After our last Christmas-themed article rounding up out-of-the-box gift ideas for expats, Team Expat is on to its next hot topic of the season: what to do. Now, even though we won’t be getting real snow or reindeers in Singapore this December, it doesn’t mean Christmas will be any less exciting. We’ve assembled a list of interesting activities to explore on the little red dot… Plenty to do and much to plan, fellow expats, so start marking your calendars and get ready to paint the town red!
1. See the Christmas On A Great Street setup at Orchard Road
Since the middle of November, Orchard Road has been transformed into a sparkling fairyland when night falls for six weeks. Expect to see millions of glittering lights hanging from decorated trees and arches as you walk along the 2.2-kilometre stretch from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura. Exciting activities have also been planned for the Orchard Road vendors, such as malls and hotels competing for the coveted Best Dressed Building award and street performances.
2. Dance the night away at the Siloso Beach Party
Love electronic music and dancing? Well, word is Siloso Beach would be hosting Singapore’s biggest and only beach countdown party on 31 December, from 6 PM to 6 AM. That’s 12 hours of non-stop electronic music and dancing! With a groovy line-up of local and international DJs, non-stop music, pyrotechnics display and fringe entertainment, there’s no better place to be than among fellow revellers as you bid farewell to 2015 and ring in the New Year. Purchase your tickets here.
3. Join the New Year’s countdown at Marina Bay
If you don’t feel like shelling out money for the Siloso Beach Party, why not join the countdown at Marina Bay instead for a free and contemplative atmosphere? Big white orbs have been placed in the surrounding waters as part of The Wishing Sphere Project, where you can write and express your wishes, hopes and dreams for the year ahead. However, rest assured that it does not mean that the atmosphere will be a sombre one—there will also be live outdoor musical performances, carnivals and waterfront bazaars. To cap things off, at the stroke of midnight, there will be an eight-minute fireworks display to end the year with a bang.
4. Shop at exclusive Christmas pop-up stores
Live in Singapore for a long time, and you’ll know that Christmas means sales aplenty on Orchard Road. But after visiting the same stores for a few years, you’ll yearn for something different. Why not pay a visit to A Secret Christmas by Naiise? Aside from the artisan retail goods and pop-up café, you can participate in interactive walking tours organised with ArchiWalks; a mailbox project titled Pass It On, where you get to draw or write inspirational messages on a postcard to be put on display; and a charity initiative where you can buy locally-designed Christmas cards and donate to the Touch Young Arrows charity at the same time.
5. Stroll along Gardens by the Bay and check out the Christmas Wonderland display
How gorgeous do you think the man-made trees at Gardens by the Bay will look decked out in Christmas lights? From 28 November to 3 January, the waterfront gardens will have Luminarie light sculptures handmade with white wood from Italy, a Blizzard Dome where you can experience snow in Singapore, a Christmas Toyland floral display in the Flower Dome, which features fantastic displays like a Christmas pyramid and a German wooden carousel. If travelling all the way to the gardens to see yet another Christmas lights display doesn’t interest you, get this: There is also a Christmas market, inspired by the markets in London and Paris under the Spiegeltent, a century-old Dutch tent made with wood, canvas and mirrors, from 28 November to 27 December!
6. Swim with Santa and his Elf at S.E.A. Aquarium
The Merry Fishmas event at S.E.A. Aquarium sees Santa trading in his reindeers for marine animals. This family-friendly Christmas-exclusive event consists of various programmes to keep both you and your kids entertained, such as the “12 Days of Fishmas” activity trail where you need to track down the marine animals and answer questions to win prize, special appearances by Santa and his elf in diving suits, and a Fishmas lucky draw. Merry Fishmas takes place from 1 December 2015 to 3 January 2016, so you and your kids are all set for exciting activities till school reopens.
7. Experience Santa’s All-Star Christmas at Universal Studios Singapore
Every year, Universal Studios Singapore will have a special Christmas event, and this year is no different. From 1 December 2015 to 3 January 2016, the theme park will be having a Santa’s All-Star Christmas event, featuring new Christmas-themed programmes such as A Hollywood Christmas Gift Show where toy soldiers will be walking around the park to deliver gifts to ‘nice’ guests, and A Scrooge Christmas Splendour in which Sting Alley will be transformed into 19th century England. If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids over the holidays, you can’t go wrong with an outing at the theme park, but be prepared the queues. Purchase your tickets here.
8. Tuck in at various Christmas-themed buffets and menus
If sightseeing and shopping is not your thing, then there’s only one thing left to do: Eat, drink and be merry! Christmas is one of the few times in the year when you get to indulge in specially prepared (and expensive) course meals and buffets consisting of roasted meats such as turkey, ham, goose; Christmas pudding; Christstollen, a fruitcake with bits of candied fruits, raisins, nuts, and spices; gingerbread houses; mulled wine, chocolate yule log, and minced pies—the list is endless, so make sure your stomach is, too. Bear in mind that you probably should make your reservations early, as you’ll be competing with the local foodies and tourists who are visiting Singapore for the limited places.
9. Get into the festive spirit by joining carollers
What would Christmas be without Christmas carols? Many would agree that whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no better way to get into the festive mood than listening to a choir performance of “Silent Night” or “Deck the Hall”—unless you’re part of the choir! If you attend Sunday mass, check to see if your church will be holding a mass carolling on Christmas Eve and ask if you can join in—just make sure you can carry a tune well. Alternatively, you can watch and sing along with the carollers from the sidelines at popular celebration spots like Orchard Road, Raffles Hotel, Gardens by the Bay, and Clarke Quay.
10. Watch a retelling of Cinderella with Cinderella, A Fairly True Story
Mention Cinderella and the first thing that comes to mind is a girl went to a ball and danced with the Prince, only to lose her slipper when she tries to leave before the clock strikes midnight. Well, you would be almost right, which is the premise of Cinderella, A Fairly True Story. The acclaimed creators of last year’s Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, put a refreshing spin on the classic fairy tale, where a reporter inspires Cinderella to take control of her own destiny instead. Featuring an international cast, original music and popular hits, dynamic choreography, and gorgeous settings, this is a musical you won’t want to miss. Purchase your tickets here.
We think we’ve covered much of the excitement Christmas will bring us in Singapore. But If you have any other exciting Christmas must-do’s in Singapore to fill us in with that we may have missed, we’d love to hear them. Happy holidays!