Chingay parade held in Singapore on Feb 4, 1973. Over 2000 performers took part in the parade, including stilt-walkers, jugglers and comic acrobats.

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In 1987, singers from Tokyo, sponsored by The Straits Times, participated in the procession. They were the first international act to join the parade which has now come to include multiple foreign performances.

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The 25th Chingay parade in 1997 was a one-and-half hour celebration that featured Indian classical dance, Japanese rock-and-roll bands and five colourful floats decorated in the theme of Alice In Wonderland.

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Chingay started with a bang in 2004 when 18 6m-long firecrackers were set off for the first time during the parade. A 200,000-strong crowd witnessed 16 floats decked in fairy lights, more than 3,000 performers and a special appearance by action star Jackie Chan.

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2014's celebration set the bar for the Chingay parade. With giant puppets, an 8m-tall straw horse, the country's largest batik painting, and - at the heart of it all - some 70,000 volunteers and performers, it was the grandest showing by the annual Chinese New Year procession since it began in 1973.

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With the theme "Colours Of Fabric, One People", the parade also had the most number of foreign performers yet, with more than 800 people from six countries.

melheng@sph.com.sg