Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations to go online

Highlights include online competitions, virtual tour of Chinatown street light-up

Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2020 Organising Committee, hopes that this year's scaled-down celebrations will still be able to draw visitors to Chinatown, to help local businesses that have been struggling due to the l
Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2020 Organising Committee, hopes that this year's scaled-down celebrations will still be able to draw visitors to Chinatown, to help local businesses that have been struggling due to the lack of tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Bereft of tourists due to border closures and flight suspensions, the streets of Chinatown have been quiet during the Covid-19 outbreak.

But an organising committee hopes to bring some cheer back to the area next month by staging the annual Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations - albeit scaled down and mostly online to ensure safe distancing.

Online competitions such as lantern painting or Instagram photo contests will be held instead of nightly stage shows, festive bazaars and mass lantern walks.

While the traditional street light-up will still take place from Sept 17 to Oct 16, a 360-degree virtual tour of the decorations will also be made available so that people can admire them from the comfort of their homes.

The light-up ceremony will take place on Sept 17 and will be live-streamed online.

This year's light-up will comprise about 700 lanterns and sculptures, which depict traditional festival motifs and characters such as Chang'e, goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.

The display will also illustrate this year's theme - family - and underscore the central role that familial ties play in getting Singaporeans through the crisis, Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2020 Organising Committee, told The Sunday Times yesterday.

"(It also) reminds all Singaporeans that we can weather through this crisis as one united Singapore family," he added.

The lanterns and sculptures will line New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street and South Bridge Road. A 10m-tall centrepiece depicting a family reunion scene will also be placed at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and Upper Cross Street.

Mr Tan said the committee decided to scale down the event and be more financially prudent in marking the festival this year, in view of Covid-19. This year's celebrations are expected to cost 70 per cent less than in previous years.

Yet, the committee also felt it was still important to mark the occasion amid the crisis.

 
 
 

"We wanted to uplift the spirits of Singaporeans during this difficult time," said Mr Tan. It also demonstrates the committee's commitment to promote Chinese culture, and the heritage and traditions of the festival despite the circumstances, he added.

Visitors are welcome to visit Chinatown to take in the decorations this year, though they should be mindful of the need to avoid crowding and practise safe distancing, said Mr Tan.

The authorities have deployed safe distancing officers in Chinatown and the committee may work with them to ensure that rules are being adhered to during the celebrations, he added.

With less footfall in Chinatown now due to the absence of tourists, he hopes the festive decorations will draw more traffic to the area and help struggling local businesses.

More information about the activities will be made available on the Chinatown Festivals website as well as on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2020, with the headline 'Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations to go online'. Print Edition | Subscribe