8 Free CNY 2020 Events In Singapore To Usher In The Year Of The Rat

Free Chinese New Year 2020 events in Singapore

Image adapted from (clockwise from top-left): Kreta Ayer CC, @m0moya, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre@chingaysingapore

Chinese New Year is relatively early this year, on 25th January instead of mid-Feb. Understandably, some of us are still in Christmas mode. But with the various CNY-related events and night displays popping up all over the island, it’s hard not to get into the Lunar New Year spirit – as much as we try not to let those overly catchy CNY tunes get stuck in our heads.

From carnivals to giant lantern installations and food bazaars, here are some CNY events for 2020 everyone can enjoy, whether you celebrate the occasion or not. And the best part? They’ll cost you absolutely nothing as entry is 100% free.

1. Chinatown light-up – 1,388 handcrafted lanterns with rat theme

Image credit: Kreta Ayer CC

As with every year without fail, Chinatown has some of the most massive CNY displays along its streets. This year, the cultural enclave is teeming with rats – not real ones, of course, adorable rat-shaped lanterns illuminating the entire stretch.

The main piece, a humongous float.
Image credit: Kreta Ayer CC

Catch these rodents tossing yu sheng, riding an ingot-adorned ferris wheel, and frolicking among Mandarin oranges. There are truly too many to count, but know that there are exactly 1,388 lanterns as part of the set-up!

Image credit: Kreta Ayer CC

Other animals from the Chinese zodiac make an appearance too, all painstakingly handcrafted.

Image credit: Kreta Ayer CC

Date: Until 22nd Jan 2020
Time: 7PM-12AM, Daily | CNY Eve: 7PM-6AM
Venue: Chinatown

2. River Hong Bao – carnival with food market, light installations and firework

Image adapted from: River Hong Bao

River Hong Bao is one event that doesn’t hold back. Apart from 10 towering lantern installations, they’ve also got a full-blown carnival with a food street and games like bumper cars, fishing, and hoop toss.

Image credit: River Hong Bao

While there, check out the free performances featuring drums, traditional Chinese dance, and ge tai.

Image credit: River Hong Bao

You’ll want to make plans to stay past 9 or 10PM, because there will be 10 nights of fireworks starting from 23rd January to ring in the season with a literal bang. The timings vary, so refer to the schedule here and plan ahead so you don’t miss out on the visual treat.

Rat-shaped entrance arch
Image adapted from: 
River Hong Bao

Date: 23rd Jan – 1st Feb 2020
Time: 2PM-11PM
Venue: The Float @ Marina bay

3. Chinatown bazaar – claw machines, CNY snacks, and decor

Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

Chinatown’s sprawling Chinese New Year bazaar is an annual affair that never disappoints. You’ll find everything you need for the occasion here, from decorations like lanterns and plants, to containers of baked goodies, and traditional outfits like qi paos. It’s pretty much a pasar malam, but with more festive items on sale.

Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

A little birdie told us that there’ll be arcade games and a slew of claw machines set up for this year’s edition, so don’t forget to bring loose change if you want to score yourself some plushies!

Date: Until 24th Jan 2020
Venue: Chinatown (People’s Park and OG area)

4. Huat Huat Land – light installations on a rooftop garden

Image credit: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

Tucked away from the bustling crowds elsewhere, the serene rooftop of Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre has been transformed into a mini art gallery of sorts, with giant pineapples, glowing mahjong tiles, and lion dance murals.

Definitely a place to visit with your mahjong kakis
Image credit: 
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

Named Huat Huat Land, this exhibition is conveniently located a 4-minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT station, so you can quickly drop by after work if your office is in the CBD.

Image credit: @m0moya

You’ll also get to redeem a special augmented reality (AR) red packet if you snap a photo there and post it on social media with the hashtag #HuatHuatLand.

Date: Until 8th Feb 2020
Time: 9AM-11PM
Venue: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre rooftop garden

5. Bukit Batok CNY Fair – mookata, Taiwanese snacks, and durian ice cream

Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

Bukit Batok CNY Fair is a food paradise with rows of F&B stalls serving all sorts of cuisine. Which is just as well, since Chinese New Year is a time for pigging out guilt-free – even if it ain’t the year of the pig.

Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

Look forward to durian ice cream and pancakes, Taiwanese snacks, Ramly burgers, as well as Thai delights like mookata, tom yam soup, and Thai ice tea. Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so head on down to enjoy the full spread.

Date: Until 23rd Jan 2020
Venue: Outside Bukit Batok MRT Station/West Mall

6. Spring Surprise at GBTB – dragon dance with fire, lantern displays

Golden Pyro Dragon Dance
Image credit: 
Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is pulling out all the stops this year with their Spring Surprise event, with not just lion dance performances, but also a Golden Pyro Dragon Dance – which is said to come with firework-like sparks raining all over, created by incorporating metal granules into the mix.

Image credit: Gardens by the Bay

Along the free outdoor areas of the Gardens you’ll find trees hanging with colourful lanterns lighting up the way as you stroll.

Shadow puppet performance depicting the zodiac animal race
Image credit: 
Gardens by the Bay

Look out for the free orchestra, wushu, and drum performances, and grab some homemade snacks at the Festive Bazaar.

Image credit: Gardens by the Bay

Date: Until 9th Feb 2020
Time: Find the complete programme schedule here.
Venue: Gardens by the Bay

7. Bedok Central CNY Fair – convenient for Easties

As the Bedok Central CNY Fair is organised by the same people behind the Chinatown bazaar, what you’ll find here will be pretty similar – which makes it a good alternative for Easties who need to do some last-minute shopping and don’t wish to squeeze with the crowds in town.

Claw machines with giant toys as big as a human
Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

Expect the standard selection of snacks like love letters, prawn rolls, and pineapple tarts, as well as good luck plants to bring your home extra huat in the new year.

Image credit: Singapore Night Bazaar

Traditional/antique homeware that your grandparents would approve of
Image credit: 
Singapore Night Bazaar

Date: Until 23rd Jan 2020
Venue: Open area in front of Block 211 at Bedok Town Centre (New Upper Changi Road)

8. Chingay fireworks – watch them near the Flyer without entry tix

Image credit: @chingaysingapore

The Chingay Parade is a vibrant spectacle of dancing and stunts, which ends off with a spectacular fireworks blast accompanied by laser effects and pyrotechnics. If you’re not keen on being surrounded by the crowd and noise, you can still get a glimpse of the fireworks for absolutely free if you camp outside the F1 Pit Building area.

Image credit: @chingaysingapore

We suggest snagging a spot around the Singapore Flyer nearby. The performance ends at 9.45PM, so you’ll want to come at least 15 minutes earlier to avoid missing the extravaganza, 30 if you want to ensure getting an ideal place to stand.

If you’re feeling atas, book a hotel room on a high floor in the vicinity and you’ll probably get a good view as well.

Date: 31st Jan – 1st Feb 2020
Time: 8PM-9.45PM
Venue: F1 Pit Building

Chinese New Year 2020 activities in Singapore

For a break from all the Chinese New Year preparations – or just to soak in the lively mood – head down to catch one of these food markets, light installation exhibitions, or firework displays. It doesn’t matter whether you celebrate the occasion or not, because anyone can have fun at these all-inclusive events.

Rachel Yohannan

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