Orchard Road blooms with Christmas florals in annual festive light-up

People taking pictures of the Christmas On A Great Street Light-Up on Orchard Road on Nov 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Artist's impression of the giant projection screen. PHOTO: ORCHARD ROAD BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

SINGAPORE - Orchard Road bloomed with poinsettias, magnolias and Christmas roses on Saturday (Nov 13) evening when President Halimah Yacob, with the press of a button, triggered the annual Christmas light-up at 8pm.

With the theme "Christmas in Bloom", the shopping street was decked out with more than 68km of LED fairy lights that stretched from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura.

A giant augmented reality outdoor projection featuring Singapore's tourism mascots Merli and Friends will be flashed on the side of Mandarin Orchard Singapore every evening between 8pm and 10.30pm.

The digital wall will also be the new site for the countdown clock to Christmas Day and the New Year, a departure from the traditional location at the junction of Scotts Road and Paterson Road.

This year's dazzling spectacle is a leg-up from last year's pared-down decorations, amid slide in retail sales caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Orchard Road Business Association (Orba), organiser of the yearly light-ups, said the blooming decorations signify Singapore's journey of hope and resilience on the path back to normality.

The light-up ceremony, held at the urban plaza at Shaw House in Orchard Road, was also attended by Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health Masagos Zulkifli.

More than $1.1 million has been raised for the Community Chest (ComChest) through donors and event sponsors.

ComChest has also partnered the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and SG Cares in The Great Singapore Give initiative to increase the number of new givers during the festive season in the lead-up to SG Cares Giving Week on Dec 1 to 7.

For example, shoppers at all Isetan outlets can donate to ComChest by scanning QR codes on donation signs at cashier's counters from now to Dec 31.

A series of charity masterclasses will also be held to raise funds for five causes under ComChest.

ComChest chairman Phillip Tan said: "I hope that the annual light-up ceremony not only brings a spark of festive joy, but also symbolises the start of the giving season, where the nation comes together in support of communities in need during the festive period."

(From left) Orchard Road Business Association Chairman Markham Shaw, Hitachi Asia Chairman Kojin Nakakita, President Halimah Yacob, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, Community Chest Chairman Phillip Tan and Christmas Light-up 2021 Committee co-chairman Chris Chong at Shaw House on Nov 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

One of the main showpieces of this year's decorations is a 12m-tall main arch, featuring a medley of red, white and gold poinsettias and a large Christmas tree, which sits at the junction of Orchard Road and Scotts Road to welcome shoppers.

Shoppers walking along the stretch between Ion Orchard and Ngee Ann City will also be treated to recorded popular Christmas carols for a more festive experience.

Viewers at home can tour the light-up virtually via a 360-degree immersive view here.

The festive lights in Orchard Road will come on nightly from now until Jan 2 next year.

They will be turned on from 6.30pm to midnight from Sundays to Thursdays; 6.30pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays; and 6.30pm to 6am on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

People taking pictures of the light-up on Orchard Road on Nov 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Orba executive director Steven Goh said Singapore's high Covid-19 vaccination rate is a boost of confidence for many, with retailers looking forward to welcoming tourists back to the shopping belt as more vaccinated travel lanes open in time for the year-end holidays.

Associate Professor Tuck Siong Chung, who teaches marketing at Essec Business School Asia-Pacific, said while shoppers are still cautious about the pandemic and the need for safe distancing, consumers are "in need of some visual and sensory stimulus" that the Christmas light-up in Orchard Road offers.

The Community Chest Christmas On A Great Street Light-Up on Orchard Road on Nov 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Ms Lim Xiu Ru, a lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, noted that the digital aspects of this year's light-up, such as the giant projection wall and virtual tour, are a welcome move.

"Typically, Christmas light-up events draw in crowds for the festive atmosphere that they bring. The Orchard Road stretch continues to remain memorable to those who grew up looking forward to the holiday decorations... especially for those looking for a bit of festive cheer locally."

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