Festivals in Singapore: Lanterns, mooncakes and what’s on for Mid-Autumn Festival 2018

The lanterns are out! Pagoda Street in Chinatown gets even more vibrant during Mid-Autumn Festival.
Time to light the lanterns and feast on mooncakes – the Mid-Autumn Festival is here! Learn more about this traditional festival that's all about family, togetherness and dazzling displays of light

In case you haven’t noticed all the beautiful lanterns on display and the abundance of mooncakes around town, it’s Mid-Autumn Festival time in Singapore! There are so many perks to living in a multicultural city – we love celebrating all the cultural events that make the local calendar so lively. Sure, we’re fairly clued up on all things Chinese New Year, dazzling Deepavali and the big Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities, but how about the story behind Mid-Autumn Festival? Read on to find out about this colourful cultural experience and and where you can join the festivities this year. Chinatown tends to be the hub of the celebrations, but we’ve been on the hunt to find out where kids can make lanterns, see beautiful lights and join in on some family-friendly fun…  and finding out just what the deal with mooncakes at this time of year!

The story that started it all…

Marking the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to show gratitude to godly entities. There are several folk tales disputing the origins of the festival, but the most popular, and indeed most romantic, is the tale of Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e. Long ago, the sky was filled with 10 suns, which burnt and devoured the greenery on Earth and caused people to perish at an alarming rate. A young archer, Hou Yi, came to the rescue when he used his bow and arrows to shoot down nine of the suns, saving the human race. Hurrah! As a reward for his heroism, The Queen Mother of the West presented him with a bottle of magic elixir, a potion that would guarantee his immortality. However, the archer didn’t want the gift, as he loved his wife more than the prospect of an eternal life without her (aww!). Instead of downing the elixir and sealing his immortal fate, Hou Li chose to hide it. Enter a dastardly student, Pang Meng, who tried to steal the elixir for himself. What Pang Meng didn’t bargain for was running into Chang’e, who thwarted the plot by drinking the elixir herself! As a result, Chang’e not only became immortal, but the potion caused her to fly higher and higher, until she reached the moon, where she was destined to spend eternity in her new role as the Moon Goddess. Hou Yi was heartbroken and so took action by moving a table laden with food and offerings directly under the moon in the hope that it would somehow entice his beloved back to earth. Ever since then, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the traditions of offering worship to the moon and the Goddess have continued.

Mark your diary for 24 September!

The festival is honoured on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Han calendar and Vietnamese calendar (within 15 days of the autumnal equinox), on the night of the full moon (get all that?). This year it falls on 24 September. Celebrations usually involve the gathering of friends and family (a reunion), to give thanks for the year’s harvest. It is also a time to pray for what you really wish for: perhaps a new baby, a spouse, good health, longevity or a happy future. Family gatherings are sure to include mooncakes (washed down with Chinese tea) and the chance to get crafty making colourful lanterns.

More on mooncakes

These unique coffee-flavoured snowskin-mooncakes with a Guinness-infused chocolate centre took the HoneyKids office by storm!

Traditionally made with wheat flours and  stuffed with delectable fillings including sugar and lotus bean powder, these tasty little Chinese pastries symbolise family reunions. Many now feature snowskin textures and exotic flavours such as Champagne truffle, chocolate and even Singapore’s all time-fave fruit, durian! There’s currently lots of lively banter in the office over the snowskin vs traditional mooncake debate. You can head to the popular annual fairs in NEX and Takashimaya to grab a box of these delicious treats, or order from Deliveroo from now until 14 September and they’ll match every mooncake purchased to donate to beneficiaries of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association.

Lovely lanterns

Making lanterns to release along the river is a traditional custom, but, thankfully, it’s widely acknowledged that this isn’t a good practice for the environment. There are so many other ways to appreciate the beauty of lanterns – check below for some great events around town! We’re all about creativity here at HoneyKids, so why not break out the craft kit with the kids and make your own lanterns to decorate your home? Insta-photo ops galore!

WHAT’S ON?

Tons! We’ve found mooncake making sessions and Mid-Autumn theatre, de-lightful exhibitions, and lantern walks…

Learn all about the Mooncake Festival at Hillside World Academy

Yep, we’ve got another exciting Family Funday planned with Hillside World Academy. We’ve pulled together a heap of awesome activities like Mandarin sing-a-longs, traditional Chinese performances, face painting and lanterns aplenty to celebrate Chinese history, culture and, of course, mooncakes! Oh, and did we mention that it’s FREE? The whole fam will be (moon) beaming with delight. Read the full article for all the deets and register your interest now!
When: 22 September, 3.30pm-6.30pm
Where: Hillside World Academy
honeykidsasia.com/youre-invited-honeykids-mid-autumn-festival-mooncake-party-hillside-world-academy

Be over the moon at Jurong Point

From cultural performances and games, to the mass lantern walk (22 Sept) and the Mid-Autumn Fair, there’s plenty to celebrate this September. Don’t miss the “Golden Games Carnival” happening both weekends, with stage performances, traditional dragon dance performances and the chance to connect with Chinese heritage.
When: now until 30 September
Where: Jurong Point
www.jurongpoint.com.sg

