So Christmas is over for another year, but Singapore doesn't miss a beat. With so many nationalities living here, every religious festival is given equal attention.
The Christmas lights of Orchard Road are already coming down to give room for the next celebration. Chinese New Year is just around the corner, so no time is wasted with preparing for the next visual treat. Of course Chinatown is the place to head for during this time, but my favourite event is the Chingay Parade.
Scheduled for the 16th February this year, with a 'preview parade' on 15th (which is the same parade but is not televised and not as crowded), this event has come from very humble beginnings to become an international event.
The term Chingay itself originated in Southeast Asia, particularly in Penang, Malaysia, which is a phonetic equivalent of the Chinese words "妆艺", which means "a decorated miniature stage" or float.
The Chingay Parade traces its origins to a float decorating competition held in Penang in 1905. This practice of float decoration spread to the rest of Malaysia by the 1960s, and eventually became associated with the Chinese New Year.
In 1973, the first Chingay parade was held in Singapore, partly as a result of the ban on firecrackers a year earlier because of fire hazards.
The idea was that the dragon dances, stilt walkers, and the like,would bring back some cheer to the general public.
The parade has become much more multi-cultural since then, with many international acts participating, but there are still many traditional Chinese acts included. The pole balancers and lion dancers are always a favourite.
In 1985, the parade marched down Orchard Road for the first time, primarily to bring the parade closer to tourists and because of space restrictions.
But this year the parade is to start at City Hall, and will no doubt be quite spectacular. There will be climbers from Outward Bound abseiling down the facade of City Hall, and the opening float will be a giant 18-metre whale with 4-metre wide jelly fish floating overhead. Dancers will be dressed as sea creatures such as lion fish, crabs and coral.
There will also be a 'Love Boat' float with 5 wedding couples aboard (last year a couple got married during the parade so I guess the idea has caught on!).
I'm sure the kids will get a buzz out of the whole spectacle, although the 8.30pm kick off is a tad late for the little ones. The range of floats last year was mind boggling. Local community group, International schools (ASS), La Salle School of Performing Arts, as well as groups from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and many more ensured for a night of colour, energy and beauty that is hard to forget.

For more information, go to chingay.org.sg

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