Festivals in Singapore, Singapore

  • New Year's Day

    • 1 Jan 2014

    The first day of the calendar year is celebrated in Singapore by all races and religions. New Year's Eve is always cause for parties similar to those in the West. Look for special events at restaurants and nightclubs, but don't expect to find a taxi when you need one.

  • Thaipusam Festival

    • 17 Jan 2014
    • If you're lucky enough to be in Singapore during this event, you're in for a bizarre cultural treat. This annual festival is celebrated by Hindus to give thanks to Lord Subramaniam, the child god who represents virtue, youth, beauty, and valor.
    • During Thaipusam, male Hindus who have made prayers to Subramaniam for special wishes must carry kavadis in gratitude. These huge steel racks are decorated with flowers and fruits and are held onto the men's bodies by skewers and hooks that pierce the skin.
    • For an additional spectacle, they will pierce their tongues and cheeks with skewers and hang fruits from hooks in their flesh. The devotees have all undergone strict diet and prayer before the festival, and it is reported that, afterward, no scars remain.
  • Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year

    • 31 Jan 2014–3 Feb 2014

    If you want to catch the biggest event in the Chinese calendar and in Singapore, come during Chinese New Year for parades and festivals.

  • Qing Ming (All Souls' Day)

    • 5 Apr 2014

    Qing Ming, or All Souls' Day, was originally a celebration of spring. On this day, Chinese families have picnics at ancestral graves, cleaning the graves and pulling weeds, lighting red candles, burning joss sticks and "hell money" (paper money that, when burned, ascends to the afterworld to be used by ancestors), and bringing rice, wine, and flowers for the deceased in a show of ancestral piety.

  • Good Friday

    • 18 Apr 2014

    Churches and cathedrals hold special services on this Christian holiday to remember the crucifixion of Christ. St. Joseph's on Victoria Street holds an annual candlelight procession.

  • Vesak Day

    • 13 May 2014
    • Good places to watch the festivities are the Temple of a Thousand Lights in Little India or Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown. On this day, Buddhists will refrain from eating meat, donate food to the poor, and set animals (especially birds) free to show kindness and generosity.
    • It falls on the full moon of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
  • The Great Singapore Sale

    • 30 May 2014–27 Jun 2014

    This is a month-long promotion to increase retail sales, and most shops will advertise huge savings for the entire month. It's well publicized with red banners all over Orchard Road.

  • Singapore World Invitational Dragon Boat Races

    • 2 Jun 2014
    • The annual dragon boat races are held to remember the fate of Qu Yuan, a patriot and poet during the Warring States period in Chinese history (475-221 B.C.) who threw himself into a river to end his suffering at watching his state fall into ruin under the hands of corrupt leadership. The people searched for him in boats shaped like dragons, beating gongs and throwing rice dumplings into the water to distract the River Dragon.
    • Today the dragon boat races are an international event, with rowing teams from up to 20 countries coming together to compete. Drums are still beaten, and rice dumplings are still a traditional favorite.
  • The Singapore Food Festival

    • 11 Jul 2014–20 Jul 2014
    • Local chefs compete for honors in this month-long exhibition of international culinary delights. It's a good time to be eating in Singapore, as restaurants feature the brand-new creations they have entered in the events. Contact the STB.. July.
    • Maulidin Nabi. Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed on this day. Sultan Mosque is the center of the action for Muslims who come to chant in praise.
  • National Day

    • 9 Aug 2014

    On August 9, 1965, Singapore separated from the Federation of Malaysia, becoming an independent republic. Patriotism is celebrated with a big parade held on a floating platform in Marina Bay with live performances, music, and fireworks. Tickets are available only through lottery, so few short-term visitors ever get the chance to see it live.

  • Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

    • 10 Aug 2014
    • The Chinese believe, that once a year, the gates of Purgatory are opened and all the souls inside are let loose to wander among the living. To appease these restless spirits and prevent evil from falling upon themselves, the Chinese burn joss, hell money, and paper replicas of luxury items, the latter two meant to appear in the afterworld for greedy ghosts to use.
    • The main event is on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar and is celebrated with huge feasts. At markets, altars offer mountains of goodies for hungry ghosts as well. Chinese operas are performed throughout the month to entertain the spirits and make them more docile. Nowadays, with Chinese Opera becoming a dying art, a lot of the street performances are karaoke acts.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival

    • 8 Sep 2014
    • Traditionally, it was celebrated to give thanks for a plentiful harvest. The origins date from the Sung Dynasty (A.D. 970-1279), when Chinese officials would exchange round mirrors as gifts to represent the moon and symbolize good health and success.
    • Today the holiday is celebrated by eating moon cakes, which are sort of like little round hockey pucks filled with lotus seed paste or red bean paste and a salted duck egg yolk. Children light colorful plastic or paper lanterns shaped like fish, birds, butterflies, and, more recently, cartoon characters.
    • There's an annual lantern display and competition out at the Chinese Garden, with acrobatic performances, lion dances, and night bazaars.
  • Nine Emperor Gods Festival

    • 23 Sep 2014–3 Oct 2014
    • During this celebration, held over the first 9 days of the ninth month of the lunar calendar (to the Chinese, the double nines are particularly auspicious), temples are packed with worshipers, hawkers sell religious items outside, and Chinese operas are performed for the Nine-Emperor God, a composite of nine former emperors who control the prosperity and health of worshipers.
    • At the height of the festival, priests write prayers with their own blood. On the ninth day, the festival closes as the Nine-Emperor God's spirit, contained in an urn, is sent to sea on a small decorated boat.

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