Celebrated from 3rd February to 10th February at the NS Square, the Marina Bay Sands floating platform in Singapore, the River Hongbao Festival is an iconic event which marks the tradition of Singapore’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
What is the concept of a Lunar New Year?
The Lunar New Year is basically the Chinese New Year which is also called the Spring Festival. This is the most important event in the Chinese calendar and since the population of Singapore is mainly Chinese, it is celebrated with much spirit in Singapore and is a treat for the tourists and the locals as well. Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are coordinated by the cycles of the moon. The relevant calendar may be a purely lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar.
The River Hongbao Festival started in 1987 and has been celebrated since, and depicts a good mix of the new and old traditions which have been followed in the Chinese culture. The Chinese Zodiac which is an integral part is of primal importance and basis of the entire festival. The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. The 12-year cycle is an approximation to the 11.85 years orbital period of Jupiter, the largest planet of the Solar System.
A festival like this involves the visual sense in its highest form. A visual treat is ensured if you were to visit Singapore in these times. Singapore as a country in itself has never failed to deliver when it comes to awe, colour and splendour. With River Hongbao, it’s no different. The people make the greatest efforts to make the viewer engage in the experience completely.
There are the biggest lanterns hung all around NS Square and arranged in the most spectacular manner ever. Usually, there are over 500 lanterns made by 35 craftsmen from Sichuan, China. The colour leaves the viewer zapped and in awe of the magnanimity of the whole event. During the event, visitors also get a glimpse of the giant figure of the Chinese God of Fortune, which stands at 18m - taller than the height of three full-grown giraffes stacked one on top of the other.
Most of the people indulge themselves in the impeccable Food Street and the zodiac predictions which are being done all over the street and engage themselves in the briefs of time travel that they get with these predictions. Another important treat that awaits the tourists is the fireworks show which is done. Fireworks are always an attraction for all ages and definitely, there is no celebration which can be complete without some lively burst of firecrackers to put up an incredible show.
There has recently opened an indoor exhibition also at the River Hongbao Festival which shows full-sized displays of a kampung house, an old Housing Board flat and a modern home dining area. The exhibition details the experience of a fictitious character "Chun Sheng” and his changing experiences of Chinese New Year in Singapore over the years.
Other well-loved and appreciated events of the festival include the food street which has the classic Chinese cuisine and the typical Singaporean food as well. This is a journey for the palate too and one can definitely get some finger licking stuff.
The Chinese culture is one of myth and legend and a lot of us hardly know about it. Visiting the River Hongbao Festival would definitely enlighten one about the Chinese culture in the most interesting of ways. The whole thing is a wholesome experience and one which can’t be missed.
For the young travellers and photographers going to Singapore, this would be the best opportunity to get quality content for your social media handles as the entire scene is well lit. So, a lot of photo shoots can be done in and around the place. Also, the food bloggers can join the bandwagon as the entire event is a journey for the palate as well.
The River Hongbao Festival is famous among the locals but for people looking for the perfect timing to go to Singapore, they can go during this time as this event is a bit unconventional and will definitely guarantee a much broader insight into the country’s culture and its people. It would also be like an extra cherry-on-the-top element for your trip alongside all the famous and mainstream attractions of Singapore.