One of Singapore’s most unique charms is its incredible blend of cultures and ethnicities. Located at the very tip of one of the islands of Malaysia, Singapore is an incredible melting pot of Hindi, Buddhist, Chinese, and other cultures all congregated in one small nation. Each of these cultures has its own rituals, beliefs, and colorful festivals that must be seen to be believed. Whether you’re planning a future trip to Singapore or you’re simply curious about the country, here are a few best-known –and colorful! – festivals held all around the country at various times of the year.
This Tamil festival is a harvest festival celebrating Surya, the Sun God. Over a period of four days, Little India comes alive with ethnic dances and performances, a mini-village featuring cultural souvenirs, a mass cooking competition, and a stunning light-up display.
Participants in this Hindu festival honoring Lord Subramaniam fast and pray for up to 48 days prior to this unusual festival. During the festival, you might see some brave souls carrying spiked portable altars (kavadis) with those spikes piercing their torsos. Others carry simpler wooden kavadis or pots filled with milk.
Chinese New Year
One of the best known Asian cultural festivals in the world, the Chinese New Year is a time of great celebration. Bad luck is banished via vigorous spring cleaning, and good luck is welcomed with red and gold decorations and stunning new clothes. Some highlights of the two week festival period include the Chingay Parade and the Lion Dance competition.
This day is important to Buddhists, as they celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. During the celebrations, many Buddhists do good deeds such as giving food and money to the needy or releasing caged birds.
Dragon Boat Festival
Known by many names including Duanwu, Tuen Ng, and Double Fifth Festival (due to falling on the fifth day of the fifth month) this traditional boat race draws crowds by the thousands. Spectators dine on sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) while watching competing crews paddle to the finish line while accompanied by drums.