Want to celebrate the Year of the Metal Rat in the best, most fun way possible? Lucky for you we've been finding all the best things to do in Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year with kids...
Chinese New Year is edging closer and closer (next WEEK!), and you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be here quicker than you can say ‘Year of the Rat’! Whether you’ve booked the restaurant for your family reunion dinner or prefer to order your CNY takeaway instead, there’s no denying food will feature heavily in your celebrations. But festive snacks aside, you’re going to need to keep the famalam entertained if you decide to venture out. Luckily, we know exactly where all the CNY fun is at. Here’s our list of all the best ways to celebrate Chinese New Year with kids in Singapore, and enjoy the best things to do with the family over the holiday.
Street Light-Up in Chinatown
See giant rodents – of the colourful lantern variety – over in Chinatown. The light displays stretch down Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road, South Bridge Road and Garden Bridge, and the whole area is pretty darn spectacular! What’s even more awesome is the fact you can opt to adopt a lantern to adorn your home or office after the festivities – how cool?! Chinatown Festivals’ adoption campaign is now in its sixth year and we love the sustainable effort of it all. Applications start on 3 February, so if you can give an illuminated rat a good home, get your paperwork ready!
When: Until 22 February, from 7pm daily
Where: Street light-up at Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road, South Bridge Road and Garden Bridge
Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts 2019
If you’re looking for things to do with kids this Chinese New Year, take the kids to Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts. The ticketed and non-ticketed line-up of fun theatre shows, activities and workshops guarantees a big dose of CNY culture, language and art awesomeness. Kids can get crafty at free workshops (such as learning how to make their own traditional paper), enjoy some animal zodiac bodypainting and join interactive storytelling performances like The Runaway Chopsticks. We like the sound of Gullinkambi, a piece of puppetry theatre for littlies aged three and up about a girl and her polar bear pal.
When: 31 January–9 February, various timings
Where: Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts, Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981
Cost: Free and ticketed events
Are you really celebrating if you’re not watching the Chingay Parade? This annual occasion started in 1973 as a street parade to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Since then, it has evolved into an iconic yearly event we can’t get enough of. Expect the usual array of cultural performances, decorated floats, lasers, pyrotechnics and fireworks.
When: 31 Jan & 1 Feb, 8pm–9.30pm
Where: F1 Pit Buildings
Cost: From $28.50, buy online here
Istana Open House
The Istana only opens its doors to the public a few times a year, but we love taking a stickybeak around Singapore’s most famous home and office on these limited-edition occasions. So mark the second day of Chinese New Year in your calendar for a great thing to do with kids. Take a tour around the main building, and also join a guided walk through the gardens for the chance to teach the littlies some history in a gorgeously green setting.
When: 26 January, 8.30am-6pm
Where: The Istana, Orchard Road, Singapore 238823
Cost: Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs. $2 for everyone else.
Chinatown Festive Street Bazaar
With a variety of stalls lining up the streets of Chinatown, why not head to the Chinatown Festive Street Bazaar with the kids? You can all snack on mouth-watering New Year delicacies and splurge on paper lanterns, lion puppets, giant paper pineapples, bright decorations and more goodies. Pick up a cheongsam or Chinese-collared shirt while you’re there!
When: 3–24 February, 6pm-10.30pm daily, (extended to 1am on CNY Eve)
Where: Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street
Celebrate at Gardens by the Bay
We always love the seasonal celebrations at Gardens by the Bay and this time of year promises some spectacular treats for the senses. Take the fam along to explore the beautiful floral displays, performances and more. Our picks? The Golden Pyro Dragon Dance is top of our list, followed by the shadow puppet performance and fun zodiac-themed tangram boards. Music concerts and a meet-and-greet with the God of Fortune also await. Don’t forget the lion dances, too!
When: 27 Jan–9 February, 12pm-8.30pm (various timings)
Where: Supertree Grove, Flower Dome, The Canopy, Golden Garden
Cost: Programs are free. Admission charge to Flower Dome applies.
buds at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
This CNY, usher in the year of the rat with the family over at buds, one of our fave places to hang out with the kids. It’s packed full of fun things to do with kids this Chinese New Year! Let your child craft an Auspicious Dragon Clothespin or Origami Rat Fortune Holder, or make a visit to the traditional Chinese home so your little one can collect a special hong bao. At 10am and 4pm each day until 2 February, there are also meaningful tales of Chinese tradition and customs to listen to plus, if you’ve got a mini masterchef on your hands, sign ’em up for a very special Bake class! The Shangri-La pastry chefs will be teaching kids to discover the joy of baking with a pineapple cookies workshop (this could work in your favour, parents!). Pop along to the Garden Terrace while you’re there: from 2.30pm each day until 28 January, you and the minis can enjoy festive treats, movie time and even a lion dance lesson. Count us in!
