The Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is one of the biggest festive holidays on the Singapore calendar, with two days of public holidays. Taking place on 8 and 9 February this year, many shops and restaurants take breaks during this period so you’ll notice way less crowds than usual. They might be operating on reduced hours on 7 February, the eve of Chinese New Year, too. This doesn't mean there's nothing for you to do though – here are six places you can head to if you find yourself at loose ends!
Parks and Gardens
Singapore’s beautiful parks and gardens are open all year round, so why not make a trip down when the malls are closed to have a gander? The iconic Gardens by the Bay will be open throughout the Chinese New Year period, including the Cooled Conservatories. The Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s first and only UNESCO heritage site, is a lush green lung that retains its quiet, old world charm. Pack a picnic basket, because the restaurants will either be closed or operating on reduced hours from 7 to 9 February.
The wildlife parks are bucking the trend, and instead of winding down for the festive season, they’re gearing up for more visitors than ever with special events and performances! Make your way to the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari or Jurong Bird Park to enjoy mesmerising lion dance performances, cute mascot appearances, Chinese zodiac fortunes and more. The animals aren’t left out of the seasonal fun either. They’ll be given special festive treats, and visitors who are there during their feeding times can witness pandas, leopards, gibbons, tapirs, otters and more dig into their tasty goodies. For the exact details, see here.
“Istana” means palace in Malay, and it’s the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. In 2016, the grounds will be open to the public for only five days throughout the year and the second day of Chinese New Year (9 February) is one of them. Entry is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, but all other visitors only need to pay a nominal fee of $2. For another $4, you can tour selected rooms in the Istana building. Even if you choose not to enter the Istana, there will be plenty of engaging performances happening on the grounds during the Open House, so you definitely won’t lack for entertainment.
Universal Studios Singapore
As with the wildlife parks, Universal Studios Singapore gears up for the Lunar New Year. Apart from enjoying the usual rides and mascot appearances, there are two special events that will take place at USS: the Hollywood Dreams Parade™ and Lake Hollywood Spectacular®. Characters from Madagascar, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park and Shrek will come alive for the Hollywood Dreams Parade™, while a brilliant fireworks show set to enthralling music will end your night at USS with a bang.
Karaoke originated in Japan, but the love of it has spread like wildfire – and Singapore has not been spared. What excuse do you need to belt out your favourite songs at the top of your voice? Hardly any, right? Singaporeans love singing karaoke with friends and family over the Lunar New Year period. Head on down to any of the Kbox, Teo Heng or Party World KTV outlets, but be sure to call ahead and book as it’s going to be a busy period. Outlet locations are also available on their respective websites.
Apart from karaoke, gambling is another way many Singaporeans spend their Chinese New Year. Apart from mahjong, card games such as poker and dai di (deuces) are also staples of the CNY home gaming scene. If you don’t have a pack of cards with you though, the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands are open 24 hours a day. Do stick to the dress code though, and gamble responsibly!