Next month's River Hongbao set to be biggest Chinese New Year bash yet

Visitors taking photos in front of the flower-shaped lanterns display at last year's River Hongbao on Feb 2, 2014. This year's celebration is set to be the biggest in its 29-year history, with aerial tightrope walkers from China's Xinjiang Autonomous
Visitors taking photos in front of the flower-shaped lanterns display at last year's River Hongbao on Feb 2, 2014. This year's celebration is set to be the biggest in its 29-year history, with aerial tightrope walkers from China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, more than 60 handcrafted lanterns and an SG50 photo exhibition among its highlights. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Next month's River Hongbao is set to be the biggest in its 29-year history, with aerial tightrope walkers from China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, more than 60 handcrafted lanterns and an SG50 photo exhibition among its highlights.

The annual Chinese New Year carnival will be held over 12 days at The Float @ Marina Bay from Feb 17 to 28. This year, it will be celebrating both the Lunar New Year and Singapore's Jubilee year.

Promising a breathtaking performance are two acrobats from The Acrobatic Troupe of Xinjiang China, who will perform stunts on a 60m-long tightrope, at least 20m off the ground.

Singers and dancers from Xinjiang Normal University and National Taiwan University of Physical Education and Sport will take the stage for the first six nights, before performers from Singapore take over.

To mark SG50, there will be an exhibition, curated by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao's editorial team, featuring photos of Singaporeans celebrating Chinese New Year through the years.

Several lanterns will feature old local icons, such as the dragon playground and the New World Amusement Park from the 1920s.

Other highlights include an 18m-tall God of Fortune lantern, a food street with 60 local food stalls and a singing marathon with 50 well-known getai singers.

"This year, River Hongbao aims to relive fond memories of how we celebrate Lunar New Year since independence as well as to reflect what has changed and what has stayed firmly rooted with us," said Mr Liang Eng Hwa, chairman of the organising committee and Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

The light-up ceremony will take place on Feb 17 with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong doing the honours. There will be two firework displays at the carnival - one during the ceremony and another during the Chinese New Year countdown on Feb 18.

Opening hours are from 2pm to 11pm daily, except on Feb 18, when it will close at 1am after the countdown. Admission is free.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg