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The ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore

Everything you need to know about what to see, eat and do this Chinese New Year

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations
Photography: Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee/Ravi Prakash

Every year, Singapore throws a massive bash to celebrate Chinese New Year. As the start of the new traditional Chinese calendar year is one of the most major events in Singapore, it's no surprise that the city is painting the town red to usher in the Year of the Rat this 2020. The festive period runs from the last day of the final month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th day of the first month. This year, celebrations take place from January 25 to February 8.

Don't blink an eye as the city amps up the annual celebration with all your favourite festive tunes, family reunion dinners, colourful parades, stunning fireworks displays and plenty of lion dances. Read on to find out the best Chinese New Year activities happening around town, which performances to catch and the top restaurants to book for your family get-togethers.

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The beginner’s guide to Chinese New Year traditions, etiquette and superstitions
Things to do

The beginner’s guide to Chinese New Year traditions, etiquette and superstitions

Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival), with its bright colours, is considered to be the most important event in the Chinese calendar. It is marked by the arrival of spring, and celebrates the end of one Chinese zodiac and the beginning of the next. It's also the time where you gather with your family and friends, and stuff yourself silly with snacks and goodies. There's a lot to Chinese New Year to know and learn about. From the legends to the traditions and etiquette, here's your comprehensive guide before we usher in the Year of the Pig.  RECOMMENDED: The ultimate ang pao guide for Chinese New Year and where to donate clothes, books, furniture and toys in Singapore

The ultimate guide to Chinatown
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The ultimate guide to Chinatown

There's no other neighbourhood that throws a bigger CNY bash than Chinatown

The best restaurants to have reunion dinner and celebrate Chinese New Year in Singapore
Restaurants

The best restaurants to have reunion dinner and celebrate Chinese New Year in Singapore

Keep the turkeys and bring out the pineapple tarts – it’s time to usher in another Chinese New Year. This time, we’re welcoming 2020 and the year of the rat with an abundance of festive treats: from unique yu sheng creations to luxurious variants of pen cai stuffed with auspicious ingredients. If you aren’t planning (or too lazy) to prepare a feast for reunion dinner, we’ve got you covered with these special Lunar New Year meals. RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore and the best Chinese New Year events in Singapore

The best Chinese New Year events in Singapore
Things to do

The best Chinese New Year events in Singapore

Besides filling your bellies with delectable Chinese dishes from all those reunion dinners and visiting your relatives from every part of Singapore, fill your Chinese New Year calendar with more gorgeous sights and sounds, colourful parades, lion dances, illuminated lanterns and stunning fireworks displays to revel in all the glorious celebrations. Nothing like ringing in the Year of the Rat with the best Chinese New Year events in town – besides gleefully receiving red packets, of course. RECOMMENDED: Guide to Chinese New Year and the beginner's guide to Chinese New Year traditions, etiquette and superstitions

Where to watch Chinese New Year fireworks in Singapore
Things to do

Where to watch Chinese New Year fireworks in Singapore

The stunning sights of giant lanterns, vibrant traditional Chinese decor and lion dance performances in Singapore can only mean one thing: Chinese New Year. And witnessing dazzling fireworks lighting up the night sky is almost a rite of passage when ringing in the new year. On top of that, the city is buzzing with a plethora of enticing events, festivals and activities to revel in the glorious celebrations. Gather the family for the best places to usher in the Year of the Rat with a bang – and a visual treat for all. RECOMMENDED: Guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore and the best Chinese New Year events in Singapore

The most Instagrammable Chinese New Year decorations in Singapore
Things to do

The most Instagrammable Chinese New Year decorations in Singapore

The Chinese New Year festivities truly begin when the streets of Singapore are dressed to the nines with attention-grabbing lanterns and life-sized installations. Leading the pack this year is the rat. The star zodiac animal is scurrying his way around the city via horticultural displays at Changi Airport, dazzling floats at Chingay, brightly lit lanterns at Chinatown, and more. And unlike actual rats, these Instagram-worthy ones are selfie-ready for the 'gram. RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore and the best Chinese New Year events in Singapore

The best boutiques and shops in Singapore for modern cheongsams and batik
Shopping

The best boutiques and shops in Singapore for modern cheongsams and batik

Trends come and go but style is forever. And where better to turn for inspiration than traditional garb that are timeless, thoughtful and classy? They shouldn’t be saved just for special occasions either – here are the brands making heritage pieces tastefully modern and wearable. RECOMMENDED: Eco-friendly products you can buy in Singapore and the best upcoming pop-up stores and flea markets in Singapore

Your Chinese New Year greetings cheat sheet
Comedy

Your Chinese New Year greetings cheat sheet

So you're visiting a friend's/colleague's/relative's house this Chinese New Year and you just can't find the right words to say? Here are eight essentials you should always have in your back pocket – nestled next to all those red packets. And if all else fails, make a beeline to the snack table and feast because that's what the Year of the Rat is all about. RECOMMENDED The ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore and a beginner's guide to Chinese New Year traditions and etiquette

The ultimate ang pao guide for Chinese New Year
Things to do

The ultimate ang pao guide for Chinese New Year

There's no rule to how much you should give in a red packet – or ang pao – on Chinese New Year, as long as it is within the means. Or is it? Traditionally the ang pao is handed out by married couples to their parents, single adults and children as a token of good fortune and new year blessings. And it's also a big deal. We're in no authority to be dictating how many notes to stuff in that embossed red packet you selected so carefully for the special day, just remember to keep the amount even. But since you're unfortunately married and the burden of ang pao-giving befalls you, we'll try to keep it real – in this economy and all.  RECOMMENDED: The best events in Singapore in 2019 and where to donate clothes, books, furniture and toys in Singapore

The best Chinese restaurants in Singapore
Restaurants

The best Chinese restaurants in Singapore

Throw a stone and it'll most likely land at the doorstep of one of the many Chinese restaurants in Singapore. We've got traditional outlets like Beng Hiang that have been around since our grandparents' youth as well as modern digs like Birds of a Feather by young chefs looking to reinterpret their culinary history. Here are our picks on the Chinese restaurants to visit in Singapore. RECOMMENDED: The best traditional Chinese dialect restaurants in Singapore and the best modern Chinese restaurants in Singapore

The best steamboat and hot pot restaurants in Singapore
Restaurants

The best steamboat and hot pot restaurants in Singapore

Perfect for rainy days, reunion dinners or just because, a meal around a bubbling hot pot never fails to deliver on the satisfaction factor. From the frothy and flavourful broth to an extensive range of ingredients and a host of side dishes, the hot pot offers an irreplicable sense of communion and strengthens camaraderie between friends and loved ones. So if it's time for another catch-up session with your makan kakis, here's where to head to.  RECOMMENDED: The best supper spots in Singapore and The best healthy restaurants in Singapore    

Traditional Chinese dialect restaurants in Singapore
Restaurants

Traditional Chinese dialect restaurants in Singapore

Whether you’re Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese or Hakka, we’ve got your family dinner plans sorte

The best pineapple tarts in Singapore
Restaurants

The best pineapple tarts in Singapore

It's a fact. There is no Chinese New Year without pineapple tarts. And with one tart clocking in at 82 calories, we definitely don't want to be stuffing our faces with anything less than the best. We put 10 popular pineapple tart brands to the test and rank them from the best to the worst. You're welcome. RECOMMENDED: The ultimate ang pao guide for Chinese New Year and unique local snacks to try in Singapore  

The best mala snacks in Singapore
Restaurants

The best mala snacks in Singapore

Mala is all the rage now. From the hotpot soup bases to the fragrant stir-fry dish you can find at most hawker centres these days, the numbing and spicy Chinese sauce that is key to Sichuan and Chongqing cuisine has won the collective hearts and numbed the tongues of Singaporeans everywhere. Want a hit of spice without committing to a full dish? These mala-flavoured snacks taste close enough to the real deal. Prepare to sweat up a storm – it's always good to have a glass of water on hand too – don't say we didn't warn you! RECOMMENDED: Unique local snacks to try in Singapore and the best pineapple tarts in Singapore

7 popular salted egg fish skin brands ranked from best to worst
Restaurants

7 popular salted egg fish skin brands ranked from best to worst

Typically, trends tend to die down after a while. However, in the case of the salted egg yolk – especially when combined with the crunchy crisp of fish skin – some things become too delicious to stop. Whether you like the treat for its mouth-watering flavors or for its addictive crunch, you’ll be glad we made a list ranking the most popular brands of salted egg yolk fish skins in Singapore for you to try out. Crunch away – just don’t forget to buy some mints too. RECOMMENDED: Unique local snacks to try and old-school childhood snacks for nostalgia

7 popular bak kwa brands ranked from best to worst
Restaurants

7 popular bak kwa brands ranked from best to worst

Beef jerky? Boring. Try bak kwa instead. This sweet and savoury snack typically made by combining preserved pork and spice gets particular popular around Chinese New Year because of its flaming red colour. Among pineapple tarts and other classic CNY snacks, bak kwa is probably one of the most coveted treats at the table so make sure you choose the best so you don't disappoint. Plus, 2019 is the Year of the Pig so what better way than to celebrate with sweet and salty porky goodness? RECOMMENDED: Unique local snacks to try and old-school childhood snacks for nostalgia

Where to get Chinese New Year decorations in Singapore
Shopping

Where to get Chinese New Year decorations in Singapore

What is a festival without any decorations? Now that Christmas is done and dusted, it's time for the little piggies to come out. It is after all, the Year of The Pig. While you'll see the rotund little fella on most of the decor items like paper decals, banner, ang paos and more, it's possible to keep things classy, elegant and understated. Unless bold is what you're looking for... We've rounded up the stores in town for those last-minute decorations in Singapore. Quick stock up on all you can get or else you will never stop hearing that aunty you see once a year complain for hours. Huat are you waiting for – it's shopping time. RECOMMENDED: The best craft stores for all your DIY needs in Singapore and the best home decor and furniture stores in Singapore

Where to get your fortune told in Singapore
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Where to get your fortune told in Singapore

Yeah sure, fortune telling all sounds very hocus-pocus. But you’d be lying if you said you aren’t just a little curious about what the future might bring. From feng shui masters to Tarot readers to ‘astro-palmists’, the fortune tellers here come from as many backgrounds as there are cultures in Singapore. Curious, we suspended our disbelief, put our fates on the line and visited some spiritual professionals to find out more about our sordid – or splendid – lives. As they say, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. Won't lie, we were pleasantly surprised by how it turned out! RECOMMENDED: 10 local myths and superstitions every Singaporean should know and the best supernatural trails in Singapore

The best Chinese New Year movies
Film

The best Chinese New Year movies

Forget your usual tub of sweet and salted popcorn and grab some bak kwa and pineapple tarts. It's time to kick it with the good old Chinese classics, the hottest Hollywood blockbusters and even some light-hearted Singapore titles this Chinese New Year. Here are the ones we're binge-watching this festive season. RECOMMENDED: The best Singapore films to watch and the best upcoming movies in Singapore  

Dream job: lion dance performer
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Dream job: lion dance performer

Maadesh Ravindran, 17 Performer for He Xin Lion and Dance Arts Troupe