Earlier Christmas light-up to charm daytime shoppers in Orchard Road

Christmas lights along Orchard Road being tested on Monday night. The light-up will begin on Nov 11 in a ceremony to be officiated by President Halimah Yacob.
Christmas lights along Orchard Road being tested on Monday night. The light-up will begin on Nov 11 in a ceremony to be officiated by President Halimah Yacob.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Christmas lights in Orchard Road this year will come on about three hours earlier, at 3pm, in a bid to give visitors a "different experience".

Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) executive director Steven Goh said this could prompt Christmas shopping earlier in the day as well.

From Nov 11, the shopping belt will be awash in hues of purple, blue and silver, with interactive street-side installations and a 12m main arch, the tallest to be on display at the Christmas light-up so far.

The lights will stay on until midnight, except for Fridays and Saturdays, when they will continue to twinkle until 2am.

President Halimah Yacob will be officiating at the light-up ceremony on Nov 11.

Mr Goh said LED lights will be used to keep costs down.

For the first time, a Christmas Village similar to traditional Christmas markets in Europe will be set up outside Ngee Ann City from Nov 25. It will run for a month.

More than 25 brands will set up shop at the open-air village, including Starbucks and Paul bakery, and shoppers can dine al fresco and enjoy nightly live performances. There will also be a two-storey carousel, and the village will host a Christmas countdown concert on Christmas Eve.

The stretch between Wisma Atria and Mandarin Gallery will feature pop-up stores from early next month. A Haagen-Dazs store will host workshops and a "snow room", while an SK-II store will come with a cafe and art installations.

Orba chairman Mark Shaw said the group is confident that the new initiatives will "add to the allure of Orchard Road amid the challenging retail environment".

Last year, a stretch of Orchard Road was also made vehicle-free for eight hours in November, a first for the light-up.

Mr Goh said of this year's light-up: "Instead of just a day, the village is a (more permanent) location that can generate one month of activity."

The association is aiming to attract 3.64 million unique visitors to the shopping belt during the festive period.

Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim said that having the lights come on early can help create a festive mood that encourages visitors to start shopping earlier in the day.

"(The lights) do create a psychological effect. People's guards are down during this time of the year, and it is an important season for retailers (when it comes to ge-nerating sales)."

Creative strategist Lee Shu Shien, 24, usually avoids shopping in Orchard Road. "But I will probably make plans to visit Orchard Road during the festive period because of new activities like the performances."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Earlier light-up to charm daytime shoppers'. Subscribe