Chinese New Year in Singapore

The year of the Rooster begins on Saturday 28 January. Chinese families in all nations celebrate this colourful and joyous event with big family reunion dinners, heartfelt greetings of “Gongxi” and the gifting “HongBao” (money in red envelopes) to children and younger relatives.

Chinatowns in cities across the globe are also likely to host a parade featuring lion dances and cultural performances.

With 74% of its population ethnic Chinese, Singapore should be the considered the largest Chinatown in the world and is the best place to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It really doesn’t disappoint: this annual cultural extravaganza is celebrated with gusto, the streets throbbing with upbeat Chinese New Year music and markets in every neighbourhood selling festive goodies (you must try the mouth-watering pineapple tarts and coconut egg rolls). If you are visiting this great country during the Chinese New Year period, here are our top 5 things to do.

ChinatownGet down to Chinatown for the biggest festive event of the year
AhLamb / Thinkstock


When Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore in 1819, what was to become Chinatown was little more than a jungle-covered tip of the Malay Peninsula and an area designated for ethnic Chinese. Today, Singapore is a bustling metropolis and Chinatown is where everyone goes to buy Chinese New Year goodies and to soak up the festive atmosphere amidst its lively night market and beautifully restored pre-war shophouses. If you love a good treat, join the long but highly spirited queue outside Lim Chee Guan (203 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059429) or Kim Joo Guan (257 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058806) and get your hands on some Bak Kwa (Chinese pork jerky). One small bite of Bak Kwa and you will instantly understand why the queue is so long. On the eve of the Chinese New Year there is also a big countdown party where local artists perform a medley of festive songs. Firecrackers and fireworks then add sparkle to the flaming night, ushering in the year of the Rooster in style.

Gardens by the BayExperience ‘Dahlia Dreams’ in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Often dubbed as the ‘Futuristic Gardens’, these mesmerising gardens in the heart of Singapore celebrate the Chinese New Year with their first floral display of 2017. This year’s theme is ‘Dahlia Dreams’, and beautiful dahlias and begonias will greet you as you step into the Flower Dome. The display runs from 1 February to 19 February 2017, and you can also join the ‘Ask Me!’ tour to learn about the floral display and fascinating botanical facts.

The River HongbaoRiver Hongbao festival will light up Singapore's Marina Bay

River Hongbao

With the stunning Singapore skyline as its background, the River Hongbao festival held at the Floating Platform at Marina Bay has to be one of the prettiest festivals in the world. Even so, you are likely to ignore the spectacular backdrop and become fixated on the large-scale dazzling lantern displays instead. There’s also Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting and traditional handicrafts booths for culture buffs.

The Chingay ParadeChingay Parade: the largest float parade in Asia

The Chingay Parade

As the largest street performance and float parade in Asia, you can definitely expect many spectacular performances here, including dancing lions, acrobats and stilt walkers along with glittering floats and captivating pyrotechnics displays. Although it is held during the Chinese New Year, this event is celebrated by Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians alike. This year it is held on 10 and 11 February 2017 at the F1 Pit Building.

Festive Feasting - Yusheng Try a festive treat: yusheng

Festive Feasting

You can’t celebrate the Chinese New Year without a sumptuous feast and a “Lo Hei” (prosperity toss). Taking place in many restaurants across town, you’ll be handed “yu sheng” (a big plate of raw fish with plenty of colourful shredded vegetables) and required to toss the salad with your chopsticks – the higher you toss, the more prosperous you will be. When it comes to food, our writers get very excited and our top picks are as follows:

  • Hua Ting, Orchard Hotel (442 Orchard Road, Singapore 238879) from S$68 onwards.
  • Din Tai Fung (various branches), ranging from S$32.80 to S$48.80.
  • Eight Treasures Vegetarian Restaurant (282A South Bridge Road, Singapore 058831); vegetarian “yu sheng” from S$28.80 upwards.
Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.