As expats living in Singapore, there is so make to take in and learn about the different cultures and festivals! Here are some of our favourite events that we recommend checking out to experience the very best of Singaporean culture:
The lion dance at Chinese New Year. The Lion dance troupes perform in offices, shops and temples around the island to ward off bad luck—symbolised by Nian—and usher in prosperity. A Chinese New Year without the gong-gong-chang! of the dance would be unthinkable.
With its colourful traditions, the two day annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam, is celebrated in honour of Lord Subramaniam (also known as Lord Murugan), who represents virtue, youth and power, and is the destroyer of evil.
Shop up a storm at the Great Singapore Sale which happens around May to July. During this time, there are up to 70 percent discounts!
Festivities for Vesak Day begin at the crack of dawn in Singapore, as devout Buddhists congregate at temples for a ceremony. This is when the Buddhist flag is hoisted, and hymns are sung in praise of the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (his disciples).
Thumping drumbeats and delicious dumplings are the exciting ingredients that make the Dragon Boat Festival a sizzler of a festival in Singapore. In Singapore, a festive atmosphere rules as participants pull furiously on their oars, leaders beat their drums, flags are waved and spectators cheer on their favourite teams. It is vigorous action, tragic history and thrilling camaraderie, blended into one compelling and exciting two day event!
You know you are witnessing the lead-up to the country’s National Day when the island starts turning a particular shade of red and white – largely from the flags fluttering from buildings, houses and even cars. From fireworks to food galore, Singapore’s National Day delivers festivities that are a must see!
Occuring every September is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which marks the end of the autumn harvest. When night falls, families gather in places like Chinatown and Chinese Garden to feast on mooncakes, a traditional pastry which comes in a variety of flavours while children carry and parade their lanterns with their families and friends.
Marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is the festival of Eid, known in Singapore as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Hari Raya meal, you’ll find a wide variety of dishes on offer – beef ‘rendang’ (spicy beef stew), ‘sayur lodeh’ (vegetables cooked in coconut milk gravy) and ‘sambal’ (chilli paste) – along with fluffy white rice and ‘ketupat’ (rice cakes).
The Festival of Lights commonly known as Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus across the world to mark the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. This colourful, lively extravaganza is best experienced in Little India, where the streets are lined with beautiful lights. There are tons of bazaars too, so get ready to shop, try authentic Indian fare and take amazing photos of the street light-ups.
For six weeks every year, Orchard Road is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, as majestic arches and millions of glittering lights line the streets for 2.88 kilometres, from Tanglin Mall all the way to Plaza Singapura. It’s the time of year when this iconic boulevard is at its most enchanting, with dazzling lights, gorgeous colours and a unique collection of interactive set displays. Expect the usual shopping delights of Orchard Road but with a seasonal twist, and street-side activities with festive pop-up stores and roaming performers – there’s plenty of fun to be had for everyone!
Watch the lighting of the candles on Orchard Road for Hannukah. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish celebration commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights, and this year, Hanukkah is celebrated on December 12-20.
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