River Hongbao Chinese New Year festivities aim to draw younger crowd

An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017.
An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017. PHOTO: RIVER HONGBAO ORGANISING COMMITTEE
An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017.
An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017. PHOTO: RIVER HONGBAO ORGANISING COMMITTEE

SINGAPORE - From virtual flying lanterns to a performance by local heart-throb Nathan Hartono, this year's River Hongbao event at The Float @ Marina Bay is looking to draw a younger crowd.

An interactive mobile app, slated to be launched on Jan 18, will allow people to send Chinese New Year wishes that appear as writings on sky lanterns on mobile screens. And on site at River Hongbao, visitors will be able to put on virtual reality glasses to see a 360-degree view of the flying lanterns.

River Hongbao has been part of Singapore's Chinese New Year festivities since 1987. This year's edition will run from Jan 26 to Feb 4 and is expected to draw more than one million visitors.

The event will be held from 2pm to 11pm daily, but will be extended until 1am on Jan 27, Chinese New Year's Eve. Admission is free.

Singer Hartono will perform on the opening night. Other acts to look forward to include "xinyao" and getai songs by local artistes, as well as performances by overseas troupes such as the acclaimed Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe.

As in previous years, there will be more than 30 rides and games booths, as well as handicraft and food stalls.

There will also be an exhibition, The More We Get Together: Major Festivals In Singapore, to celebrate Singapore's multicultural heritage.

And despite the slowing economy, the free event will still have fireworks on all the 10 days it will run, similar to last year's nine-day event.

Said event's vice-chairman Chong Kee Hiong, who is also MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC: "Some organisations have had to reduce the amounts they have contributed, but we have been able to find more funds from other sources."

River Hongbao 2017 is jointly organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Tourism Board and the People's Association.