SINGAPORE - The pedestrian strip that stretches from Ion Orchard to Ngee Ann City was tented up and decorated with multi-coloured neon lights as the first in a series of monthly weekend events kicked off on Friday evening (May 3).
Over 8,500 visitors attended the first edition of Night At Orchard, said organiser Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA).
About 30 pop-up stores offering local fashion, five food trucks and live acts lined the bustling strip. The event will run from 5pm to 10pm on Saturday (May 4) and the next day.
The weekend night event is part of an eight-month long pilot to revitalise Orchard Road and showcase fashion, arts, street food, drinks and music with a different theme every month.
For the upcoming seven editions, the roving event will show up at different pockets of the shopping strip.
The locations are yet to be decided, but the programme line-up may be curated to coincide with special occasions such as National Day, the Singapore Grand Prix and Christmas, said an ORBA spokesman.
Night At Orchard comes as larger plans are underway to transform the 2.4km stretch into a more lively and green street.
In January, government agencies announced that new retail concepts, attractions, entertainment and events will be introduced to Tanglin, Somerset, Orchard and Dhoby Ghaut to strengthen Orchard Road's position as a lifestyle destination.
Part of the road may also go car-free to connect green spaces at the Istana Park, Dhoby Ghaut Green and the open space at Plaza Singapura.
Food trucks from local favourites such as Old Chang Kee to Michelin-starred restaurant Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro sold affordable street food at $10 and below on Friday night.
Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro sold its best-selling Chen's Mapo Tofu Don at $6.
The restaurant in Mandarin Orchard Singapore also created two items for the street event for easy consumption - chicken and pork wraps drizzled with its signature mala sauce.
"We wanted to make our Michelin-starred food not exorbitant, but affordable. Since the customers are not going to sit in a restaurant, we are not going to charge too much," said Ms Francine Loh, marketing communications manager at Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
"When you're walking along Orchard road, you wouldn't think of spending $20 on food because you just want to grab and go. That's why we adjusted our pricing."
The shopping belt is no stranger to night street events.
From 2014 to 2016, ORBA organised the Pedestrian Night where a 660m stretch of Orchard Road was closed to traffic on the first Saturday of every month.
The roads were filled with magicians, music performances, themed activities and contests.
Although the initiative attracted over 50,000 shoppers - twice the average Saturday night footfall - to each monthly event during its first six months, the higher traffic did not translate to better business in the shopping malls.
Visitors to Night At Orchard told The Straits Times that they enjoyed the event on Friday.
Mr Joel Loh, 20, who was drawn to the event when he saw the food trucks, said: "I've never bought food from a food truck before and you don't get to see food trucks at many places in Singapore. I also got to chat with the friendly owners while they were preparing my food."
The final-year Nanyang Polytechnic student added that he would attend future Night At Orchard events, because the space is not congested.
"The place is crowded, but I could still move around and find a spacious place to sit and have my food while enjoying the performance."
Currently, the stretch along Ion Orchard and Ngee Ann City has two food and beverage outlets - 7-Eleven and Mediterranean grilled kebabs outlet, Pita Tree.
With five food trucks located opposite the outlet, Pita Tree's business took a hit.
"Retail events and functions on the street are good for our business. But today, with more food options nearby, we are losing money.
"Compared to normal Friday night earnings, we made $500 to $800 less today," said Mr Suraj Kumar, the outlet's senior chef.