The sun’s out in full force, the average daily temperature is hovering around 30° C, and the humidity level will have you sporting a dewy glow within seconds of stepping outside. What’s that mean? It must be Christmastime in Singapore!
Despite (or maybe because of) the not-so-Christmasy weather, Singapore really outdoes itself this time of year creating the most merry and bright holiday atmosphere in all of Asia. With festively decorated streets and shopping malls and an abundance of lively holiday events and activities for the whole family, Singapore offers both residents of and visitors to the Little Red Dot a wealth of ways to get into the holiday spirit. The following are eight of our favorite things to do in Singapore at Christmas!
(If you’ve got other ideas for celebrating Christmas in Singapore, feel free to spread the Yuletide cheer in the comments!)
SEE THE LIGHTS ON ORCHARD ROAD
Hands down, the best place to marvel at pretty Christmas lights
and take selfies with reindeer in Singapore is Orchard Road. Sporting a new theme every year, Singapore’s busiest shopping street is also its most dressed out at the holidays! The best-decorated portions of the road stretch from the Forum on the west side of Orchard to Orchard Gateway in the east. (That’s a 1.5 km walk if you decide to walk the whole thing, which I definitely recommend you do.) Make a night of it by walking the full length of the road, admiring the creative Christmas displays, and dropping inside the malls to see who gets bragging rights for the biggest and best Christmas tree!
DO YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING AT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Prada and Gucci too expensive for your budget? Why not tick off the items on your Christmas list at one of Singapore’s pop-up Christmas markets and bazaars instead? Bringing a little European-inspired Christmas charm to the Lion City, here are a few of the best Christmas markets in Singapore:
Great Christmas Village Located in front of Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road, the Great Christmas Village is open 25 November to 25 December. Admission is free. Expect plenty of food vendors, Christmas concerts and stage performances, rides for kids, and several boutique and brand name stalls offering unique Christmas gifts and treats.
Christmas In Queenstown Located at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Dundee Road, Christmas In Queenstown is open 15 to 17 December and 22 to 23 December. Admission is free. Expect one-of-a-kind handicrafts and artisan goods from local independent shops, live music, and a variety of food stalls.
Festive Market At Christmas Wonderland Located at Gardens by the Bay, the Festive Market is open 1 to 26 December. A ticket is required. Expect the closest thing to European Christmas markets that you’ll find in Singapore offering up tasty treats like fluffy Dutch pancakes (poffertjes) and churros and chocolate, plus a wide variety of handmade crafts and gifts. (More on Christmas Wonderland below!)
INDULGE IN A FEW CHRISTMAS-INSPIRED TREATS
Walk into almost any luxury hotel cafe in Singapore this time of year and you’re sure to find a plethora of lavishly-decorated cakes and yule logs, delectable gingerbread men, and all sorts of other Christmas-inspired treats to tempt your sweet tooth. The Fullerton Hotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, and the Grand Hyatt are particularly well-known for offering some of the best, most extravagant Christmas delicacies.
But don’t worry, if you’re strapped for cash this holiday season (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), there are plenty of other places you can indulge a little without blowing your entire holiday budget in one go. Pop-up Christmas markets (like those mentioned above) always have unique treats in a range of prices. The most economical choice (without scrimping on taste!) are the bakeries and bread shops located in the food courts of Singapore’s popular shopping malls, such as the Takashimaya Food Hall and the Ion Food Opera. (St Leaven in Takashimaya is my personal favorite!) Most cafes and coffee shops throughout the city offer at least one or two seasonal treats during the month of December as well.
LISTEN TO CHRISTMAS CAROLS
Whether you’re content to simply enjoy the melodies of others or you feel like spontaneously breaking into song yourself, it’s not a proper Christmas without Christmas carols! There are several organized Christmas carol concerts that take place in Singapore at Christmas, the most highly regarded of which are the concerts at St Andrew’s Cathedral. (Schedule for 2017 can be found here.) If you don’t mind buying a ticket to hear Christmas carols, there are excellent concerts on weekends at Gardens by the Bay’s Christmas Wonderland event. Other than that, if you get lucky, you just might stumble across several informal (though no less holiday cheer-inducing) Christmas carol performances while shopping on Orchard Road. Your best chance for seeing these will be on Orchard between Scotts Road and Bideford Road on weekends and evenings in December!
