Chinatown all lit up and ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year

Fireworks display during the Chinatown Chinese New Year Official Light-up and Opening Ceremony on Jan 27, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arriving for the Chinatown Chinese New Year Official Light-up and Opening Ceremony on Jan 27, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Retiree Victor Yue, 65, has lived in Chinatown all his life and looks forward to the Chinese New Year celebrations in his neighbourhood every year.

The former engineer told The Straits Times: "This whole neighbourhood transforms every Chinese New Year and becomes very festive. During the celebrations, Chinatown becomes more bustling and busy and I really enjoy it."

Mr Yue was among the 60,000 people at Chinatown on Saturday evening (Jan 27) observing the official light-up and opening ceremony of the neighbourhood's annual Chinese New Year celebrations.

Guest of honour Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the event at 8pm, kickstarting 49 days of festivities in Chinatown.

The streets were then bathed in a sea of light from the many lanterns overhead.

PM Lee was accompanied by other VIPs including Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Heng Chee How, Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua, Jalan Besar GRC MP Lily Neo and MP for Potong Pasir SMC Sitoh Yih Pin.

Singapore will be welcoming the Year of the Dog next month.

Dog lovers can look forward to a dog-themed carnival as part of the celebrations. There will also be a dog costume competition on Feb 3 in Kreta Ayer Square, where pets can show off their best festive-themed outfits.

Other highlights include the 11th International Lion Dance Competition on Feb 2 and 3; a 420-stall festive street bazaar from Friday to Feb 15; a flower market which returns after a 10-year hiatus; the Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party on Feb 15; and the Chingay 2018 @ Chinatown on Feb 25.

Unlike Mr Yue, Filipino caregiver Celen Bantey, 29, was part of the Chinatown festivities for the very first time on Saturday evening since arriving in Singapore in 2016.

She said: "I come from Manila and Chinese New Year is also celebrated in the city's Chinatown. From what I see, even though Singapore is very modern, it is still very traditional when it comes to celebrating events like this. I'm really enjoying myself."

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