9 Cultural Festivals in Singapore That Celebrate Its Cultural Diversity

9 Unmissable Festivals and Events That Celebrate Singapore’s Cultural Diversity

Which of these festivals excite you the most?

Singapore boasts a rich and diverse cultural tapestry that appeals to travellers of different backgrounds. Every year, the Lion City celebrates different cultural festivals and events with great enthusiasm, showing off its unique diversity. Whether it’s the Chinese New Year festivities that paint the entire Chinatown area red or the vibrant Ramadan bazaars in Kampong Gelam during Hari Raya, there’s always something memorable to experience. 

Here are some of the top cultural festivals in Singapore throughout the year. Get ready to immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant mix of diverse cultures!

Also read: A Guide to Singapore’s Art Festivals: Singapore Art Week and Other Events For Art Lovers

Cultural festivals in Singapore you don’t want to miss

1. Chinese New Year

cultural festivals in Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

When: Jan – Feb 2024 

Where: Chinatown; River HongBao at Gardens by the Bay

Chinese New Year, aka the Lunar New Year, is probably one of the biggest celebrations in Singapore. The colour red, symbolising luck and prosperity in Chinese tradition, graces the cityscape in various forms. 

There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Chinese New Year celebrations than in Chinatown and River HongBao at Gardens by the Bay. Weeks before the actual celebration, there will already be a series of interactive events, performances, and food fairs in Chinatown. 

One of the activities not to be missed is the Street Light-Up along New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street and South Bridge Road. You’ll be dazzled by the plethora of beautiful light installations, handmade sculptured lanterns, flowers, and more! You can also enjoy cultural performances at the annual Chinatown Festival and visit the iconic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. 

cultural festivals in Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Likewise, the annual River HongBao is where visitors can enjoy an array of carnival games and activities, traditional Chinese performances, delicious snacks, and most importantly, massive lantern displays!

2. Pongal Festival

When: Jan 2024

Where: Little India

The Pongal Festival is a traditional harvest celebration celebrated by the Tamil community. In Singapore, the festivities kick off with a month-long celebration, featuring events such as the Pongal Light-Up Ceremony in Little India, daily Pongal-themed performances, street decorations adorned with seasonal motifs like pots, sugar canes, and cattle, and additional programmes like guided tours and hands-on activities.

Head to Little India’s Campbell Lane, Kinta Road, and Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple during the festivity to witness cultural dances, catch a thrilling mass Pongal cooking competition, and bring home some unique festive souvenirs.

3. Chingay Parade

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

When: 23 & 24 Feb 2024

Where: F1 Pit Building

One of Singapore’s most vibrant and liveliest cultural festivals, the Chingay Parade, brings together Singaporeans of diverse backgrounds and showcases the country’s multicultural heritage. The term Chingay is synonymous with the Mandarin expression ‘zhuang yi’ (妆艺), meaning ‘the art of costume and masquerade’ in the Hokkien dialect. 

Usually held at the F1 Pit Building during Chinese New Year, this annual event features local art, music, and dance performances along with flamboyant floats, dragon dances and stilt walkers. Add to that the colourful light and sound installations and what you have is a cultural event that will excite the whole family. And yes, visitors can take photos with the colourful floats too! 

4. Hari Raya

cultural festivals in Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

When: Mar – Apr 2024

Where: Kampong Gelam; Geylang Serai

Hari Raya Aidilfitri is another major cultural festival in Singapore. It marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which involves worship, acts of compassion, and fasting for around a month. During the Ramadan period, visitors can already experience the festival light-ups at Geylang Serai, as well as its bustling bazaar that boasts scrumptious Malay delicacies. 

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

In addition, during the festive period, many will head to Kampong Gelam, where it will be enlivened by the annual Ramadan Bazaar. There will typically be food and retail stalls, projection light shows on the facade of Masjid Sultan and even community initiatives. This area, popularly known as a foodie’s paradise, is also home to a plethora of local and international cuisines, live music performances, as well as art galleries.

