SINGAPORE - Street lanterns in the shape of majestic tigers will give extra festive shine to Chinatown from Friday (Jan 7), in the run-up to Chinese New Year on Feb 1.
The daily light-up will take place till March 2 from 7pm to midnight, with this year's theme - Usher in a Roaring New Year - chosen to welcome the Year of the Tiger.
"The tiger represents strength and courage. These are traits I hope we will continue to draw from, as we emerge from the pandemic stronger than before," said President Halimah Yacob at the launch of the light-up at a virtual ceremony on Friday at 7pm.
The ceremony, which took place on the Chinatown Festivals' Facebook page, also featured messages from Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs.
The Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng district is under her care as a Jalan Besar GRC MP.
Madam Halimah noted that this year's street light-up is in its 20th year. She said that over the years, the event has provided a platform for Singaporeans of all races to come together to understand and better appreciate Chinese culture.
She commended the organisers and volunteers as they continue to uphold tradition despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenges.
Mrs Teo said: "The sparkling lights and colourful decorations along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road remind us to stay joyful and confident. At South Bridge Road, traditional greetings and ornaments bring cheer to families and communities."
The light-up, organised by the Chinatown Festivals Organising Committee and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, has concept input from Singapore University of Technology and Design students.
The design features Bengal tigers, with the largest measuring up to 4.5m in length and almost 5m in height. Spanning 880m along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, the light-up has more than 300 lanterns, giving form to more than 60 tigers.
The organisers have collaborated with Temenggong Artists-in-Residence and World Wide Fund for Nature (Singapore) to display tiger sculptures in Kreta Ayer Square to raise awareness of tiger conservation.
There is a Chinatown Wishing Tree in Chinatown Point, where the public can purchase a card at $2 to write their wishes before displaying it on the tree. The money collected will go to less privileged residents in Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng.
Online activities include a live streaming of a getai performance and a step-by-step tiger origami tutorial.
Chinatown meanwhile has already seen a steady stream of visitors at its Chinatown Street Market.
The 149 stalls in Smith, Pagoda, Trengganu and Sago streets will operate till the wee hours of Chinese New Year.
Ms Lim Yick Suan, executive director of Chinatown Business Association, told The Straits Times that she is hopeful festive sales at the Chinatown Street Market will be better than last year's. This is because of the roll-out of booster jabs and a vaccination programme for children.
While most of the merchants in Chinatown are long-time businesses, new ones have sprung up in a sign of optimism and hope.
Fortune Court, a Chinese restaurant set up by eight former staff of well-known eatery Peony Jade who were retrenched when Covid-19 hit, moved into Pagoda Street in August 2021.
One of the founders, Madam Connie Chee, 54, told ST she has seen greater human traffic since December, and is confident of higher takings after the light-up begins.
Another new entrant is Homegrown By BNC in Trengganu Street, which started three months ago and sells festive plants. Mr Vincent Chew, its retail manager, said he is glad that it can tap the festive buzz in Chinatown to get going quickly.
The 50-year-old added: "Chinatown is the place to be for Chinese New Year. We are confident of better times and sales ahead."