Drumming up cheer this year-end festive season will be the myriad performances, shopping deals and celebratory events that are lined up for Singapore’s Christmas in the Tropics 2008, to be held from 15 November 2008 to 2 January 2009.
Among the annual highlights of Christmas in the Tropics is the highly anticipated Christmas Light-up, which will mark its 25th anniversary this year. President S.R. Nathan will be the guest-of-honour for the switch-on ceremony on the 15 November 2008 at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza.
Themed ‘A Sweet Christmas in Singapore’, the decorations will centre around the Sweet Family who live in Christmas Town and run a Sweet Shoppe. The family is celebrating Christmas in Singapore and spreading sweet cheer along Orchard Road and the Marina Bay, which will be transformed into a fantasy candy wonderland. The light-up is conceptualised by Creative Director Dick Lee and will feature a landscape adorned with colourful gumdrops, candy cane street lamps, delectable cupcake houses and giant doughnuts.
With the Orchard Road pedestrian mall enhancement works near completion, the new urban green rooms fronting ION Orchard, Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City will be used for the first time to provide more space for decorative set pieces and themed activities, in addition to the usual sites such as Shaw House, Wheelock Place and at the junction of Orchard Road and Grange Road.
The 25th year of the Christmas Light-Up will feature an array of merchandise and activities themed around the light-up’s main characters. Mr and Mrs Sweet, their three children and pets will appear on limited edition products such as squeeze doughnuts, chocolates and eco-friendly bags. The Sweet Family members will also appear on Orchard Road to meet and greet shoppers as well as take photos with them. Shoppers can also indulge in sweet making demonstrations and participate in various sweet-related activities along Orchard Road.
“Christmas in the Tropics will be extra special this year. With the special Sweet Family merchandise and themed activities, as well as celebratory events, special promotions and shopping deals, we hope that visitors will have an enjoyable and immersive experience of Singapore during the Christmas season. This will help entrench Singapore as a top-of-mind destination for their year-end travels, particularly for families and those seeking a fun weekend getaway,” said Ms Geraldine Yeo, Director of Leisure Marketing and Events Management, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Traditionally, November and December are peak months for the tourism sector. Last year, Singapore received close to 1.8 million visitors in November and December, an increase of 5% over 2006. A survey by the STB during the Christmas In The Tropics 2007 season found that approximately 5 million people visited the Orchard Road area, of which close to 1 million were from overseas. More than 30% of visitors were making a repeat visit to the Christmas light-up at Orchard Road. This is an increase from the 25% recorded in 2006. In addition more than 40% of tourists surveyed at Orchard were aware of the Christmas celebrations before arrival. Overall, more than 15% of visitors had planned their trip to Singapore to coincide with the Christmas celebrations.
Ms Yeo said, “Even though the global economy is going through some uncertain times now, we hope that the events and promotions will not only heighten the buzz of the year-end festivities by making Singapore a more attractive holiday destination but also help to round off the year on a sweet note for our visitors.”
A key highlight this year will be the Sweet Family themed activities, organised by the Orchard Road Business Association. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 7pm to 11pm starting 28 November, the Sweet Family members will be handing out free candy and take photos with shoppers. There will also be sweet-making demonstrations in the sweet huts along Orchard Road where shoppers can indulge in sweet treats like ice-cream or traditional Singaporean sweets like dragon beard and ting ting candy. A roving drummer band will also drum up festive spirits. On 20 December, 2,000 participants will join in a mass “fun-athon” event where they will solve sweet-related puzzles along Orchard Road using clue cards. Besides that, shoppers can contribute to charity by helping to complete a 3m by 1.8m mosaic picture of the Sweet Family. For every donation, mock sweets will be added on to the mosaic display at Tong Building.
“The Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) is pleased to take on a more direct and active role for the Christmas in the Tropics festivities this year by organising the themed activities. We hope to delight shoppers with these sweet offerings and continue to attract more visitors, both local and international, to Orchard Road,” said ORBA chairman, Mrs May Sng.
The other highlight of the season is Celebrate Christmas in Singapore which takes place from 19 to 25 December 2008. Nightly performances at various locations along Orchard Road will feature choirs, mime performances, carolling and dance and amongst these will be performances by international cultural groups hailing from Brazil, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hawaii, Australia and the Philippines. The colourful float parade returns to run nightly between 19 December and Christmas Day and will spread festive cheer from the heartlands to Orchard Road. The Christmas Village at Plaza Singapura will feature a singing Christmas tree and on Christmas Day, the celebrations will culminate in a grand concert at 8pm in front of Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza.
During the festive season, locals and visitors can also enjoy many lifestyle offers with the host of entertainment, dining, retail and spa options lined up. The magical season takes a fairy-tale turn with the Singapore Dance Theatre’s ‘Nutcracker’ ballet performance, W!LD RICE’s annual musical pantomime ‘Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs’ and The Little Company’s ‘The Tooth Fairy’. Fans of musical luminaries like Sting, Edin Karamazov, Andy Lau, Fong Fei Fei and Taiwanese group Fahrenheit are in for a treat when the stars stage their concerts in Singapore. Kids can also delight in their favourite cartoon characters from ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Precious Moments’ at Marina Square and Suntec City Mall respectively.
