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Christmas light-up. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Christmas season heralds a fever-pitch of shopping and dining in Singapore. Orchard Road channels the bulk of this holiday hubbub, transforming itself into a reel of glitzy Christmas displays. It’s an annual tradition, called“Christmas on a Great Street,” that begins mid-November. “Snow” falls on Tanglin Mall; giant Christmas trees go up at Ngee Ann City and ION Orchard. All 2.2 kilometers of shopping malls are bent on out-decorating each other for the title of “Best Dressed Building.”

Gardens by the Bay holds its own with Singapore’s biggest yuletide fair. Spanning 35,000 square meters within the park, “Christmas Wonderland” is a smorgasbord of European-themed marvels: light sculptures (called the Luminarie, at the Golden Garden), a Christmas bazaar (the Festive Market at the Supertree Grove), a slew of carnival rides (the Fairground near The Meadow), and a toy and flower exhibit (the Christmas Toyland display at the Flower Dome). There’s more yet at the ice palace, an ice-skating rink, Santa’s cottage, and a unique dining experience in the form of a traveling tent, the “Spiegeltent,” from the Netherlands.

Singaporeans cap off the holidays with a New Year’s countdown party at Marina Bay. Thousands come to dine, drink, and soak in the bayfront displays, eager for the fireworks show that welcomes the New Year.

Christmas light-up around Orchard Road. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.
Christmas light-up. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.

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For similar festivals that train a spotlight on the local culture, visit Malaysia’s Sabah Fest; Thailand’s Loi Krathong Festival; and Vietnam’s Hue Festival.  For other festivals in the month of December, check out Brunei’s observation of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday; Cambodia’s Sea Festival; and the Philippines’ own Christmas celebrations.