I love mooncakes so I always look forward to the Mooncake festival. The Mid-Autumn, Lantern, or Mooncake Festival, is not a public holiday in Singapore, as it is in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, or Vietnam.
Nonetheless, few days on the city-state’s calendar spur more pageantry from the 5.3 million-strong populace than this ancient, venerable harvest festival.
Held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, Mid-Autumn Festival has roots in the Shang Dynasty, or, put another, more impressive way, the Bronze Age. In other words, some 3,500 years ago.
With 75% of Singapore’s resident population of Chinese descent, it stands to reason that Mooncake Festival elicits a fair amount of enthusiasm when it takes place every September or October. The city-state’s Chinese diaspora is nothing if not dynamic.
With that, here’s a rundown of the top spots in Singapore for lunar festival revelry. And remember, Orchard Road hotels are the place to be.
The de facto headquarters for every Chinese festival in Singapore gets particularly merry for Mooncake Festival. The eve of the festival typically features tens of thousands of brightly-lit lanterns, multi-cultural song and dance performances and YouTube-worthy pyrotechnics. The overall spirit is very similar in nature to Chinese New Year and involves a lot of the same types of songs, dances, costumes, and the like. Street fairs and carnivals make the atmosphere that much more special and cater to scores of locals and tourists.
The precinct’s Chinatown Mid-Autumn Walking Trail is also a treat. Conducted in English or Mandarin, the walk meanders through the vital district of the city-state and provides some interesting context for Mooncake Festival-goers.
City Square Mall
City Square Mall, the first Green Mark Platinum “eco-mall” in Singapore, is a good place to score some mooncakes come Mid-Autumn time. The mall even holds a Mooncake Fair, just for the occasion, with mooncake demos and samples, music and other special events.
Metro City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Rd
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is Singapore’s signature exemplar of public architecture. Located alongside Marina Bay, this national performing arts centre is the annual home of Moonfest – A Mid-Autumn Celebration. Inaugurated in 2005, the Chinese arts festival exposes audiences to the finer points of Chinese language, arts and culture via traditional performances, workshops and talks.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive
Singapore’s Chinese Garden on Jurong Lake provides a more reflective and serene Mid-Autumn ambiance. The scene is less about mooncakes than it is about decorative lanterns and cultural performances, such as masterful displays of Shaolin Kung Fu. A host of eclectic, family-friendly activities go down here as well.
Chinese Garden, 1 Chinese Garden Rd
Gardens by the Bay
One of the city-state’s most notable uses of reclaimed land, Gardens by the Bay spans some 100 hectares. The Marina Bay attraction features three gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. All take part in Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations with extraordinary floral displays, lantern-making workshops, traditional Chinese games, competitions and various theatrical and musical performances.
Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Dr
On his recent trip to Singapore, Matthew has come back full of information that he would like to share to ensure everyone can enjoy their trip as much as he did.