Back to tradition for Christmas light-up

Expanded area and conventional decor after last year's controversy over Disney theme

Left: An artist's impression of how the main arch of the Orchard Road Christmas light-up will look this year. Artists' impressions of the Christmas decorations that will adorn lamp posts and hang from trees this year. The light-up will run from Nov 1
Artists' impressions of the Christmas decorations that will adorn lamp posts and hang from trees this year. The light-up will run from Nov 16 to Jan 1 next year.PHOTO: ORCHARD ROAD BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
Left: An artist's impression of how the main arch of the Orchard Road Christmas light-up will look this year. Artists' impressions of the Christmas decorations that will adorn lamp posts and hang from trees this year. The light-up will run from Nov 1
Artists' impressions of the Christmas decorations that will adorn lamp posts and hang from trees this year. The light-up will run from Nov 16 to Jan 1 next year.PHOTO: ORCHARD ROAD BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
Left: An artist's impression of how the main arch of the Orchard Road Christmas light-up will look this year. Artists' impressions of the Christmas decorations that will adorn lamp posts and hang from trees this year. The light-up will run from Nov 1
An artist's impression of how the main arch of the Orchard Road Christmas light-up will look this year. PHOTO: ORCHARD ROAD BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

This year's Christmas light-up in Orchard Road will go for a more traditional feel, following criticism that last year's Disney-themed decorations had drawn focus away from the holiday's meaning.

Santa Claus will be the mascot and will feature heavily in the glittering archways and adornments lining the street, the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) announced at a press conference yesterday.

Themed "The Greatest Gift", the decorations will include other Yuletide staples such as Christmas trees and presents.

This year's light-up, which will run from Nov 16 to Jan 1 next year, will also be expanded, with street decorations extending to Grange Road and Orchard Link for the first time.

The Great Christmas Village, held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza over the past two years, will be spread across three locations and feature more rides and food vendors.

Orba chairman Mark Shaw told reporters at the Mandarin Orchard hotel that this year's theme was not influenced by the feedback last year.

He pointed to the fact that the first branded light-up in the event's 35-year history was the result of a three-year collaboration between The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia and the Singapore Tourism Board to bring themed events and activities to Singapore.

A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION

We've always tried to do the Christmas message generally and it may have gotten slightly lost last year. I thought it was still there, but it's just maybe how it was interpreted.

ORBA CHAIRMAN MARK SHAW

 
 

"We've always tried to do the Christmas message generally and it may have gotten slightly lost last year. I thought it was still there, but it's just maybe how it was interpreted," said Mr Shaw.

Last year, Disney characters such as Snow White and Cinderella took centre stage in the decorations, and this was criticised by the National Council of Churches of Singapore, which said the Christian festival's original meaning had been buried under an "extensive and sophisticated brand promotion exercise".

But there were also those who did not object to the Disney theme, saying it was compatible with the shopping season and held broad appeal.

This year, grander lamp-post decorations will line the Tanglin, Orchard and Somerset sub-precincts, which will each have a unique theme, Orba said.

Including the extended area, a total of 3.9km will be lit up by more than 6km of string lights and almost 200 Christmas tree-shaped LED decorations.

The Great Christmas Village will run from Nov 23 to Dec 26 at *Scape, the Grange Road open-air carpark and Shaw House Urban Plaza. It will feature more than 30 amusement rides and game booths, as well as food trucks, musical performances and other activities.

Mr Shaw said the decision to extend the light-up area was tied to the success of last year's village festivities. Spreading it across three venues will allow visitors to explore more of the area, he said.

Last year's Christmas event attracted four million visitors over seven weeks.

In May, Orba kicked off a monthly night-time event called Night at Orchard, featuring fashion, food and musical performances by buskers.

The event has helped to bring more local brands and night visitors to the area as part of Orba's efforts to rejuvenate Orchard Road, said its executive director Steven Goh.

Referring to venues such as the Grange Road carpark, Mr Goh said: "In the past, if you wanted to use state land for activities, there was a lot of hesitation because the application process was very complicated."

Platforms such as Night at Orchard now make it easier for brands to organise activities in Orchard Road, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2019, with the headline 'Back to tradition for Christmas light-up'. Subscribe