NDP 2019: 6 things to look out for as Singapore marks National Day

Boat Quay (above), Merlion Park, The Promontory @ Marina Bay and the Helix Bridge offer some of the best views of the fireworks, but be sure to get there early. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Happy birthday, Singapore!

A plethora of events have been lined up to mark the country's 54th birthday, and also its bicentennial year.

Whether you are at the National Day Parade (NDP) at the Padang, or joining in the party from Marina Bay or the heartland, here's what to look out for this National Day (Aug 9).

1. Parade highlights

This year's NDP will see the return of the mobile column, which will feature 171 vehicles, for the first time in four years.

Key vehicles in the mobile column include the Leopard 2SG main battle tanks and Light Strike Vehicles.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the mobile column, there will be a segment paying tribute to Merdeka Generation servicemen.

The air force's Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft will also make its first NDP appearance during the aerial display.

Another crowd favourite, the Red Lions, is also set to wow the crowd at the Padang this year, after missing out on their last jump at the site in 2015 due to bad weather.

The team of nine parachutists will free-fall out of a helicopter from a height of 3,048m during the show's prologue segment, and come together in mid-air to form a ring by linking their arms together.

The parade starts at 5.30pm.

2. NDP show highlights

The show, which will be told over six acts, kicks off with a segment commemorating Singapore's bicentennial.

Eight floats representing longstanding local institutions, including The Straits Times, will be featured.

Other show staples, such as dance performances by brightly costumed performers, laser displays and giant props, will be in this year's show as well.

Seven musicians will take the stage in the first-ever segment devoted to rap and hip-hop music in Act 4: Our Nation.

Their music will be interspersed with short films by multimedia director Royston Tan that tell stories of ordinary Singaporeans overcoming adversity.

This year's parade will also feature the largest-ever parade prop - a 6m-tall metallic lion weighing about 1,000kg.

The silver lion will make its first appearance in Act 5 of the show, titled Our Dreams.

3. Security checks at the Padang

Security checks will be carried out on everyone entering the Padang. These include the use of walk-through metal detectors, and X-rays of personal belongings.

Ticket holders watching the NDP on Aug 9 are reminded not to bring prohibited items such as scissors to the Padang. Entry access will open from 3.30pm.

Flying unmanned aircraft, including drones, is also prohibited in the event area.

4. Where to catch the fireworks display

Fireworks will be set off from three locations this year - including the Singapore River for the first time - to give more people a chance of seeing them.

The pyrotechnics will be released from a barge in front of the Asian Civilisations Museum, as well as from Marina Bay and the Padang.

Boat Quay, Merlion Park, The Promontory @ Marina Bay and the Helix Bridge offer some of the best views of the fireworks, but be sure to get there early.

5. Celebrations in the heartland

Across the island, grassroots organisations will hold National Day observance ceremonies.

For instance, in the western part of the island, the celebration will start at around 7am when more than 4,000 Yew Tee and Limbang residents will walk or run around the Pang Sua Canal.

The event will end at Gain City Megastore in Sungei Kadut, where there will be a carnival with stalls offering free refreshments and games.

Similarly, a carnival will be held at Farrer Park Field.

To mark its history, when it was known as a football training field and a race course for horses, photography stations will be set up for residents to take pictures with ponies and former national footballers such as Mr Razali Saad and Mr Noh Alam Shah.

Those without tickets for the NDP at the Padang can watch it on giant screens at local landmarks, including Marina Barrage, Changi Airport Terminal 3, the National Museum and Our Tampines Hub.

On Saturday (Aug 10), more than 60 vehicles from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team will pass through five heartland sites: Bishan, Wisma Geylang Serai, Jurong East, Punggol and Woodlands.

The vehicles are expected to arrive at the sites by 6.45pm.

At around 8pm, there will be a mass pledge-taking session and the singing of the National Anthem, before ending off with spectacular displays of fireworks at all five locations.

5. Events in the community

Stand up and get moving for Singapore with Sports Hub's all-day event of exercise, games and fun on Friday.

Those up for a serious workout can have a go at the Red-X Challenge, where participants aim to finish 200 repetitions of every station - to mark Singapore's bicentennial.

The event is held from 10am to 9pm, with fringe activities such as a playground, crafts workshop and bazaar.

Art Market organiser The Local People has partnered the Singapore Land Authority to host art installations at the former St Andrew's Mission Hospital.

Titled "I am Citizen", the event on Friday will also feature music, art booths and a live streaming of the NDP.

Meanwhile, the National Museum of Singapore will be hosting a "National Day Open House".

The event, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, includes a screening of films about the country and an exhibition on local food packaging.

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