Large crowds welcome Year of the Dog at annual River Hongbao event

Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.
Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Gold flakes from the god of fortune fill the air as the clock strikes 11.
Gold flakes from the god of fortune fill the air as the clock strikes 11.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Gold flakes from the god of fortune fill the air as the clock strikes 11.
Gold flakes from the god of fortune fill the air as the clock strikes 11.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Mr Ng Chee Meng cycling on a roller that powers up a display at the event.
Mr Ng Chee Meng cycling on a roller that powers up a display at the event.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - It may be the Year of the Dog, but the 160,000-strong crowd at River Hongbao on Friday (Feb 16) welcomed the Chinese New Year with a lion's roar.

Fireworks filled the air as the clock struck 12, and the crowds cheered their way into the new year.

Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools), was guest-of-honour at the countdown at the annual River Hongbao event.

Mr Ng wished the crowd a happy new year, and said in Mandarin: "I wish for peace and prosperity for our country and its people."

The countdown programme at the Marina Bay floating platform started at 10pm on Thursday (Feb 15), with performers from countries such as China and Taiwan dazzling the crowd with song and dance.

River Hongbao has been part of Singapore's Chinese New Year festivities since 1987, but appears to have lost none of its charm, as the big turnout on Friday showed.

From now till Feb 24, visitors to the event can expect nights of fireworks, light shows, food, games and performances. Organisers expect one million visitors over the period.

River Hongbao 2018 is organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Press Holdings, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Tourism Board and People's Association.

The event is open from 2pm to 11pm daily. Admission is free.

Chairman of the River Hongbao organising committee, MP Cheng Li Hui, said: "River Hongbao has always been about the preservation of Chinese culture and traditions. The organising committee... hopes to share with visitors stories from our past in an interesting way, and pass on some of the important values from our forefathers."