Moonfest at the Esplanade

Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with Esplanade’s MoonFest, a festival for the young and old to gather over performances and activities. Featuring both ticketed and free programs, highlights include The True Monkey King (a fun cultural show involving traditional puppetry), Hokkien Opera theatre, performances and art and craft workshops. We can’t wait to try out the parent and child percussion workshop and Wing Chun 101!
When: 29 September to 4 October
Where: Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay
www.esplanade.com

Mid-Autumn Festival at The Gardens 2018

gardens-by-the-bay Mid-Autumn Festival

Gardens by the Bay has something mythical in store for its lantern display. Photography: Gardens by the Bay

Watch as Gardens by the Bay becomes illuminated by the glow of handcrafted lanterns that will bring to life the stories of the Moon. Each year involves dazzling displays of light and colour, and a fusion of traditional and modern festivities. Be prepared to be wowed by the Garden’s display of mythical creatures based on “Autumn of Fantasies”, depicting a whopping Phoenix and Peony display, sky lanterns and the Garden’s widest lantern set to date as carps leap across the water hoping to turn into a ferocious dragon. There will also be nightly cultural performances, a food street featuring delicious Asian delights, and Fun Zone where you’ll find craft booths offering cool activities like lantern riddles, sugar art and stone engravings. Don’t forget to hang up your most heartfelt wishes on the Golden Wishing Tree!
When: 6 September to 24 September
Where: Gardens by the Bay
www.gardensbythebay.com.sg

Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2018

Hardly a big shocker, Chinatown is hosting a ton of celebrations on between now and 8 October! Look out for nightly stage shows, craft activities for kiddos, a street bazaar and carnival. If you missed the first street light up, you can join in to flood the streets with lanterns on the 23 September from 7pm: expect dragon dances and fireworks!
When: 2 September to 8 October
Where: All around Chinatown!
www.chinatownfestivals.sg

Chinatown Mass Lantern Walk

Grab your friends and family and join a mass lantern walk under the full moon, amidst the beautiful displays around Chinatown. It’s set to be a spectacular night, with dragon and lion dance troupes, a percussion band and cheerleaders accompanying the walk. The lantern walk will conclude with stage performances and a seriously cool pyrotechnics display in the heart of Chinatown!
When: 23 September, 7pm-10pm
Where: Start Point – Kreta Ayer Square, End point – Along New Bridge Road
www.chinatownfestivals.sg

Bask in the light of this lantern exhibition

We could all use a little light and what better way than at a lantern exhibit? See how the inner light of artists Ben Koh and Christian Tan shine in Lanterns to My Heart. Get a glimpse into the world of these artists with autism and experience the serenity and hope of the harvest festival through their art.
When: now until 30 September, 9am – 8pm
Where: Chinatown Heritage Centre
www.nlb.gov.sg

Celebrate all the cuteness of Disney Tsum Tsum

Disney Tsum Tsum Mid-Autumn Festival

Isn’t this just the cutest Olaf ever? Photography: Tracy Tristram

Disney Tsum Tsum has come to VivoCity’s Sky Park in adorable lantern fun. Stick around each night when 2,000 Disney Tsum Tsum lanterns light up the night sky, redeem exclusive Disney Tsum Tsum Mid-Autumn EZ-Link cards and send a wish into the Frozen-themed wonderland. All proceeds will be donated to Children’s Cancer Foundation. When you’re done admiring the lanterns, the kids can pop over to the Happy Paddle Boats just next door for a whizz around. Surrounded by such a magical display, you’re sure to fall in love!
When: now until 30 September 2018
Where: VivoCity’s Sky Park
www.vivocity.com.sg

Head to the Wan Qing Mid-Autumn Festival

The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall is organising the Wan Qing Mid-Autumn Festival to celebrate Chinese culture with heritage trails, drop-in crafts, mooncake and tea tasting and a lantern installation. The display will be on from now until 8 October with plenty of photo-opps for you and the little ones. Plus, Singapore’s Largest Mooncake will be unveiled on 22 September. You won’t get to just feast your eyes on all 1.8m x 23cm of it, you’ll also be able to sample a taste (it’s halal-certified too!). When the sun sets, chope your spot for the evening performances of dragon dance, kung fu tea, traditional lantern dance and drama performances.
When: 22-23 September, 10am -9.30pm
Where: Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
sysnmh.org.sg

Mid-Autumn Celebration @ SCCC

Enjoy a celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival like no other at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. Spot the stars in the planetarium show, attend cultural appreciation talks, puppetry and opera performances, craft workshops and race against time to save Mid-Autumn in a mass escape activity! Entry is free but pre-registration is required so save your spot fast!
When: 15 September 2018, Saturday, 10am – 7.15pm
Where: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore 018906)
www.singaporeccc.org.sg

Enjoy a mooncake-making treat

Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with a mooncake-making workshop. Held at the ever-green, ever-gorgeous Singapore Botanic Gardens, find out how to make snowskin mooncakes using plant ingredients. As the session draws to a close, tuck into your delicious mooncakes and learn a fact or two as you stroll about the Jacob Ballas Gardens. Spots cost $30 each and the event is suitable for kiddos aged five to 13 years.
When: 22 September, 10am-11.30am
Where: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Visitor Services Desk at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Registration: Online at www.nparks.gov.sg

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