As part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the River Hongbao took over the Float at Marina Bay downtown.
The River Hongbao is an 11 day celebration that has been ushering in CNY every year since 1987. It is free to the public every day of the 10-day run from 2pm – 11pm. Thousands of people flock to the festival eager to experience the giant lanterns, the live entertainment, and/or the mouth-watering food stalls all watched over by the God of Fortune.
It really is sensory overload!
By the way, the Float at Marina Bay is the world’s largest floating stage! It has stadium seating for 30,000 people and hosts an array of events throughout the year. Picture potential is ample as the Float at Marina Bay sits almost directly across the water from Marina Bay Sands so you get the gorgeous MBS floating in the background of all of your pictures.
We made our way downtown (walking fast, faces passed, and I’m homebound…) to check out the festivities ourselves. Each night of the 11 day run has a different theme but the celebration stays generally the same throughout.
Everything was set up like a carnival so it was funny to make our way to the food stalls and see the Singaporean version of carnival food. Seafood skewers, chicken karaage (fried chicken), deep fried fish balls, sweet and savory giant dumplings – the lineup was immense!
We jumped around and nibbled at a few different things. Japanese Crabmeat Pizza – kind of like a cole slaw, eggy, crabmeat omelette cake doused in chili sauce. It was definitely the most interesting of the bunch but pretty delish!
BBQ grilled squid on a stick – meh but cool #instapotential
Giant roast pork bun
We explored every nook of the River Hongbao. Everywhere you turned, different breeds of dog lanterns greeted you with little signs detailing that specific breed’s attributes and why their characteristics would bring health and prosperity to the new year.
Some even brought their four legged friends along to dispense luck on the spot!
Along with the dog lanterns, their were lanterns for each zodiac sign set up all along the arena with people scrambling to take selfies with their own zodiacs.
We, on the other hand, decided it would bring us the most luck to take selfies with all of the zodiacs.
This year also marked the first year that the River Hongbao had an indoor exhibition. The exhibit, titled “My Home, My New Year” followed the evolution of lunar New Year celebrations from past to present told from the point of view of a fictional character who grows up poor in a rural kampong (village), before moving into government sponsored HDB housing, and finally settling in modern day in a high rise apartment.
It was really interesting to walk through and see what a traditional house set up would look like in each setting. I learned so much! Did you know that parents wiping their children’s mouths after dinner was a Hokkien custom to seek forgiveness from the gods for any inappropriate remarks made by children?
It was really impossible to get bored with everything going on!
Singing, instruments, and dancing rung out from the mainstage throughout the entire the entire evening. At 9pm, everyone paused to take in the nightly fireworks and laser show culminating in the God of Fortune spraying gold glitter over the entire arena for luck.
We had a great time at our first River Hongbao festival. There was so much excitement and everyone was so happy – it’d be difficult not to get swept up in it!
After spending the evening at River Hongbao, I think we should have a fair share of luck to last us a bit. I’d say the year of the dog has been pretty good to us so far.