Chinese New Year doesn't have to be painful. Immerse yourself in festival vibes without seeing red.

Jingyi Low  |  Singapore
Published 2015-02-13 12:00:11

Everyone knows what Chinese New Year is usually like: stuck in your relatives’ house scarfing down pineapple tarts, and making small talk with people you only meet once a year. But Chinese New Year doesn’t have to be the same Every. Single. Year.

Get ready to have your mind blown, because here are 8 things you could do during Chinese New Year in Singapore that could change the way you celebrate this festive holiday forever.

#1 Follow the lights to River Hongbao

I have never actually attended the River Hongbao before, but it is one of the most anticipated carnivals in the local Lunar New Year festival scene. The Straits Times reported that in commemoration of SG50, this year’s River Hongbao is definitely not one to miss.

It will be held at The Float@Marina Bay. They will pull out all the stops – fireworks, acrobatics, art exhibitions, local food, customized daily programmes, and fireworks – to dazzle and amaze, kind of like a psychedelic Willy Wonka’s Factory.

Artist's impression of the upcoming River Hongbao (Image Credit: River Hongbao 2015)
Artist’s impression of the upcoming River Hongbao (Image Credit: River Hongbao 2015)

#2 Snap selfies with spring flowers

Why not drop by the Flower Dome at the Gardens by the Bay for some downtime away from deafening firecrackers and high-pitched carols? Having spent some time inside the refurbished Flower Dome in the past week, the garden manages to retain its Chinese New Year festivities while having the polar opposite ambiance of Chinatown.

Enjoy great performances by local acts (no, not lion dances), and some great arts and crafts for the entire family.

#3 Feast on Chinatown food & festivities

Is Grandma insisting you experience something remotely Chinese? Hop over to Momma Kong’s Crab Shack or one of Chinatown’s hipster cafes before the Lunar New Year countdown. Try the mantou that comes fried or steamed – I recommend the former, which are about the size of your fist and worth every scrumptious bite.

Image Credit: Great New Places
Image Credit: Great New Places

#4 Bask in Feng and Shui at Sentosa

Get away from the urban crowd and into the waters of Sentosa. You can leave the kids at Port of Lost Wonder who have their own line up of activities to entertain the kids, while the adult crew can chill out at the Wavehouse with a hot grill and ingredients already prepared for you.

Definitely an option for the cool kids.

Image Credit: Good Home Ideas
Image Credit: Good Home Ideas

#5 Walk down memory lane

This is definitely not for shopaholics or foodies. A trip with local guides on Red Clogs Down the Five-Foot-Way™ explores the rich history of Chinatown behind the red lanterns and golden goats along Chinatown.

Yes the fragrant bak kwa and silk cheongsams may be calling out to you, but leave aside your material wants for this day! You know some quality time with your grandparents and visiting relatives is overdue when you’re itching to escape from the awkwardness at home.

#6 Get cultured at the Chinese Festival of Arts

The Chinese Arts Festival only begins on 20 February, which does not really fall under the first  day of the Lunar New Year, but why not make your plans in advance? This festival is for those #TGIF partygoers who want some music and dance on a Friday night, but are stuck with their extended family.

Featuring mandopop to traditional chinese orchestras, theatre to arts and crafts, this 10 day festival will give you something to tap along to, all while your elders hold onto your arm for support.

Up for some Chinese New Year controversy anyone? (Image Credit: Sistic)
Up for some Chinese New Year controversy anyone? (Image Credit: Sistic)

#7 Drink in the prosperity

Collected your angbao money and can’t wait to spend it? Plan a gathering with your friends at one of Singapore’s best kept secrets. Bars like Bitters & Love serve up some radical drinks that could blow a hole in your pocket, but hey, excess is best in this season right? Ding Dong also has their own rendition of a “Pi Pa Gao” drink, complete with a satisfying burn to clear that sore throat of yours.


Just pray for good fengshui on your side of the mahjong table the nights after.

Kaya Toast Cocktail comes with actual kaya toast (Image Credit: The Straits Times)
Kaya Toast Cocktail comes with actual kaya toast (Image Credit: The Straits Times)

#8 DIY Grandma’s very own shark

If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic by now, why not stay in and hold a cozy mini-concert at home? Note this is rated G for pure family-friendly fun.

Drape blankets over the heads of your little cousins and watch them dance around the house pretending to be lion dancers: a fraction of the cost of the real thing, and twice the entertainment value. As Grandma sings her karaoke renditions of chinese folk songs, your DIY lion dancers could be her hype-girls.

Lion dancers for sharks? (Image Credit: Vulture)

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