GIVE ICE SKATING IN THE TROPICS A GO
Feeling brave this holiday season? Ice skating is one of the most popular holiday traditions in countries a little further north of the equator, and while you wouldn’t normally expect that tradition to carry over into the tropics, Singapore makes sure that if you want to make a fool of yourself on the ice, you totally can. There are two permanent ice rinks in Singapore – The Rink at JCube in East Jurong and Kallang Ice World at Kallang Leisure Center. Both rinks offer 2-hour skating sessions and the price of your ticket includes skates rental.
If you want to skate somewhere with a more Christmasy atmosphere, your best option is a ticket to “Skate Under the Stars” at Christmas Wonderland. The only downside? Because it’s outside, the rink is obviously not made of ice. Instead, you’ll be skating on a high-tech, made-to-look-like-ice-but-isn’t sheet of plastic. For that reason, this option may be best for kids who will find the smaller rink less intimidating and the skating aids adorably cute.
MAKE IT MAGICAL FOR THE KIDS
Speaking of kids, if you have young ones, there are a number of ways to make the holidays magical in Singapore. A visit to Santa should be the first thing on your list. You’ll find jolly St Nick at Santa’s Workshop in Tanglin Mall on Saturdays and Sundays in December from 2:30-5pm, at A Merry Little Christmas Festival on Orchard from 6 to 10 December, and at Santa’s Grotto inside Christmas Wonderland from 1 to 26 December. For a little “snow” in Singapore, check out the daily Blizzard Time snow sessions at Christmas Wonderland, visit Tanglin Mall any evening from 11 November to 1 January for an especially foamy snow avalanche experience, or enjoy snow showers on the Level 1 plaza at Orchard Gateway every half hour from 7:30-9pm in December.
Looking for carnival rides for little ones? Christmas Wonderland has twice the rides and games this year as they’ve had in past years. For both younger and older kids, Universal Studios offers A Universal Christmas from 1 December to 1 January featuring a whole slew of special Christmas shows and attractions in addition to their usual rides and games.
SCHEDULE A CHRISTMAS BRUNCH
If you can’t indulge a little at Christmas, then when can you? Several of Singapore’s luxury hotels pull out all the stops at Christmas to provide those who would rather avoid the kitchen at all costs (and the inevitable clean-up) with a holiday feast to remember. From inventive international buffets to multi-course fine dining, there are a seemingly endless array of options available for those looking for an effortless Christmas Day meal. Several locations known for their epic Christmas Day brunches are Edge at the Pan Pacific, The Line at Shangri-La Singapore, and Mezza 9 at the Grand Hyatt. (Book early as the most popular venues tend to get reserved quickly!) Not looking to spend $150+ per head? Both Jamie’s Italian and Open Farm Community offer more affordable Christmas brunch options.
The most affordable option that doesn’t even require you to change out of your pajamas on Christmas Day? Make your own Christmas brunch! (If you’re not feeling up to cooking the whole meal, you can order all sorts of dishes from Cold Storage to be picked up on or before Christmas.)
DON’T MISS SINGAPORE’S INCREDIBLE CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND
Have you noticed a recurring theme throughout this post? Singapore’s Christmas Wonderland is your one-stop shop for Christmas markets, carnival rides, Santa visits, faux snow storms, caroling, ice skating, and extraordinary holiday light displays. Nowhere in Singapore is the holiday spirit more palpable than Christmas Wonderland. It truly has it all. Located at Gardens by the Bay, Christmas Wonderland runs from 1 to 26 December.
While there is an entrance fee to get in, it is well worth the money since many of Christmas Wonderland’s best attractions are free. Santa’s Grotto, the Festive Market and Luminarie light sculptures, Christmas carol concerts at the Cassa Armonica, Blizzard Time snow storms at the Spalliera, and the special Christmas edition of the Garden Rhapsody show are all included in the price of your ticket. Ice skating, tokens for carnival rides and games, and tickets into the Circus Abyssinia show carry separate fees. Tickets are sold online and at the gates, but you’ll save a little cash if you purchase in advance. (Tickets also increase in price the closer to Christmas, so keep that in mind!) If you only have time to do one thing in Singapore at Christmas, this should be it! Happy holidays, everybody!
Note: All dates are for the 2017 Christmas season. Please visit individual event websites for future dates!
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