Singapore ushers in 2020 with heartland countdown parties, Marina Bay fireworks

Drones forming the numbers “2020” with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.
Drones forming the numbers “2020” with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones forming the shape of a whale with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.
Drones forming the shape of a whale with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones forming the shape of a crane with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.
Drones forming the shape of a crane with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones forming the shape of a Merlion during the countdown.
Drones forming the shape of a Merlion during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones forming the shape of a diamond with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.
Drones forming the shape of a diamond with Star Island fireworks during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A soprano is elevated while she performs during the countdown.
A soprano is elevated while she performs during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A soprano is elevated while she performs during the countdown.
A soprano is elevated while she performs during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Fireworks going off during the show.
Fireworks going off during the show.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
A performer dances with a member of the audience during the countdown.
A performer dances with a member of the audience during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A fire twirler performs during the countdown.
A fire twirler performs during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Stilt dancers entertain the audience  during the countdown.
Stilt dancers entertain the audience during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Stilt dancers entertain the audience  during the countdown.
Stilt dancers entertain the audience during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones form the shape of a clock in the final seconds before the stroke of midnight during the countdown.
Drones form the shape of a clock in the final seconds before the stroke of midnight during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones form the shape of a ship during the countdown.
Drones form the shape of a ship during the countdown.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Drones forming ‘2020’ as fireworks go off.
Drones forming ‘2020’ as fireworks go off.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Fireworks going off after midnight.
Fireworks going off after midnight.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - At the stroke of midnight, Singapore ushered in a new year with countdown parties in Housing Board heartlands and a spectacular eight-minute fireworks display at Marina Bay.

Revellers thronged the bay area from as early as 3pm on Tuesday (Dec 31) to be part of the festivities. These included live performances at Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, a pets carnival at the Civic District and a 90-minute fireworks musical at The Float @ Marina Bay with 500 drones, 3D light projections and pyrotechnics.

At 10.50pm, the drone performance lit up the night sky at Marina Bay, creating formations such as a spaceship and a whale, and culminating with an eight-minute fireworks display at midnight.

The fireworks show was produced by Japanese entertainment group Avex.

At the Jubilee Bridge, photographers were setting up their tripod cameras from as early as 3pm to ensure that they get the best view of the fireworks.

One of them was part-time tutor Gary Fong, who was at the Jubilee Walk footpath at 3.30pm.

"The fireworks (show) from Japan was more vibrant and colourful, much better than the normal fireworks," said the 55-year-old, who was also at the Marina Bay countdown in 2018.

Ms Mary Chen, 35, a tourist from Malaysia, said: "The drones were amazing, we loved the performance and the storyline."

Earlier at the Civic District, the pets carnival attracted visitors and their pets from as early as 4pm.

One of them was retiree Jason Tan, 77, who was with his two grandchildren aged two and four and their dog. "I came here this year despite the crowd as I wanted to soak in the atmosphere and have some bonding time with my grandchildren. It has been more than 20 years since I was at the Marina Bay area for a countdown event," he said.

The countdown celebration at Marina Bay was organised by Urban Redevelopment Authority in collaboration with various agencies and event partners. The event was one of several countdown parties islandwide.

At Our Tampines Hub, residents and revellers were treated to an eight-minute fireworks and laser display as the clock struck 12.

Finance analyst Grace Lim, 27, who was there with her boyfriend, said the display was better than she expected.

"We were expecting something shorter. For a heartland celebration, this was really good. We really like the atmosphere here," Ms Lim said.

The community hub played host to some 100,000 visitors from earlier in the day, with activities such as a kids carnival and free movie screenings.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is an MP for Tampines GRC, joined in the countdown festivities there, along with fellow GRC MPs Desmond Choo, Baey Yam Keng and Cheng Li Hui.

In a speech before the countdown, Mr Heng said Our Tampines Hub has attracted 43 million visitors making use of facilities, such as a library and swimming pool, since it opened its doors in August 2017.

"For me, something special in 2019 was how Tampines residents have been coming together in Our Tampines Hub...We look forward to seeing more of you more often," he said.

Housewife Alkita Dhumal, 30, who was there with her husband and two daughters, said she preferred going to the festivities in the heartlands as Marina Bay can get crowded.

"If we are late (getting) to Marina Bay and don't get a good position, we can't really see anything, especially the fireworks," she said. The last time her family attended a countdown at Marina Bay was in 2012.

Over in the north-eastern region, some 4,000 residents turned up at Harmony Square 2@Punggol East to join in the celebration, which included a firework display, with Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Ng Chee Meng and Punggol East MP Charles Chong in attendance.

Fireworks also lit up the Yishun-Khatib area, with some 10,000 revellers gathering at MPC@Khatib, a multi-purpose court area near Khatib MRT station.

Back at Marina Bay, a team of 250 cleaners and more than 150 National Environment Agency's litter-free ambassadors went around the Marina Bay and Civic District to clean up the area after the countdown party.

Undergraduate Jasmine Lim, 20, who was spotted picking up her own rubbish as she was leaving Marina Bay, said: "We should all try to pick up our own trash to reduce the workload of the cleaners, especially given the scale of this event. That will definitely make 2020 a better start for everyone."