Things to do in Singapore during Chinese New Year

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Things to Do on Chinese New Year in Singapore: Celebrations and Activities Guide

So, you have planned your trip to Singapore during the Chinese New Year?

This year, 2024, is a dragon year.

As a local, I can say that this is the quietest time in Singapore because most residents are either celebrating the visit to their relatives or going back to their hometown (for long-term foreign residents).

Chinatown Chinese New Year light-up 2024. The enchanting Chinatown Chinese New Year street light-up will be displayed from now to 9 March 2024 by @junkang_98

I understand the mix of excitement and uncertainty of planning a trip to Singapore during the Lunar New Year.

Trust me, I’ve been there. My first Chinese New Year in the city threw me for a loop—I was wandering around, wondering where all the bustling crowds had disappeared and why it seemed like a Herculean task to find a spot for Chinese cuisine.

Yes, I know, I know, the question that popped up in your mind is like:

‘Do the attractions open during CNY in Singapore?’

‘What should we do if Singapore is quiet during Chinese New Year?’

But you know what? After celebrating several Lunar’s New Year’s here, I’ve got the hang of it.

I’ve become a pro at navigating the festive season, knowing exactly where to go, what to savor, and how to soak in the festivities.

If this is your first time experiencing Chinese New Year in Singapore, you might be scratching your head, feeling like you’re not getting the complete, vibrant picture you were sold.

But let me tell you, Singapore during this time is a different kind of special. Sure, your go-to Chinese eateries might be closed, but that’s the perfect excuse to dive into the rich flavors of Malay, Indian, and even Western dishes that are very much available.

Don’t worry; I made this Things to Do on Chinese New Year in Singapore guide to help you. I will walk you through what to expect and how to make every moment of your visit count.

Do you have questions?

Just hit me up in the comments. Now, let’s get started!


Got any queries about your Singapore travel adventures?

Come on over to the Singapore For Everyone Facebook group.
I’ll be hanging out there, ready to help you out with answers!

When Is Chinese New Year in Singapore?

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is an annual event based on the lunar calendar.

In 2024, Chinese New Year falls on the 10th – 11th of February (Saturday and Sunday).

However, the festive period usually lasts 15 days, with the most significant celebrations and public holidays occurring during the first three days (10th – 12th February 2024).

During this time, Singapore comes alive with colorful decorations, festive spirits, and various events.

If you’re planning to travel to Singapore, here’s a brief overview of the public holidays and key events you can expect during these 15 days:

  • Day 1 (10th February 2024): The first day of the Chinese New Year in Singapore is marked by family gatherings, reunion dinners, and magnificent fireworks displays. Shops, offices, and many tourist attractions may be closed.
  • Day 2 (11th February 2024): The second day of the New Year is mainly characterized by visits to relatives and friends and indulging in delicious festive treats. Some local businesses and attractions might still be closed.
  • Day 3 (12th February 2024): This is the third day of the celebrations, also known as “Red Dog Day. ” It’s less auspicious, and many Singaporeans take this opportunity to pray and ask for good fortune in the coming year.

From my experience, all the major shopping malls, the iconic Chinatown, and various tourist attractions are usually decorated and lively during this festive period.

However, many local businesses and smaller establishments may be closed, especially during the first two days of the Chinese New Year in Singapore.

Therefore, I’d recommend planning and making reservations if you have specific attractions or activities in mind.


How Do Locals Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Lunar New Year is an essential time in Singapore when families come together to participate in various traditional activities.

As a local, I’ve experienced these celebrations first-hand’d like to share some insights with you.

Yu Sheng - Prosperity Toss in Singapore

Reunion Dinner is perhaps the most significant CNY celebration event. Families gather for a sumptuous feast on the eve of the New Year, where delicacies like bak kwayu sheng, and steamed fish are enjoyed.

Bakwa Singapore Pork Jerky

I always look forward to this dinner, as it’s a time to reconnect with my loved ones and indulge in scrumptious food.

Spring cleaning becomes a priority in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year in Singapore. We believe cleaning our homes helps sweep away any bad luck from the previous year and make way for good fortune.

I find it therapeutic and a great way to declutter my living space.

