Beat Your Culture Shock With The Best Festivals in Singapore



Moving to Singapore comes with excitement, anticipation and possibly confusion about what to expect from your new neighbourhood. You’re an expatriate living in a foreign land and you perhaps know nothing to very little about the local culture. The best way to understand the locals is to witness a few of the local festivals in order to better understand their culture, customs and historical identity.  

While Google will be your new best friend when searching for community events, remember to ask the local grocer or corner store operator – as well as your new work colleagues – what the best festivals are and plan to attend as many as you can. Luckily, there is an extensive line-up of various Singaporean celebrations that occur throughout the year. For the socially minded, this captivating country holds many opportunities for mingling with expats and locals alike in the intoxicating atmosphere of a cultural festival.

Plan Your Festival Itinerary

Before you begin your international move to Singapore, research some festival dates so you have something to look forward to. Having an exciting adventure to look forward to can even help take your mind off the fact you’re leaving friends and family behind. There are plenty of celebrations to choose from so it should be easy to find one you’re interested in.

At the start of the calendar year, the first event is Chinese New Year. The exact date changes each year because it is determined by the lunar cycle; it usually falls between the second half of January and the first half of February. In Singapore, the day is celebrated with a festival called the River Hongbao on the Float @ Marina Bay. The vibrant sights and sounds will astound onlookers, while the event – brimming with street performances, gigantic lantern displays and amusement rides – is an excellent opportunity to try local street food.

Around the same time as the Chinese lunar New Year, the Hindu festival of Thaipusam also takes place. The festivities include a parade that usually starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, built in the Dravidian style for interested architectural buffs, and ends at the Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. This festival has become an attraction for many visitors due to the religious practices performed during the two-day event. Devotees to the Hindu faith may be seen piercing their cheeks with metal needles or carrying the ceremonial Kavadi, which is an offering to their beloved deity Sri Murugan.

A Colourful Calendar of Events

On the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, dragonboat races entertain crowds in many of the local Singapore bays and rivers. Even if you’re not a boating enthusiast, the array of freshly made rice dumplings are tempting enough to lure you to the festivities. The popular Kim Choo Kueh Chang dumplings are enjoyed across the city and are a foodie’s delight if you’re looking for authentic Chinese delicacies.

Ramadan is upheld by Singapore’s Islamic community from May to June. To celebrate the breaking of the Muslim month of fasting, Kampong Glam neighbourhood and Geylang Serai planning area hold night markets. Locals and visitors can celebrate the end of the day by sampling the gastronomic delights from more than a thousand food stalls. Whether you have a sweet tooth or you prefer savoury, there is an exotic treat to tempt your tastebuds.

Another Chinese event, the Mid-Autumn Festival, is customarily celebrated to mark the end of the autumn harvest. Friends and families gather with their lanterns in the Chinese Gardens or Chinatown to eat traditional food such as mooncakes, a pastry dish available in many different flavours. A very family-oriented festival, the event highlights the time of year when the moon is typically brightest and really takes off after dark.

Later on in autumn, Deepavali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by Hindus in an area of the Singapore called Little India. Throughout the event, the streets are lined with lights, street food vendors and Indian products. Deepavali is a fun, interactive festive, whereby visitors are encouraged to try the wide range of authentic Indian dishes available and to join in with the celebrations.

So with your calendar now chock-full of fun festivals, your move to Singapore will prove to be an exciting adventure, with plenty of memories for you to treasure.


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