Dazzling dragons for the Year of the Dragon at annual Chinatown street light-up till Mar. 9

Very festive.

Ilyda Chua | January 20, 2024, 02:36 PM



As Chinese New Year approaches, Chinatown has been decked out in lights to welcome the Year of the Dragon.

The light-up will last from Jan. 19 to Mar. 9.

The festivities will also include a countdown party, Chinese New Year fairs,  a lion dance competition, and stage shows.

Launch ceremony

The official light-up ceremony took place on Jan. 19 at Kreta Ayer Square.

It was attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his wife Ho Ching, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo and other MPs for Jalan Besar GRC – Senior Minister of State Heng Chee How, Mayor Denise Phua, and Wan Rizal.

Lee praised the "dazzling" decor and the dragon-themed lanterns on his Facebook and Instagram pages.

He also thanked Teo, the MP of the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng constituency in Jalan Besar GRC, and her organising committee, grassroots leaders, and volunteers for making the ceremony a "joyful event for all!"

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Photo from Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook


The light-up extends along New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road, and Upper Cross Street.

Here are some highlights:

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Apart from the exhibition of lights, there will be a countdown party with firecrackers on Feb. 9 to mark the start of the Chinese New Year.

Festive fairs will take place in the area until the same day, at which visitors can purchase Chinese New Year goodies and decorations.

Other activities include weekend stage shows at Kreta Ayer Square and a lion dance competition at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre between Jan. 27 and 28.

As a bonus, just like last year, visitors will also be able to take home lanterns from the light up as part of the Adopt-a-Lantern initiative from Feb. 22 to Mar. 1.

Photo from chinatown_festivals/Instagram

Looks better at night

Funnily enough, the display was less well-received prior to the light-up.

Netizens on Facebook commented that the centrepiece dragon diorama looked "weird" and resembled "Shrek with a dragon's mouth".

Photo from Lik Wee/Facebook

Others noticed yet another moderately uncanny resemblance:

Image from SGAG

In response, three student volunteers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) who worked on the lanterns told Today that they have taken the criticism in stride.

“With every bad comment, we take it as a learning point and move on from them to improve our next design,” Gan Bei Ru, a 22-year-old volunteer, said.

She added that while there was a gap between the original design and the actual construction and fabrication process, "at least 80 per cent of [their] designs are coming to life".

This was "quite heartening to see", she said.

Either way, it appears that while they're not the prettiest in the daytime, the dragons look quite different displayed in their full glory.

For your reference, this is what the much-disparaged diorama looked after the lights were turned on:

Photo by Wong Li Jie

Talk about a glow-up.

Top image by Wong Li Jie