Chinese New Year Ang Pao

The exchange of red packets is a popular custom during this festive period. These small envelopes containing money are given to children and unmarried relatives by married couples and elders, symbolizing blessings and good luck.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found joy in giving red packets to my younger relatives.

Pineapple Tart Singapore

To welcome good fortune and prosperity into our homes, we also prepare a variety of festive treats. Pineapple tarts and cookies are popular options, and I love to bake them with my family.

They fill our homes with delightful smells and make thoughtful gifts for friends and relatives.

Prosperity_toss_during_Chinese_New_Year - Yu Sheng

One of my favorite New Year dishes is yu sheng, a colorful, raw fish salad typically shared during a meal. It’s believed that tossing the salad together while saying auspicious phrases will bring good luck, and I find the entire practice enjoyable and positive.

Lastly, the lion dance is a must-see event during CNY. This traditional performance involves dancers in vibrant, elaborate costumes performing energetic dance routines, often accompanied by drum beats.

Lunar New Year Celebrations - Lion Dance SIngapore
Lion Dance during Chinese New Year in Singapore

It’s believed that watching a lion dance can dispel bad spirits and bring fortune. As a local, it’s always a captivating spectacle, and I highly encourage you to partake in this experience during your visit to Singapore.

In summary, celebrating Chinese New Year in Singapore is vibrant and full of customs that unite families. From reunion dinners to exchanging red packets, you’ll find many traditional activities unique to this festive period.


Where to Go During Chinese New Year in Singapore?

As a Singapore local and avid traveler, I always enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere during Chinese New Year.

There are several must-visit destinations during this festive time, and here are my recommendations.

Chinatown SIngapore during Lunar New Year

Chinatown is the heart of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The streets transform into a palette of red and gold, with lanterns lighting up the night, making it a fantastic place to soak in the festive spirit.

You can also find numerous vendors selling festive goodies and decorations.

Check out the Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival for an immersive experience.

Gardens By The Bay - Lunar Chinese New Year

Gardens by the Bay is another excellent destination during the Chinese New Year period. The renowned garden will showcase beautiful themed floral displays, so this is a must-visit if you’re a fan of horticulture and art.

Besides, it offers a breathtaking city view and is a perfect spot for Instagram-worthy pictures.

CNY at Marina Bay

A trip to Marina Bay is a fantastic idea during the Chinese New Year in Singapore, especially for events like River Hongbao and the awe-inspiring fireworks display.

The stunning waterfront view complements the festivities, making it a memorable experience.

Here’s a quick list of other destinations to visit during Chinese New Year in Singapore:

  • Sentosa Island: Enjoy a fun-filled day at Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, and other attractions. Remember that it may be crowded during this period, so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Haji Lane: For a unique blend of cultures, head to Haji Lane. It’s a trendy area with hip shops, cafes, and colorful murals.
  • MacRitchie Reservoir: If you’re seeking tranquility amidst the celebrations, visit MacRitchie Reservoir for a nature walk or hike amidst lush greenery.

In summary, Singapore offers diverse destinations and activities to experience during the Chinese New Year period. Plan and enjoy each location’s unique offerings to make the most of your trip.


Best Time to Travel to Singapore for Chinese New Year

The best time to travel to Singapore for Lunar New Year is about a week before the day.

This is when the festive atmosphere starts to build up, and you’ll have ample time to witness the preparations, explore the bustling markets, and enjoy special performances in various neighborhoods.

Here’s a brief overview of what to expect during this time:

  • Peak Season: The peak travel season for Chinese New Year in Singapore typically begins a week or two before the actual day and lasts until a few days after the new year.
    During this period, be prepared for larger crowds and possible price hikes at hotels and car rentals.
  • Hotels: It’s crucial to book your Singapore accommodations early, as hotels tend to fill up fast, and prices may increase due to higher demand.
    I recommend checking for discounts or deals online, as you might find some fantastic offers to help offset the costs.
  • Car Rental and Uber: Car rental prices might increase during this time, but fret not; public transport in Singapore is very efficient and convenient.
    I highly recommend using the MRT, buses, taxis, and Grab (the local equivalent of Uber) instead of renting a car, as traffic can be pretty congested during the festive period.
  • Decorations: Singapore is well-known for its beautiful decorations during Chinese New Year.
    A week before the celebration, various neighborhoods will be decorated with stunning lanterns, floral arrangements, and other festive adornments.
    Don’t miss out on visiting iconic locations like Chinatown, Marina Bay, and Gardens by the Bay to witness the spectacular displays.

