CNY activities return in full physical form to welcome Year of the Rabbit

The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre's roof garden comes alive with a Chinese New Year art installation exhibition from now till March 31, 2023. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE

SINGAPORE - Chinese New Year festivities will make a full physical comeback after two years of Covid-19 restrictions, and preparations are already in place to welcome the Year of the Rabbit, which starts on Jan 22.

The Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival returns on site with a street light-up, food and festive fairs, and weekly stage shows, as well as a countdown party.

The official street light-up will take place at Kreta Ayer Square on Jan 3, and the lights will be switched on nightly until Feb 19 in New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road and, for the first time, Upper Cross Street. 

Organised by the Chinatown Festival Committee and supported by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee, the festival is themed “Leaping into the Prosperous Year of Rabbit”, to signify a year of rebirth, resurrection and vitality.

The countdown party will be held on Jan 21 from 9pm to 1am at Kreta Ayer Square, which will also host stage shows on Jan 7, 8, 14 and 15 from 7pm to 9pm. 

The Chinatown Festive Fair will be held in Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street from Jan 1 to Jan 21, from 6pm to 10pm. And for the first time, a Chinatown Food Fair will be held over the same period in Smith Street.

The Chinatown Business Association (CBA) will organise festive-themed weekend workshops, including a hongbao lantern-making workshop on Jan 7, at the Chinatown Visitor Centre.

CBA executive director Lim Yick Suan said: “Chinese New Year is one of the most anticipated celebrations in Chinatown every year. We can already feel the vibrancy as merchants are preparing to welcome shoppers visiting Chinatown to get their festive goodies and decorations.”

After two years of hybrid and digital editions, the Chingay Parade 2023 welcomes spectators back with a live showcase at the F1 Pit Building on Feb 3 and 4, and more than 3,000 young people will be involved in the performances and activities.

Taking centre stage is a container art installation standing 18m tall and 60m wide, comprising 28 shipping containers designed by the community to celebrate the coming together of Singapore’s different cultures.

At the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) at 1 Straits Boulevard, art installation (Tu)gether, at the roof garden, highlights Chinese New Year practices in Singapore using characters from Chinese mythology – Tu Zai (rabbit), Nian Mei (Chinese New Year dragon) and Ong Lai (pineapple).

Created by local artists Fiona Koh and Warren Khong, the free exhibition is on from now till March 31 from 10am to 10pm daily. 

The SCCC’s art installation exhibition, (Tu)gether, highlights CNY practices in Singapore using characters from Chinese mythology. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE

A laser light-and-sound show will be held on selected Saturdays from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, with a narration of the story of Tu Zai’s journey home to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family and friends.

SCCC visitors may redeem a set of limited-edition red packets at the reception counter from now till Feb 5, while stocks last. From Jan 4, SCCC will also launch Festive Fever, an online guide on Chinese New Year, at

Meanwhile, Gardens by the Bay will play host to River Hongbao for the third consecutive year from Jan 20 to 28. Visitors can enjoy glowing lanterns and carnival games, alongside performances by getai singers and local artistes.

The Chinese New Year floral display Dahlia Dreams at the Flower Dome runs from Jan 13 to Feb 26. There will be 100 rabbit figurines frolicking among more than 2,000 plants, including 40 varieties of vibrant dahlias and popular Chinese New Year blooms.

The centrepiece will be a River Hongbao lantern set featuring a majestic magnolia tree in the shape of the Chinese character for “rabbit”.

Integrated into the floral display will be an interpretation of Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise And The Hare. Also featured at Dahlia Dreams are well-known aspects of Chinese culture such as paper-cutting, lion dances, Chinese New Year goodies and spring couplets. 

A display from Dahlia Dreams 2022 at Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome. It will return next year to welcome the Year of the Rabbit. PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY

Gardens by the Bay chief executive Felix Loh said: “Flowers are a quintessential part of Chinese New Year, and the dazzling colours of dahlias and their association with prosperity make them extremely popular as part of the celebrations.

“We hope that everyone who visits will be able to immerse themselves in the joy and vibrancy of a new spring through our colourful and engaging floral displays and exciting programmes.”

The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, also known as Wan Qing Yuan, in Tai Gin Road will kick-start its Wan Qing Festival of Spring 2023 with Bunny-ful Blessings, an outdoor installation featuring two 2.5m-tall rabbits that symbolise double “hare-ppiness”. 

Presented in collaboration with Hong Kong illustrator and designer Chan Siu Kau, it will be open to the public from Dec 29 to Feb 19.

For the first time, the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall will be holding temple tours so that participants can gain insights into how devotees celebrate the new year. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUN YAT SEN NANYANG MEMORIAL HALL

Visitors can also sign up for lion dance and festive drumming workshops, as well as storytelling and craft activities for children.

For the first time, the memorial hall will also hold special temple tours so that participants can gain insights into how devotees celebrate the new year.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) will run a Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign.

From Jan 6 to Feb 3, visitors can collect complimentary red packets at 39 participating museums, heritage institutions and galleries. Each set contains eight red packets featuring the museum it is distributed at, and is limited to one set per visitor. Visitors can also buy a limited-edition collector’s album of all the red packet designs.

The monthly average Museum Roundtable visitorship in 2019 before the pandemic was over 730,000, while the monthly average visitorship in 2022 for the same event was slightly below 400,000.

As part of NHB’s Chinese New Year celebrations, admission to the permanent galleries at the National Museum of Singapore will be free on Feb 4.

NHB deputy chief executive of policy and community Alvin Tan said: “We expect museum visitorship figures to be higher than in 2022 due to crowd-pullers such as our popular hongbao campaign and festive lawn installation, as well as new innovative offerings such as our temple tours.

“However, due to revenge tourism and more competing local offerings, it remains to be seen whether we can return to pre-Covid-19 figures.”

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.