CNY 2020 Guide: What You Can Actually Do in Singapore this Chinese New Year If You're Not Celebrating

CNY 2020 Guide: What You Can Actually Do in Singapore this Chinese New Year If You’re Not Celebrating

A huat-tastic guide for a fun-filled Chinese New Year!

Singapore somewhat transforms into a deserted town every year during Chinese New Year. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that Chinese makes up 74.3% of the resident population and the majority of them observe the festival that marks the beginning of a new year in the lunar calendar. 

For those celebrating, it is an exuberant time to catch up with family and friends and chow down on festive treats. For the rest, turning into a couch potato and binge-watching Netflix seems like the only possibility to while away time during the public holiday. Fret not, you don’t have to turn into a sluggard and miss out on all the fun (unless you have no qualms about it) this Chinese New Year.

We have rounded up a few fun things you can do to make the most out of your well-deserved festive break right here on our sunny island.

1. Visit the Istana

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Do you know that the Istana — the official residence and office of the President of Singapore — will open its doors to the public only on five special dates this year? Why not seize the opportunity and be a guest of the President?

Be captivated by a variety of performances put up by local groups and school bands, and tour selected function rooms in the Istana Main Building. You can gaze at the special displays of gifts accorded to Singapore’s presidents and prime ministers over the years. Nature lovers can relish the diverse flora and fauna on the Istana grounds by participating in the Nature Guided Walks.

Make your way to the Istana on the second day of the Chinese New Year (26 January 2020) from 8.30am to 6.00pm. It is free for Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents. Details of additional fees for guided tours can be found here.

2. Hit one of the perfect picnic spots

Image credit: Nguyen Thu Hoai

Wondering where the best spots to enjoy a delightful picnic with your loved ones are  this Chinese New Year? We have got you covered.

  • East Coast Park
  • West Coast Park
  • Pasir Ris Park
  • Jurong Lake Gardens
  • Marina Barrage
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens

Gather your friends and family for a whale of a time under the glorious sun, surrounded not by the usual crowds you’ll find in these places, but by just the picturesque scenery. Play a game of freeze tag and sing along to famous hits together. Pack up delicious picnic grubs for a fun outdoor meal. Remember to slather on some sunscreen to protect yourself from prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays. 

You will have an indelible Chinese New Year for sure!

3. Stroll around Gardens by the Bay

Image credit: Gardens by the Bay

Inspired by the Lunar New Year, the mythological story of the 12 zodiac animals is portrayed through a dazzling floral showcase at the Gardens by the Bay from 17 January to 23 February. 

Feast your eyes on a stunning display of dahlias, chrysanthemums, azaleas and giant topiary-like sculptures amongst other visual treats at the Flower Dome. Dahlia Dreams – The Heavenly Race is the first-ever collaboration with Beijing Florascape in Southeast Asia.

Find out more here!

4. Unleash the kid in you at Universal Studios Singapore

Image credit: Resorts World Sentosa

Head down to Universal Studios Singapore to celebrate the auspicious day with an exciting lineup of activities. Trail a transcendental dragon dance on the sprawling park and snap photos with your favourite characters donning traditional costumes. Enjoy the adrenaline-pumping rides and stirring displays. Sounds like so much fun! Book your tickets here!

5. Behold an underwater dragon dance at S.E.A. Aquarium

Image credit: Resorts World Sentosa

Watch divers put up an enthralling dragon dance performance underwater — that’s not something you get to see often. A dragon dance is known to drive away evil spirits and usher in good luck. Also, observe the marine realm of S.E.A. Aquarium, which boasts diverse species of marine animals and has been specially adorned in festive grandeur to aggrandise the sheer ebullience of Chinese New Year.

Find out more here!

6. Shop at Mustafa centre

Image credit: Fabio Achilli

You will be glad to know that the 24-hour department store located along Syed Alwi Road in Little India will be opened on Chinese New Year! Spread over two buildings and six storeys, you can get your hands on practically anything. Run out of groceries or fresh produce and the supermarket located near you is closed? Fret not — stop by Mustafa Centre at any time of the day and stock up on everything that you need (and anything that you might not really need).

 Address: 145 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207704

Opening hours: 24 hours daily

7. Dine in at a hipster eatery at Haji Lane

Image credit: Bna Ignacio

HajI Lane is a food lover’s paradise. From Japanese to Mediterranean and cupcakes to murtabak, you are bound to find something to satiate your taste buds. Chill out if you feel peckish this Chinese New Year and don’t intend to slurp down a cup of instant noodles, these restaurants will keep you satisfied. Be sure to call in before making your way down to find out if the diner you have in mind is open on the gazetted public holiday and ascertain the opening hours. 

While you are at Haji Lane, take in sights of the stunning, vibrant graffiti art on the walls of the shophouses. Step up your Instagram game by posting a photo of yourself against the colourful walls.

8. Have a staycation

Image credit: Will Truettner

Everyone craves a vacation — a respite from the humdrum of everyday life. Let’s face it though, it takes hours of planning and a fortune to have the perfect holiday, especially during the festive season when flights may incur serious peak prices. Why not transport yourself to a different time and place all without stepping foot out of Singapore this Chinese New Year? Yes, as insane as it sounds, it is possible. Have a staycation at one of the many renowned hotels in Singapore. Unwind and rejuvenate without burning a hole in your pocket. Make sure to utilise the hotel’s amenities to your heart’s content.

9. Spruce up your home with furniture from IKEA

Image credit: billow 926

Spring cleaning is an unmissable tradition observed every Chinese New Year to make room for better things that are bound to come. It is often carried out days prior to the celebration. While it is forbidden to sweep and clean on the most auspicious day of the lunar calendar (beliefs are that you’ll be sweeping good luck away), you can visit IKEA to get furnishing inspirations and a slew of decor to beautify your home. 

There is something ethereal about visiting IKEA and doing so on Chinese New Year (when it may possibly not be crowded) that can enliven the experience!

10. Join in the festivities at River Hongbao

Image credit: Erwin Soo

A quintessential event that’s held annually, River Hongbao has become a deep-rooted tradition of ushering in the Chinese New Year in Singapore since 1987. 

Our favourite parts of the event are the myriad of activities that everyone can enjoy as well as the spread of authentic local street food that will surely tantalise your taste buds. The larger-than-life lanterns embodying Chinese mythical figures will take your breath away and make for the perfect backdrop for your photos. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the vast night sky for a spectacular display of fireworks.

Address: The Float @ Marina Bay

Event period: 2pm to 11pm, 23rd January to 1st February 2020

11.Snap some Instagram-worthy photos at Huat Huat Land

Image credit: SCCC

The Roof Garden at Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre has transformed into a dazzling festive wonderland with large and lustrous pineapples, bags of gold and supersized mahjong tiles. Don’t miss Asia’s first interactive AR Red Packet powered by Spark AR from Facebook bring to life the familiar sights, sounds and smells that are customary to usher in the Chinese New Year. If luck is on your side, you will stand a chance to win red packets distributed by the National Art Council through contest giveaways and event participation during Singapore Art Week.

Address: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Roof Garden

Event period: 9am to 11pm, 1st January to 8th February 2020

You can find out more at https://www.singaporeccc.org.sg/.

And there, now you can have just as exciting and prosperous a Chinese New Year as those who are out and about visiting relatives. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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Ifah Sakinah
Ifah Sakinah

Sakinah has a discerning palate and an innate desire to satisfy her inner curiosity. While she hasn't been everywhere, it's definitely on her list.

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