I hope this information helps you plan your trip to Singapore during the Chinese New Year period.

Book early, embrace the festive atmosphere, and enjoy this vibrant city’s unique experiences.


Festive Events and Celebrations

When Chinese New Year rolls around, Singapore bursts into a symphony of colors, joyous festivities, and cultural vibrancy.

I’ve personally experienced the electric atmosphere, and trust me, it’s something you wouldn’t want to miss.

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinatown’s Chinese New Year Celebration is a spectacle of traditions and festive splendor.

I remember walking through streets adorned with bright lanterns and mesmerizing by the stunning fireworks display lit up the sky.

For anyone looking to soak in the cultural essence of Singapore, this is the place to be.


Chingay Parade at the F1 Pit Building

Next, the Chingay Parade is an explosion of music, dance, and costumes that vividly captures the spirit of Singapore’s multicultural society.

Chingay Parade Singapore by @chingayparadesg
Chingay Parade Singapore by @chingayparadesg
Embrace the Vibrance of Chingay 2024 by @frozen_moments_by_senthil
Embrace the vibrance of Chingay 2024 by @frozen_moments_by_senthil

Attending it gave me chills with performers from various communities showcasing electrifying parades filled with elaborate floats at the F1 Pit Building.


River Hongbao at Gardens By The Bay

Gardens By The Bay’s River Hongbao is another event not to be missed. It combines traditional and modern elements in a celebration that I found both grand and heartwarming.

春到河畔2024 River Hongbao 2024 by @yeenling_chong
春到河畔2024 River Hongbao 2024 by @yeenling_chong

It’s a family-friendly affair. The lantern displays, and local snack stalls create a festive mood that bonds crowds with shared cheer.


Countdown Party Experiences

Ending the Chinese New Year festivities with a Countdown Party is a tradition I’ve always enjoyed. It’s a night where live music and countdown fireworks create a collective anticipation for the year ahead.

CNY Countdown Fireworks

There’s a palpable sense of hope and excitement; being part of that moment feels incredibly special.

HighlightDetails
Chinatown CelebrationsLanterns, Fireworks, Traditional Ambiance
Chingay ParadeMulticultural Performances, Costumes, Floats
River HongbaoLantern Displays, Snack Stalls, Festive Mood
Countdown PartyLive Music, Fireworks, Celebration of Hope

While these events are the heart and soul of Chinese New Year in Singapore, they also remind me that while traditions form the backbone of our celebrations, the people and their shared joy truly bring each festivity to life.

Below is the complete details of the Chinese New Year 2024 event:

Festive Fair @ People’s Park
When: 
11 January – 9 February 2024, 10 am – 10 pm
Where: Open space in front of People’s Park Complex

Festive Fair
When: 
19 January – 9 February 2024, 10 am – 10 pm
Where: Sago Street, Smith Street, Temple Street, Trengganu Street and Pagoda Street

Lion Dance Competition
When: 
27 & 28 January 2024, 6 pm
Where: Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre

Countdown Party
When: 
9 February 2024, 10 pm
Where: Kreta Ayer Square


The Dragon Awakens: Drone Lightshow

The Dragon Awakens light show at Marina Bay Sands is a spectacular event in Singapore to celebrate the Chinese New Year in 2024, the Year of the Dragon.

This dazzling spectacle featured an array of lights and was complemented by a drone performance that illuminated the night sky above the iconic Marina Bay waterfront.

“The complimentary show was scheduled to occur at 8 p.m. on select February dates, specifically on the 6th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, and 18th.”

The performance was designed to draw on the legend of the dragon gate, a theme resonant with the symbolism of the Chinese New Year and the mythical creature’s significance in Asian culture.

The dragon is often associated with power, strength, and good fortune, and this light show was a creative and modern interpretation that celebrated these traditional beliefs.