Party-goers can revel in the iconic ZoukOut dusk-till-dawn beach dance party, which returns to Sentosa on 13 December. Vivocity will celebrate its second anniversary with a brilliant fireworks display by renowned French pyrotechnics team, Feerie, on 29 November. Come New Year’s Eve, the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown is set to dazzle the crowds with a symphony of lights and floating spheres bearing the wishes of the nation against a sky lit with dazzling fireworks. At The Jewel Box, the ‘Sky Symphony Countdown’ will also feature a choreographed fireworks show and showcase what could be the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree. Revellers can also head for the Siloso Beach Party to herald in the new year.
Shopping malls are also introducing various in-house events to celebrate the season. The Centrepoint, in line with the Christmas theme of all things sweet, will present ‘The Cacao Show’ where chocolate chefs challenge the world record for the tallest ever chocolate sculpture.
Takashimaya goes green this year with its 16-metre tall Christmas tree powered by solar panels and lit by energy-reducing LED lights. Over at Central, along the Singapore River, it’s a white Christmas with a series of ice skating musicals and workshops. During this season of indulgence, diners can enjoy various dining promotions at Villa Seafood Galleria, Made in China Hua Song Museum, The Olive Ristorante, Moonladder, The Seafood International, The Vista Bistro and Olio and Dome cafes, amongst others.
Kids Holiday Free: Families travelling with children will be able to enjoy special visitor promotions at selected attractions and dining establishments under the ‘Kids Holiday Free’ promotion. For every two paying adults, two children will enjoy free admission, special meals and other sweet surprises. More than 20 attractions are participating, including the Singapore Flyer, HiPPO River Cruise, Singapore River Cruises, Jurong BirdPark, Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, the National Heritage Board museums and Sentosa, amongst many others. The same promotion extends to some 10 dining establishments such as Chen Fu Ji, Hard Rock Café, Billy Bombers, Marriot Café, Indian Grill and Karma Kettle where up to two children dine for free with every two paying adults.
Adults Party for Free: Party animals can get set for a wild night out as they enjoy perks like 1-for-1 drinks or complimentary entry to some of Singapore’s hottest clubs under the ‘Party for Free’ promotion. Participating pubs and clubs include favourites such as Loof, Thumper, Zouk, Bar None, Attica and St James Power Station.
Free Christmas Light-Up Tour on the HIPPO Bus: Visitors are in for a visual treat when they take the free tour of the Christmas Light-Up on Orchard Road on the HIPPO Bus. Some of the best photo opportunities can be enjoyed on this 30-minute tour aboard a special open-top bus.
Sweet Family Merchandise: For the first time, the theme of Christmas in the Tropics will adorn special festive merchandise. The Sweet Family will grace the packaging of the largest chocolate bar in town – a special 1 kg dark chocolate bar by Aalst Chocolate which will be available at selected department stores. The Cacao Show at The Centrepoint will also feature the Sweet Family on bite-sized special edition pralines.
The Sweet Family will also be part of special tourist giveaways at Action City and the Orchard Road Singapore Visitors Centre (SVC). At Action City, shoppers who spend at least Sin$50 will get a Uniquely Singapore Breadou Donut in a specially designed “The Sweetest Christmas” box. Visitors who spend at least Sin$200 (with maximum of three combined receipts) can redeem a Sweet Family eco-bag as well as a Jurlique beauty sample redemption card at the SingaporeVisitors Centre at Orchard.
Santa’s Gift Bag: This year, in line with the Sweet Family theme, Santa’s Gift Bags will contain sweet treats such as chocolates, fruit cakes, gingerbread and other delectable delights. Perfect presents for sweet-toothed friends and family, these bags of treats range from S$15 to S$35 and will contain items valued between S$22 and S$80. Merchants participating in this promotion are Aalst Chocolate, Chocz, The Cocoa Trees and Galler.
Tech Gadget Promotions: Visitors can also enjoy special deals at Funan DigitaLife Mall and Epicentre on MP3 players and selected iPod products purchased at the Epicentre. Audio House is also offering visiting photography enthusiasts an Sin$800 discount off the Nikon D60 SLR digital camera.
Wellness Packages: Visitors can pamper themselves with a Roman milk body wrap, a Thai massage or a medispa facial treatment at various spas around the Orchard and Marina Bay areas. These special wellness packages are offered by six participating spas, namely Ayuthaya – The Royal Thai Spa, LS Philosophy, DRx Medispa, Spaboutique Pte Ltd, Spa Valley and The Wellness Lounge.
Redeem a Free Taxi Ride: After a rewarding day of retail therapy, visitors can enjoy a free Sin$20 taxi voucher from MasterCard for purchases above Sin$300 that are charged to their MasterCard. Redemption can be made at the Orchard Road Singapore Visitors Centre (SVC) with accumulated shopping receipts.
Extended Opening Hours: Last-minute Christmas shoppers can look forward to weekend nights for late-night shopping, dining and entertainment. Especially for the Christmas season, selected malls will also extend their shopping hours on Fridays and even Sundays. Participating outlets at Marina Square, Vivocity and TANGS Orchard will extend their hours till 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays in December, Wisma Atria will extend opening hours for the week before Christmas, while Paragon and The Centrepoint maintain their late night shopping hours on all Saturdays. Check with each participating mall for full details and late night shopping deals.