SINGAPORE - Visitors to the Istana Open House on Labour Day (May 1) braved a brief downpour in the morning but were rewarded when the sun came out at 10.30am and the sprawling lawns burst into activity.
Children spent time at face-painting and game booths while adults strolled around and took pictures as upbeat music played in the background.
President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee appeared at 11am and walked around the Istana grounds, interacting and taking photos with excited visitors and vendors.
They also watched handbell and band performances, observed a python and two Indian star tortoises at a Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) booth and visited activity booths by the Lifelong Learning Council.
Student Titus Neo, 10, who was visiting the Istana for the first time with his parents and younger brother, said he was excited to see the President's official residence.
He described the place as "grand" and added that he enjoyed playing the carnival games and stroking a bearded dragon Tangy, that WRS had brought in.
"I was quite scared at first when I saw it. But it's actually okay and not that scary," he said.
Teacher Chew Hui Fang, 33, who was having a picnic with two of her secondary school friends, her husband and two young daughters, said she was "pleasantly surprised" when President Halimah stopped to chat with them.
"We just came to enjoy the area and didn't expect to meet the President," she said, adding that she would visit the Istana again.
The Istana will be open to the public again this year on Hari Raya Puasa (June 15), a week and a half before National Day (July 29) and on Deepavali (Nov 6).