By @mrin.maya9 x @singaporeforeveryone

The event was a visual feast and a narrative experience, telling a story inspired by the Dragon Gate legend through the choreographed movements of light and drones. Following the drone spectacle, the audience could enjoy “Spectra – A Light & Water Show,” which added another layer of enjoyment to the evening’s festivities.

Festive Exhibitions and Decor

When Chinese New Year rolls around in Singapore, the city transforms with vibrant floral displays, mainly showcasing the season’s most stunning flowers.

As someone who has strolled through these exquisite exhibitions, let me take you on a visual journey through some of the city’s most beautiful floral showcases.

Dahlia Dreams at Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay always mesmerizes me with its enchanting displays, and the Dahlia Dreams exhibition is no exception. Stepping inside the Flower Dome, one is greeted by a spectacular view of elaborate dahlia arrangements.

Dahlia Dreams in Flower Dome by @msshellahag
Dahlia Dreams in Flower Dome by @msshellahag

Dahlia Dreams features a variety of dahlias, chrysanthemums, and pussy willows, all meticulously cared for and presented in a way that captures the essence of the Lunar New Year.

Dahlia Dreams by @msshellahag

always captivated by the vivid colors and intricate details of the flowers, which make for perfect photo opportunities.

  • Main Flowers: Dahlias, Chrysanthemums
  • Special Features: Pussy willows, themed decorations
  • My Rating: 9/10 — for its impressive variety and creative displays

Remember, experiences may vary, and displays change annually, but these floral exhibits remain a highlight for anyone visiting Singapore during the festive period.

While the Dahlias are an annual delight, the additional decorations ensure there’s always something new to capture one’s imagination.

Dragons Awaken in Marina Bay Sands

The centerpiece of the festivities will take place at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands’ Grand Colonnade, where attendees will witness the grand reveal of two stunning 40-meter dragons in the presence of an impressive 15-meter tall Dragon’s Gate.

Aquamarine Dragons in Marina Bay Sands Shoppes
40-meter dragons in the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall
A close-up look at the dragon.

Adorned in mesmerizing hues of aquamarine, teal, and purple, these sculptures weave a story of resilience leading to wealth, reflecting the enduring Chinese myth ‘The Legend of the Dragon Gate.’

The contemporary take on this classic legend is further enhanced by the display of 88 koi fish embellishments, a shimmering dragon’s pearl, and 28 radiant lotus lanterns.

Dragon Lantern in Chinatown Street Light-Up

The Chinatown Street Light-Up will illuminate the area from January 19 to March 9, 2024, with lights aglow from 7 pm until midnight.

The neighborhood will be festooned with vibrant lanterns and dragon sculptures, celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Streer Performance by the Old Folks on top of the Pagoda Bridge
Zumba dance by the old folks
Decorations of CNY in Chinatown Singapore.

In addition to the street illumination and decorations, festivities will include a holiday market, weekly stage performances, and a New Year’s Eve countdown celebration!

For those eager to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit, Chinatown offers several spots to visit during the Chinese New Year period.

A Grand Dragpn Lantern in Chinatown Singapore.

The main attraction is a grand dragon lantern at Upper Cross Street and New Bridge Road intersect.

This impressive display features the dragon clutching its pearl, suspended over a treasure of gold ingots, coins, orange trees, and snapdragon blossoms, representing Singapore’s flourishing wealth and prosperity.


Shopping and Souvenirs

When celebrating Chinese New Year in Singapore, I always look forward to the shopping and the abundance of souvenirs that come with it. It’s a bustling time when you can find festive markets teeming with traditional goods and unique gifts that embody the spirit of the holiday.

Festive Market in Chinatown

Every year, I make it a point to visit the Festive Street Market in Chinatown. It’s like a treasure trove for Chinese New Year shopping.

the crowd rushing to get their Chinese New Year goodies, at Chinese New Year festive market, along the narrow street of Chinatown, Singapore - by @vincentphotogram
Chinatown Street Market by @vincentphotogram
Chinatown Street Market is very crowded during festive period
Typical shops in Chinatown

The market stalls are decked out with bright red lanterns and filled with everything from decorative items to festive wear. Here’s a glance at what you can expect:

  • Decorations: Red and gold ornaments symbolizing prosperity.
  • Clothing: Traditional cheongsams and tunics with modern twists.
  • Snacks: Rows of stalls selling the famous pineapple tarts and other goodies.