5. Dragon Boat Festival

When: Jun 2024

Where: Bedok Reservoir; Kallang River; DBS Marina Regatta

The Dragon Boat Festival has a legacy that spans about 25 centuries. Each year, dragon boat races commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and loyal official of the State of Chu during the Warring States Era who drowned himself after being exiled and learning of the invasion of his homeland. In fact, the tradition of eating rice dumplings during the festive season can be traced back to Qu Yuan’s tragic story. 

Beyond savouring different types of glutinous rice dumplings that include both savoury and sweet versions, you can also catch the enticing dragon boat race at Bedok Reservoir, featuring competitors around the world. If you’re confident enough, consider participating in the game yourself at Kallang River, or opt for an exciting family day that also involves this water sport at DBS Marina Regatta.

6. Qixi Festival

When: Aug 2024

Where: Chinatown

The Qixi Festival, traditionally observed on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, commemorates the annual reunion of the legendary Chinese lovebirds, Zhinü and Niulang. It is often referred to as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. Qixi has been celebrated by Majies (domestic servants) and women workers in Singapore since the 19th century. Nonetheless, the tradition slowly disappeared in the 1970s as many of them retired.

Aiming to revive the mainly forgotten festive spirit, the Qixi Fest is held in Chinatown. In 2023, it featured a series of talks, workshops, exhibitions, and tours, leading up to a two-day-long mega carnival. Some of its major programs include the “Make a Wish Magpie” workshop, where the public can participate in the “Qiqiao” (乞巧, meaning “begging for cleverness”) tradition by crafting their own crochet magpie plushie, Cantonese opera performance, and Chinese poetry workshops.

7. My Community Festival

When: Aug 2024
Where: Chinatown

In the spirit of the Chinese proverb that expresses the meaning, “Knowing our nearby neighbours and neighbourhoods is more significant than having a distant relative,” My Community Festival is organised to celebrate the often-overlooked beauty of everyday people and places in Singaporean neighbourhoods. This event invites both local and overseas friends to uncover the lesser-known aspects of Singapore’s neighbourhoods, after-hours occupations, religious practices, and even step into the homes of hosts for an intimate dinner and cultural exchange. 

8. Mid-Autumn Festival


When: Sep – Oct 2024

Where: Chinatown; Gardens by the Bay

Tasty mooncakes, gorgeous lanterns, and candles bring life to the Mid-Autumn Festival, also affectionately known as the Mooncake Festival, which traditionally marks the end of the autumn harvest. Widely celebrated mainly by Chinese communities, families and friends come together for a meal and moon-watching parties, indulging in seasonal treats like mooncakes and pomelo. Besides, children will have fun playing with all kinds of adorable lanterns, including paper lanterns, plastic lanterns, or battery-operated versions.

Experience the excitement of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinatown, where events like a lantern painting competition and food fairs will take place. Visitors can also spend a wonderful night at Kreta Ayer Square watching fun stage performances. The streets along New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street will also be adorned with stunning lanterns and festive decorations, so be sure to visit and immerse yourself in this traditional Chinese festival! 

9. Deepavali

cultural festivals in Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

When: Oct – Nov 2024

Where: Little India

When in Singapore, another cultural festival not to be missed is undoubtedly the Festival of Lights, Deepavali. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, and Hindu communities across the country decorate their houses with Rangoli or Kolam (colourful rice art) to bring in good luck and welcome the Goddess of Wealth. 

cultural festivals in Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

This festival sees Little India come alive with colourful decorations, enchanting streetlights, as well as stalls selling jewellery, traditional Indian attire, flower garlands, and more. There are also interactive cultural zones where visitors can get temporary henna tattoos and learn more about the celebration and customs of the community through memorable cultural performances.  

The best locations to visit during Deepavali include the magnificent Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, to admire its intricate architecture; as well as the Deepavali Festival Village bazaar where you can get your hands on festive ornamental decorations and seasonal snacks. Alternatively, head to Mustafa Centre for a shopping spree! These places are all situated in Little India. 

Also read: Singapore Night Festival 2023 Guide: Must-See Exhibits and Activities

This sums up our list of the top cultural festivals in Singapore that you should experience at least once! From gorgeous decorations and delectable food to immersing yourself in another culture, explore the Lion City where vibrant activities and cultural diversity await you. For more events you can experience all year round, Visit Singapore.

Brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.