The streets of Chinatown were set aglow with festive lights yesterday to kick off celebrations to welcome the Year of the Rat.
Lanterns and auspicious props, such as gold ingots and Mandarin oranges, as well as the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, adorned the main streets of Chinatown.
But it was the Rat that drew the eye, leading the pack in a towering centrepiece at the junction of Eu Tong Sen and Upper Cross streets.
The light-up, which ends on Feb 22, is part of this year's Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board. President Halimah Yacob was the guest of honour at yesterday's event.
Cantonese culture will also be in the spotlight during this year's festivities, in a throwback to Chinatown's early days when Cantonese immigrants settled in Smith, Temple and Mosque streets.
There will be something for every palate during the festivities over the next seven weeks. Cultural arts aficionados can enjoy lion dance and Cantonese opera performances, while shopaholics can pick up decorations and apparel at the 329 stalls in the festive street bazaar. Foodies may also find something to celebrate at the Heritage and Food Trail, which will take visitors on a gastronomical tour of Chinatown, in particular, popular Cantonese dishes at hawker stalls in the area.
Dr Lily Neo, MP and adviser to Jalan Besar GRC grassroots organisations (Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng) said Chinatown will usher in the Year of the Rat with bright lights, exciting programmes and a deep appreciation of Singapore's traditions and culture.
She added: "This year, we hope to strengthen Cantonese culture by giving Cantonese performing arts and cuisine a platform for the community to enjoy. In the company of family and friends, we hope the festive season brings renewed blessings and positivity for the year ahead."