More in-person festivities making a return for Mid-Autumn Festival

Celestial Bodies, which features spherical lanterns of the sun, moon, Earth,Saturn and Mercury, on display at The Memorial Hall at Tai Gin Road. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations are under way at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Gardens by the Bay and Chinatown, with the common theme of a blissful reunion after the pandemic hit.

Organisers expect a good turnout as in-person activities return or are held on a bigger scale, with lantern displays, food fairs and performances among the highlights.

The Memorial Hall in Tai Gin Road is showcasing a lawn installation created in collaboration with Kai 3D Art Studio from Taiwan until Sept 25. Celestial Bodies features spherical lanterns - of about 2m in width and height - of the Sun, Moon, Earth, Saturn and Mercury, symbolising the joyous union of family and friends.

There will also be a variety of free and ticketed programmes such as performances and workshops on Sept 3 and 4. More details are on the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall website.

Mr Alvin Tan, National Heritage Board's deputy chief executive for policy and community, said the lawn installation started in 2015 and has been a yearly attraction even during the pandemic, drawing 31,000 visitors last year.

All other festival programmes were held virtually in the past two years, and Mr Tan expects more visitors this year as these programmes return to the Memorial Hall.

For the first time since the pandemic, Gardens by the Bay will bring back its marketplace offering street food and knick-knacks, as well as outdoor cultural performances, for the celebrations from Aug 27 to Sept 11.

Ms Teo Ying Er, its assistant director of programming (festivals and events) said that with the return to normality, friends and families can fully enjoy the festivities with no restrictions.

Highlights of its lantern display include Flight To The Phoenix, inspired by the Chinese folklore tale of a hundred birds soaring towards the phoenix to honour its sacrifice. At the Supertree Grove is Joyous Reunion, featuring the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

Another lantern set, The Colours Of Daily Life, depicts animals playing together in a post-pandemic world. It is made from traditional Korean paper, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and Seoul Tourism Organisation.

Colonnade Of Lights features 1,000 lanterns hand-painted by the public, including readers of the Chinese Media Group of SPH Media Trust, one of its partners for the festival.

Gardens by the Bay will bring back its marketplace offering street food and knick-knacks, as well as outdoor cultural performances, for the Mid-Autumn Festival. PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY

Chinatown will be bringing back an in-person event after two years of virtual celebrations on the theme of Blossoming Flowers Under The Full Moon, in reference to a sense of bliss as families and loved ones reunite.

Visitors can view the light-up in Upper Cross Street for the first time, in addition to the usual areas of New Bridge Road, South Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street, from Aug 26 to Sept 25.

The main centrepiece at Eu Tong Sen Street is a 10m-tall candy-coloured sculpture of snowskin mooncakes accompanied by jade rabbits. There will also be mooncake lanterns representing different Chinese dialect groups in Singapore.

For the first time, there will be a food fair at Smith Street from Aug 26 till Sept 10 from noon to 10pm daily. Weekend stage shows at Kreta Ayer Square, a lantern painting competition at Chinatown Point and a trade fair outside People's Park Complex will also be held at various times.

Mr Ryan Tan, co-chairman of the Chinatown festival committee, said that before the pandemic, more than a million visitors would join in the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival each year. He hopes to attract the same number of visitors this year.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Lantern or Mooncake Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which is on Sept 10 this year.

Madam Jocelyn Foo, a 41-year-old administrator who was at the Memorial Hall on Monday with her family, said she was looking forward to the celebrations this year. Her sons, Keegan Low, nine, and Jaylen Low, five, marked the occasion in the last two years by carrying lanterns around their home or neighbourhood, without taking part in any mass festivities.

"It's good to have these public events again after celebrating at home for two years," she said. "We will simply put on our masks if it gets too crowded."

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