Pondering about dragons at this year’s Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-Up.
It has happened again! So let me dive straight into the question of, is this year’s Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-Up worth visiting?
Is the main dragon showpiece seriously that … comical? Are the rest of the street lights and displays worth the traveling time and crowds? What about the bazaar? Is anything special happening this year?
Well … hmm. Hmm.
First off, I expected “Chinatown dragon 2024” to be grander and more inventive; a long nian (dragon year) is always keenly anticipated, after all. And yes, that (now) notorious shot did immediately remind me of the late Hong Kong comedian Richard Ng.
The street lights, for one reason or another, also aren’t as elaborate as I thought they would be. To me, this is weird because there’s just so much you could do with the Chinese dragon as far as Chinese festive decorations are concerned. The auspicious beast is a core motif of Eastern oriental design.
But, as those who have visited would tell you, the entire light-up is far from awful. Look at the main dragon after it’s illuminated, and from the sides, and it’s actually not that laughable. Let me just highlight, too, that the notorious shot was obviously taken from the overhead bridge connecting Chinatown Point and People’s Park Centre, using a telescopic focal length. That degree of zoom compresses depth and that’s why the snout seems squashed into a human-like face.
Look at the showpiece from the usual spots at the Eu Tong Sen junction and it’s not comical at all. Admittedly, it’s hardly the best-looking dragon in Singapore this 2024 spring season, but no! It’s not terrible. I think it somewhat resembles the Donghai Longwang (东海龙王 | Eastern Ocean Dragon King) from some 80s TV shows, which is fine by me.
As for the festive bazaar at Temple Street, there’s a fair bit to see. Nothing unusual or special, to be clear, but if it’s Lunar New Year ambience you’re looking for, it’s all over. The bazaar was crowded with happy shoppers when I visited on Saturday afternoon and Monday evening.
And oh, the Chinese zodiac lanterns at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple are the must-see this year. All twelve animals are adorably represented. There are, let’s see, three illuminated dioramas honoring the incoming year too.
All are lovely for selfies and kids.
Celebrating Chinese New Year 2024 at Singapore Chinatown
Festive Bazaar at Temple Street
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Festive Displays
And Over at Chinatown Point …
Yes! It is now a yearly custom for Chinatown Point to display otters as the stars of their Chinese New Year decorations.
As always, the otters are pretending to be zodiac animals too. They are also having hotpot for their reunion dinner! Hopefully, they are contented with their feast and don’t go about hunting for fish …
Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-Up 2024 ends on Mar 9, 2024.