SINGAPORE - The Istana opened its gates to more than 46,000 visitors on Friday, the second day of Chinese New Year.
The 40ha President's residence in the heart of the city is open to the public just four days a year. It hosted lion dance performances and appearances from macaws, from Jurong Bird Park, and goats from a local farm.
Visitors enjoyed picnics and took photos.
Among them was 28-year-old Charmaine Su, who took her grandmother. "She is 65 this year, but has never gone to the Istana," said the accountant. "She even made me take a photo of her... you can sort of see the President in the crowd behind her. She was pretty excited about that."
About 8,000 of the visitors were foreigners.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary joined the crowd at about 4pm, greeting visitors and watching performances from local and international groups - including an all-girls' lion dance troupe from Nanyang Girls' High School and a team of acrobats from China.
The Istana opens to the public on selected dates each year, to mark Chinese New Year, Labour Day, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, National Day and Deepavali.
Entry is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, while others pay $1.