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‘Tis the season to be jolly in Singapore

Srey Kumneth / Khmer Times Share:
Gardens by the Bay has created an outdoor skating rink in a winter wonderland. KT/Srey Kumneth

This is the season to be jolly and it doesn’t get much better than spending a tropical Christmas in Singapore with discounted shopping and fine food.

Leading up to Christmas Day on the 25th, the city is transformed into a magical wonderland with shopping and food festivals and must-do activities for all. December is also the time to snap up bargains.

Dazzling Christmas decorations in the form of fairy lights and twinkling trees adorn the main streets. Shops are also decorated to the hilt with Santas and reindeer to add to the Christmas joy.

While Singapore might not have a white Christmas with snow, Gardens by the Bay is trying to create that wintery yuletide feeling with an outdoor skating rink.

“Christmas Wonderland returns and visitors can skate under the stars, be thrilled and entertained by the acclaimed Circus Abyssinia from Ethiopia, dine in award-winning restaurants and be awed by the tallest Italian luminarie light sculpture in Asean,” said Joanne Tham, assistant manager at Asia PR Werkz.

“The shops at Gardens by the Bay, which are open from 4pm to 11pm daily, are ready to welcome people from all around the world. Entry is free,” Tham added.

A shimmering web of lights and a dazzling array of festive ornaments have transformed Orchard Road in its annual Christmas on a Great Street celebrations launched by the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba). Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob launched Christmas on a Great Street on November 11.

Orba chairman Mark Shaw said: “This year’s Christmas on A Great Street includes some new initiatives that will add to the allure of Orchard Road amid the challenging retail environment.

“We are confident that these initiatives will make Orchard Road even more vibrant and offer new experiences to those who visit our precinct over the Christmas festivities.”

The fun, however, doesn’t end when Christmas does. The whole city will again be in party mood on New Year’s Eve as Singaporeans and tourists from around the world take part in the countdown.

Since its inception in 2005, the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown, presented by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), has become the nation’s largest and most spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration attracting more than 300,000 visitors each year.

According to the URA, towards the final moments of 2017, there will be a series of stunning building projection displays and a fireworks showcase to welcome in 2018.

“We hope the countdown activities and refreshed programme will encourage more people to come down to Marina Bay and the Civic District to collectively usher in 2018 and all our hopes and dreams for the New Year,” said Lim Eng Hwee, URA’s chief executive officer.

Also, from December 26 – Boxing Day – to New Year’s Eve, a specially curated 3D countdown projection called “Bay of Hopes and Dreams” will be mapped onto the Fullerton Hotel’s facade to celebrate new beginnings.

The New Year is also a time to bring people of different religions together and Singapore is no exception.

A 2014 analysis by the Pew Research Center found Singapore to be the world’s most religiously diverse nation. The most-followed religion is Buddhism with around 30 percent of the population declaring themselves Buddhists.

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a magnificent building open to all. Entrance is free and the temple is open from 7am to 7pm every day, including public holidays.

“We welcome all people from around the world,” said Wonh Soon Joo, the temple’s culture manager.

“Most people come to the temple to pray for good luck. Others come to meditate and also to look at the wonderful sculptures depicting the life of Buddha through the centuries,” he added.

“Those who finish praying here most often buy bracelets and amulets from the temple for blessings.”

The temple and museum building was conceptualised and designed by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, aided by a team of local and overseas consultants. A number of draft designs were developed, incorporating the best arts and culture of the great Tang Dynasty of China and the principles of the Buddhist mandala, as core design philosophy.

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