If you’re after the real atmosphere of the New Year, this is where you can soak it all in. Amidst the hustle, you do have to be prepared for big crowds and a bit of jostling, but the energy here is unmatched.

Unique Gifts and Red Packet Stores

Getting the right gifts and red packets (hóngbāo) is crucial for Chinese New Year in Singapore.

Hong Bao or ANg Pao in Chinatown Street Market
Chinese New Year decoration is sold in Chinatown Street Market

Several Unique Gifts and Red Packet Stores offer various options perfect for friends and family in Singapore. Here’s what catches my eye:

  • Creative red packets: From classic designs to contemporary art—there is plenty to choose from.
  • Customizable gifts: There is no shortage of stores where you can add a personal touch to gifts.
Chinatown CNY Street Market by @theswechchhadixit

While online stores are convenient, there’s nothing like selecting these personal items up close. The only downside might be the overwhelming variety, which can make choosing just one or two a real challenge!

Below is a quick summary table for reference:

LocationItems to Look Out ForMy Experience
Vast selection can be hard to choose, but great for personalized gifts.Decorations, Clothing, SnacksCrowded but vibrant and full of festive spirit.
Unique Gifts and Red Packet StoresRed Packets, Customizable GiftsVast selection, can be hard to choose, but great for personalized gifts.

Remember, shopping during Chinese New Year in Singapore is not just about what you buy; it’s about the experience and the memories you create. So, embrace the bustle and have fun picking out the perfect items to celebrate the occasion!


Mythology and Zodiac

As someone who revels in the rich tapestry of Chinese New Year traditions, I always find the intertwining of mythology and zodiac to be a captivating aspect of the celebrations in Singapore.

These deep-rooted stories add meaning to the festivities, and understanding them enhances the experience.

Chinese Zodiac Exhibits

Chinese Zodiac Exhibits in Jurong Point Mall

Did you know each Chinese New Year is linked to one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac?

The Chinese New Year in 2024 will mark the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. In Chinese culture, the dragon symbolizes power, strength, good luck, and wisdom. It’s a celestial and divine creature that brings prosperity and good fortune.

Chinese Zodiac Exhibits in Suntec City Mall

The Year of the Dragon is particularly special because the dragon is the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac, setting it apart from all other zodiac animals that are real-world creatures.

Chinese Zodiac Exhibits in Marina Bay Sands Shoppes

Experiencing these displays, it’s easy to see how mythology and zodiac signs are a bedrock of New Year festivities. They’re educational and a blast to explore—just be prepared for crowds trying to capture that perfect shot with the zodiac figures! Here’s what I suggest packing:

  • Camera: For the vibrant zodiac displays and colorful characters.
  • Comfy Shoes: There’s usually a lot of walking involved.
  • Patience: Especially if you’re eager to snap pics without the throngs of people.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve gathered some of the most commonly asked questions about enjoying Chinese New Year in Singapore based on my experiences and what I’ve learned from locals and fellow travelers.

What are the best areas to visit in Singapore that remain open during the Chinese New Year?

During Chinese New Year, you can expect most tourist attractions and shopping malls to remain open. It’s a great time to explore vibrant areas like Chinatown and Marina Bay.
As a resident, I highly recommend visiting Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa Island for a fun family day out.

Can travelers expect closures of major attractions in Singapore during the Chinese New Year?

Most major attractions in Singapore, such as Universal Studios and Singapore Zoo, remain open during Chinese New Year.
However, some smaller establishments or attractions might be closed.
For the latest updates, it’s best to check the official websites of venues you’d like to visit.

Where can one experience traditional Chinese New Year festivities in Singapore?

One of the best places to experience traditional festivities is Chinatown, with its lively street markets, cultural performances, and beautiful light displays. As a local, I always look forward to the annual River Hongbao, a cultural extravaganza held at Gardens Bay The Bay.

Can you recommend any Chinese New Year street fairs or markets in Singapore?

Absolutely! Take a walk down to the festive streets around Chinatown for a diverse array of stalls.
From trinkets to traditional clothing, these markets allow you to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and find some unique souvenirs to take home.

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