River Hongbao seeks to woo the young

Artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017.
Artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017.PHOTO: RIVER HONGBAO ORGANISING COMMITTEE
The God of Fortune, who showers visitors with golden strips and fortune numbers, was a crowd favourite at the River Hongbao 2016.
The God of Fortune, who showers visitors with golden strips and fortune numbers, was a crowd favourite at the River Hongbao 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Among the highlights: mobile app for virtual flying lanterns and show by Nathan Hartono

From virtual flying lanterns to a performance by local heart-throb Nathan Hartono, this year's River Hongbao 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 users to send Chinese New Year wishes that appear as writings on sky lanterns on mobile screens. And when you visit River Hongbao, you will be able to put on virtual reality glasses to take in a 360-degree view of the flying lanterns.

River Hongbao has been part of local Chinese New Year festivities since 1987, with this year's edition running from Jan 26 to Feb 4. The free event is expected to draw more than one million visitors. Opening times are from 2pm to 11pm daily, but will be extended until 1am on Jan 27, Chinese New Year Eve.

There will be more than 60 lantern displays, including the main 53m-long, 13m-high lantern set piece bearing the image of a rooster, and upcoming local landscapes featuring Jewel Changi Airport and Punggol Eco-town. Singer Hartono will perform on the opening night.

Other acts the public can look forward to include xinyao and getai songs by local artists, as well as performances by overseas troupes such as the acclaimed Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe.

Visitors can take rides and play games, buy handicrafts and eat at more than 30 booths and stalls.

An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017. In total, there will be more than 60 lantern displays. This year's edition at The Float@Marina Bay will run from Jan 26 to Feb 4.
An artist's impression of the main lantern display at River Hongbao 2017. In total, there will be more than 60 lantern displays. This year's edition at The Float@Marina Bay will run from Jan 26 to Feb 4. PHOTO: RIVER HONGBAO ORGANISING COMMITTEE

An exhibition, The More We Get Together: Major Festivals In Singapore, will celebrate Singapore's multicultural heritage.

And despite the slowing economy, there will be fireworks for two to three minutes on all the 10 days, similar to last year's nine-day event.

Said the event's vice-chairman Chong Kee Hiong, who is also an 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."

  • 1m

    More than this number of visitors will be expected at River Hongbao.

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.

Student Val Teo, 19, who plans to attend the event with her parents, welcomed the idea of a mobile app for virtual lanterns, "especially since it's hard to fly physical lanterns in the sky in Singapore".

"It's refreshing, but maybe there could be even more trendy stuff to appeal to young people," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'River Hongbao seeks to woo the young'. Print Edition | Subscribe