When: Until 2 February; bake workshop Sat, Sun & Public Holiday at 11am & 3.30pm
Where: buds at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road
Cost: Normal admission fees apply; bake workshop $58 per child for 90 mins
Chinese New Year Countdown Party
Party like it’s 2020 and the Year of the Rat! Keep the young ‘uns up late with this family-friendly evening event packed full of live performances, music, games, firecrackers and fireworks. What’s not to love?
When: 24 January, 9.30pm–12.30am
Where: New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street
River Hongbao 2020
Who’s up for 10 days of celebrations? River Hongbao 2020 is a whopper of an extravaganza, uniting lights, sights and sounds to usher in the Year of the Rat. Head down to The Float at Marina Bay from 23 Jan to 1 February for an awesome time. We’re talking dazzling performances, carnival rides, traditional bites, game stalls and awesome lanterns: fun for all ages, basically! This year there’s also an exhibition all about the custom of giving red packets. Don’t forget to sit back and wait for the fireworks and laser shows happening every night (check website for timings).
When: 23 Jan–1 February, 2pm-11pm daily
Where: The [email protected] Bay, 20 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039805
Free stage shows
Each night of the Chinese New Year celebrations, you and the fam can soak up the festive atmos with some free nightly stage performances at Kreta Ayer Square. Kicking off at 8pm each night, local and overseas artists and performing groups will take to the stage to entertain the masses. Make sure you’re one of ’em!
When: 4–24 February, 8pm-10.30pm nightly
Where: Kreta Ayer Square
A lion dance with a difference at S.E.A. Aquarium
Our kids LOVE the aquarium at the best of times, and especially the humungous Open Ocean Habitat. And, this Chinese New Year, things are getting flippin’ awesome: we’re talking an underwater dragon dance! Completely mesmerising, the spectacle takes place every day at 3.15pm, with the diver weaving the dragon past all the spectator fishes and manta rays. We likey. Don’t forget to extend the fun by taking in all the other exhibits while you’re there, or checking out other Sentosa attractions.
When: Until 9 February, dance daily at 3.15pm
Where: Open Ocean Habitat, S.E.A. Aquarium, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa
Cost: Normal admission fees apply
Good times a-go-go at Universal Studios Singapore
Speaking of exploring the island, why not swing by Universal Studios Singapore to ring in the New Year? Catch all your fave characters in their traditional Chinese get-up and grab all the selfies you can muster at eight installations along the Auspicious Dragon Trail.
When: Until 9 February
Where: Universal Studios Singapore, Sentosa
Cost: Entry fee applies
Shenanigans at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
So much is going on at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall over the CNY weekend that you won’t be short of things to do with kids this Chinese New Year! As well as a sketching workshop and interactive masterclass for kids on how to do a lion dance, there’s also a HUGE yusheng to take part in! Join more than 200 visitors in an outdoor lo hei and toss to bountiful luck and prosperity for the Lunar New Year. Sticking around for a bit longer is “Lunar Guardians”, an outdoor installation that features two lion dance-inspired sculptures. The perfect photo opp, grab your selfies at the artwork, which will be on display on the lawn of the memorial hall until 9 February.
When: Lion masterclass 1 February at 4.30–5.30pm; sketching workshop 1-2 February from 11am–12pm; prosperity toss 1 Feb at 6–6.30pm
Where: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
Pap some pineapples for the ‘gram
Hang out with some large and lustrous pineapples and super-sized mahjong tiles at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. Up on the Roof Garden, the space has been transformed into Huat Huat Land, a festive wonderland to usher in a prosperous Chinese New Year. Get set for Instagram-worthy moments for the family with larger-than-life, three-metre-high pineapple installations, as well as illuminated mahjong tiles and even a pile of gold to sit on for that perfect photo opp! Psst… the Cultural Centre’s highly anticipated red packets bring extra wow this year by becoming Asia’s first interactive Augmented Reality (AR) red packet powered by Spark AR from Facebook. Impressive.
Where: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, 1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore, 018906
Head to ION Orchard for CNY festivities
For things to do with kids this Chinese New Year, there’s so much going on at ION that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Enjoy lion dance and drum performances (at the very auspicious time of 3.08pm!), and keep your eyes peeled for the God of Fortune too, as he will be roving around the mall on select dates bringing good luck and fortune to all. While you’re there, pop down to B1 to check out the Spring Blossom Garden, where you can all learn about your Chinese Zodiac sign and read predictions for the year ahead. Over at ION Sky this February and March, the fun continues – there’ll be a seasonal multimedia show called First Day of Spring that has us pretty intrigued.
Where: ION , 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!