Singapore is one of the world's best cities to celebrate the Chinese New Year thanks in part to the island's famous Chingay Parade. What started as a Chinese street procession is today a much anticipated uniquely Singapore event in the international calendar. Not satisfied to sit on its laurels, People's Association together with the Singapore Tourism Board, its partners and supporters are drawing up an even more exciting Chingay 2013 to attract even more visitors to Singapore as well as residents. I chatted with Muhammad Fairuz of PA's Singapore Chingay and Events Network Division to find out what's in store for all of us on 22 and 23 February. Here are 9 top reasons to make a date with Chingay 2013.
Asia's grandest street parade featuring spectacular acts, stunning costumes and decorated mobile floats was watched by millions of viewers worldwide, some 130,000 residents and 32,000 tourists of whom 8,000 travelled to Singapore specially for Chingay in 2012.
Visitors from the UK and Australia likened Chingay to New Orleans' Mardi Gras and Rio De Janeiro's Carnival while tourists from China compare it to the China World Expo due to the international mix of performers from Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, China, South Korea, Pakistan, Seychelles, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Denmark, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, Canada and the US.
2013 will see some 10,000 performers from different races, ages, backgrounds and 120 different organisations performing to a live audience of 160,000 and 1.5 million television viewers. Ambassador of Japan to Singapore, His Excellency Kunihiko Makita sumed it best when he described Chingay as a tribute to Singapore's "ethnic diversity and cosmopolitan outlook" and an "amazing Singapore event, quite unlike any other in the world".
The parade will open with a major artistic showpiece entitled 'Song of Righteousness' [正气歌] from the Song Dynasty by renowned Singapore and China's Artistes. This musical performance includes the Mandarin characters for 'Righteousness' brought to life in flames, while 600 tai chi sword performers from 38 Community Centres and Resident Centres and the Soka Association of Singapore deliver a choreographic display around the flickering words, and professional martial artists showcase their skills on the mini stages.
Singapore's most spectacular multicultural celebration occurring on the first weekend of the 15-day Lunar Chinese New Year Festivities also brings together the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians who call this global city home.
It is a significant celebration of the unity, pride and dreams of Singaporeans and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's well wishes is for the Singapore Spirit to "continue to soar higher through the Chingay Parades".
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong / Photo courtesy of People's Association
Chingay also reflects the cultural diversity of a nation united by an immigrant history with over 8,000 performers from different backgrounds, races, cultures and walks of life and traditional Chinese New Year elements of dragon and lion dancers, stilt walking and pole acts.
Chingay 2013 brings together 3 of Singapore's famous Teochew, Hokkien, and Cantonese Opera Troupes to produce the nation's largest live Chinese Opera Show ever and promote traditional Chinese arts to residents and visitors. 300 members from the Teochew Drama Association [潮剧联谊社], Singapore Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe [新加坡武吉班让福建公会芗剧团] and Queenstown CC Cantonese Group [女皇镇粤剧团] will be working together to deliver 3 performances
In uniquely Singapore fashion, traditional Chinese opera meets contemporary pop culture as 900 members of the PA Youth Movement in operatic costumes and masks that express Western traditions dance to hip hop music around 3 mobile stages with the Chinese opera groups.
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Chingay 2013 includes an entourage of traditional Chinese performing items such as China's
centipede dance, stilt walkers with pyrotechnics, acrobats, towering dragons, dragons made from recyclable cans and 450 young female dancers from Singapore and China to set a milestone as the biggest Chinese cultural dance in Chingay history.
Members from 15 Group Representation Constituencies, Community Development Councils, PA Councils and community organisations join forces to produce a parade of the best of Singapore's cuisine with cooking stalls. The fitness trends of 2013 come to live with zumba moves by 1,000 members of the PAssion Zumba community.
Singapore's Malay and Indian communities are represented by a Malay float styled like a grand castle and entitled 'Cinta Sejati' or 'an eternal love'. The Indian float is adorned with fire snakes, which aptly symbolise rebirth and the beginning of a new cycle.
A medley of international performing groups are also in attendance with acts by members of the Japanese Association Singapore, interactive with our fun-loving performers from France, Indonesian artistes and combined displays by the Philippines and Korea.
Chingay 2013 promises to be a spectacular parade of fire and snow with the theme of "Fire in Snow" [雪中火]. As the only parade marrying two contrasting elements together, audiences will be treated to a fiery spectacle of a thousand fires amidst a spectacular snow scene.
A section of the parade route will actually be transformed into an ocean of fire with 3,000 performers, theatrical lighting, sound effects, a parade of floats and 2 songs, 'Love Comes Alive' [让爱动起来] and 'Fire in Snow'
The 2013 theme celebrates the resilience of Singaporeans with 'Fire' as a symbol of bravery and determination amidst the many challenges represented by 'Snow'. 1,000 resilient Singaporeans including the physically challenge, sick, care-givers, youths, senior citizens and new citizens will be included in the performance. The public has also contributed to the creation of the ocean of fire by donating used cooking woks and pots.