Singapore is a small island country with a population of more than 5 million; making it the second most heavily populated in the world, after Monaco. Quite surprisingly then, greenery covers more than 50% of the area; including for nature reserves and 50 major park areas.
Singapore presents a number of festivals and events every year, including the Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore food Festival, Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore Jewel Festival, The World Gourmet Summit, the Singapore Sun Festival, The Chingay Parade, and ZoukOut.
The calendar of important National events for 2013 includes the Singapore Heritage Festival July 19 to 28, the National Day Parade on August 9, and the opening of Parliament on August 12..
One of the most important and eagerly awaited events of Singapore year is the Spring Festival, which is the celebration of Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, and is celebrated from the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, until the fifteenth day. Traditionally brand-new clothes are worn in honour of the New Year, while homes are scrubbed clean from top to bottom; signifying the sweeping away of all bad fortune and preparing for the arrival of good luck in the New Year. On the eve of Chinese New Year, everyone in Singapore celebrates with a family dinner known as the Reunion Dinner, and next morning, similarly to Scotland's "First Footing" the Singapore people indulge in "New Year Visits", where they call upon family and friends first thing. Children are given "Hong Bao" which are little red packets filled with cash
On most of the festivals, especially Chinese New Year and Chingay Parade, there are parades that include lanterns and human sized puppets, as well as the Dragons and other animals that have people underneath working them, along with magicians, fire eaters and dancers. During these festivities the Pit Building for the Formula One circuit is opened for spectators, on the Marina Bay waterfront.
The Chinese people of Singapore honour the lion as a bringer of good fortune, because of a legend about The Nien; a supposedly monstrous creature that destroyed crops and entire fields as well as farm animals, on the eve of Chinese New Year. The legend continues that villagers created a huge model animal from paper and bamboo, and manipulating it like a marionette, amid a cacophony of sound from drums, used it to frighten away the enormous Nien. This achievement is celebrated every year with the Lion Dance, where a huge paper and bamboo lion, or in recent years from different, more lifelike materiials, is worn by dozens of dancers and paraded around the streets to the accompaniment of loud music and drumming and beautiful lanterns.
Do and See
There is an abundance of varied things to do and places to visit in Singapore, so visitors should consider more than just a few days stay, if they want to fully appreciate this incredible place. Museums, galleries, and heritage centres abound, while the nature lovers will find more than enough beauty spots to visit. Singapore's night life is boisterous and colourful, while the restaurants offer not only typical Singapore delights, but also cuisine from all over the world.
Nature parks and theme parks provide plenty of daytime enjoyment for families, with the separate island of Sentosa; which was originally a military fort and has been developed into a pulsing resort; offering resorts World Sentosa with amusements, gambling, and the Universal Studios Park.
An authentic Vietnam war craft has been remodelled to provide a land and sea tour known as the DUCK Tour; which takes you around historical landmarks, the famous Singapore skyline and breathtaking views of the bay. The on-board DUCKtainers provide commentary throughout the tour, of the story of Singapore.
An alternative is the HIPPO Tour that uses an open top bus to show you all the interesting spots with commentary.
Probably most surprising in this tropical paradise is Snow City, where winter sports can be practised, and then there are numerous water sports opportunities, where enthusiasts can practice windsurfing, canoeing, sailing, skiing etc. There is also a watery theme park called Wild Wild Wet, where visitors are advised to wear swimming gear and clothes that will not spoil, as you are guaranteed to get soaked.
Wild Wild Wet
Something for Everyone
In summary; Singapore has something for everyone, of all ages and of varying tastes. Day or night you are guaranteed to find something to entertain you and hold your interest. Happy travels!