Feeling at home at River Hongbao

More than 500 lanterns made by 35 craftsmen from Sichuan, China, are on display at River Hongbao, which will run until Feb 24. The event also features fireworks, light shows, food, games and performances.
More than 500 lanterns made by 35 craftsmen from Sichuan, China, are on display at River Hongbao, which will run until Feb 24. The event also features fireworks, light shows, food, games and performances.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

With the theme of an endearing home, this year's event includes an indoor exhibition

Every year, the River Hongbao event draws in crowds looking to soak in the Chinese New Year festivities. This year was no different, with some 100,000 people turning up at the Marina Bay floating platform for the launch of the event's 32nd edition yesterday.

Besides the traditional, well-loved elements such as food stalls and lantern displays of animals in the Chinese zodiac, there were new initiatives too - including River Hongbao's first indoor exhibition.

Titled My Home, My New Year, the exhibition features full-sized displays of a kampung house, an old Housing Board flat and a modern home dining area. The exhibition details the experience of a fictitious character "Chun Sheng" of Chinese New Year in Singapore over the years. It was put together by 18 students, along with the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was guest of honour at yesterday's opening ceremony, said: "I am happy to see many inter-generational families spending time together and enjoying the Lunar New Year festivities at this year's River Hongbao.

"We must continue to build on our strong foundation built by our forefathers and make Singapore an endearing home where everyone can achieve their aspirations."

Visitors got a glimpse of the giant figure of the Chinese God of Fortune, which stands at 18m - taller than the height of three full-grown giraffes stacked one on top of another. Also on display were more than 500 lanterns made by 35 craftsmen from Sichuan, China.

Retired bus driver Lum Mun Chuen, 77, was there to soak in the atmosphere. He said: "My wife and I come here every year. It is usually very crowded, so we decided to come today, a weekday, to escape the crowd."

An 18m-tall God of Fortune towered over a 100,000-strong crowd who turned up at the opening of the annual River Hongbao yesterday. River Hongbao 2018 will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay until Feb 24. The 11-day multi-sensory extravaganza is packed
God of Fortune smiles on River Hongbao crowd: An 18m-tall God of Fortune towered over a 100,000-strong crowd who turned up at the opening of the annual River Hongbao yesterday. River Hongbao 2018 will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay until Feb 24. The 11-day multi-sensory extravaganza is packed with interactive fun, fireworks, food and festive spectacles to usher in the Year of the Dog. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Tourist Andrew Clappison, a 26-year-old from Canada, saw River Hongbao listed on an events page. "I saw it listed as a recommendation on things to do during the new year. So I came to try some of the food, and to see the fireworks."

In all, there will be 11 nights of fireworks, light shows, food, games and performances. Organisers expect one million visitors over the period.

River Hongbao 2018 is organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Press Holdings, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Tourism Board and People's Association.

The event is open from 2pm to 11pm daily from Feb 14 to 24, except on Chinese New Year's Eve today, when it will be extended to 1am. Admission is free.

Chairman of the River Hongbao organising committee, Ms Cheng Li Hui, said: "The spirit of Lunar New Year is really about home, families and reunion with our loved ones. I hope that visitors to River Hongbao can feel our theme of an endearing home through the various lantern displays and exhibition."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'Feeling at home at River Hongbao'. Print Edition | Subscribe