Singapore's golden jubilee celebration begins

Singaporeans turn out in force for jubilee events; Sing50 show tops off special holiday

Guests including (background, from left) Singapore Press Holdings chairman Lee Boon Yang, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan, and artists (foreground, from left) Dick Lee and Rani Singam, after the final n
Guests including (background, from left) Singapore Press Holdings chairman Lee Boon Yang, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan, and artists (foreground, from left) Dick Lee and Rani Singam, after the final note of Majulah Singapura at the Sing50 show. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
SPH Brightcove Video
More than 70 artists, including Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin and Dick Lee, delivered hit after hit to a crowd of 45,000 at the National Stadium, as part of the Sing50 mega concert.

Singaporeans were given a special day off yesterday to mark Singapore's 50th year of independence, and they came out by the thousands to do so everywhere - on land, by the beach and in the air.

Singaporeans thronged heartland centres, visited landmarks such as the ArtScience Museum and the Botanic Gardens, enjoyed picnics at Marina Bay and Sentosa island - and even looked eagerly overhead as fighter pilots performed aerobatic stunts up high and over the waterfront.

To top it off, the special public holiday, which made for an extended break, was anchored by a Sing50 concert at the National Stadium, presented by The Straits Times and The Business Times.

More than 41,000 Singaporeans packed the National Stadium for the concert to celebrate 50 years of Singapore music.

For over two hours, young and old were taken on a journey through history with some of the songs that brought a people together - from rock 'n' roll hits of the uncertain 1960s to rap numbers of a more confident 21st century.

There were songs in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English, performed by stars including Dick Lee, Rahimah Rahim, Jeremy Monteiro, Stefanie Sun and Rani Singam, reflecting the multiracial and shared heritage of a nation on the cusp of its 50th anniversary.

The concert concluded with a heartfelt sing-along by the audience, including President Tony Tan Keng Yam, to the National Day Parade classic Home, and a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, as the first day of the four-day long weekend drew to a close.

Earlier, outdoor celebrations were slightly dampened by a downpour, but crowds still showed up in force at events.

At the Marina Barrage, the Black Knights soared and swooped overhead in their red-and-white Fighting Falcons as a 10,000-strong crowd cheered them from below.

But the Republic of Singapore Air Force aerobatics team had to cut their planned 25-minute performance by four minutes due to cloudy conditions in the morning.

Elsewhere, about 25,000 people visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Those who braved the initial downpour were rewarded with prime seats at its outdoor concert.

There, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled a plaque marking the latest feather in Singapore's cap - the Gardens' new status as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

There was also a new bloom for the country as Mr Lee officially named the SG50 orchid, the Singapore Golden Jubilee - a hybrid coloured in shades of pink and mauve with a bright yellow throat.

Meanwhile, queues formed at several museums and attractions as many flocked to take advantage of waived admission fees for Singaporeans and permanent residents.

The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands saw people wait for hours in snaking queues, while lines at the Science Centre began at 8am. The National Heritage Board reported that over 22,000 visited its eight museums and heritage institutions. At Sentosa, entry to the Merlion was free yesterday.

Celebrations in the heartland were no less exciting, as some 16,000 residents watched live performances and played carnival games at picnics in Pasir Ris, Sembawang and West Coast.

The less fortunate were not forgotten as more than 9,000 people took part in a 4km Community Chest Heartstrings Walk and raised over $2 million for charity. Mr Lee, who made an appearance at the walk, said later on Facebook: "In this Jubilee year, our progress as an inclusive, caring community deserves special celebration."

A tapestry of S'pore music
Winning blend of pop and classical
Moving tribute to LKY
Artists felt the buzz, had a blast
25,000 enjoy festivities at Botanic Gardens
Residents celebrate across heartland
Nation begins partying despite the rain
Celebrating SG50 in their own special way

Putting Singapore above self
Stepping into Bata's shoes
Brand Singapore: Defining the nation


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline Singapore's golden jubilee celebration begins. Subscribe