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KAWS:HOLIDAY
Photograph: AllRightsReserved

The hottest events that happened in Singapore in 2021

All the wacky stuff that happened this year, in 11 digestible bites

Written by
Izza Sofia
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With plenty of things to do in this concrete jungle, we can safely say that a boring Singapore is a myth. From the coolest art-stravaganza like Singapore Art Week to the KAWS exhibition at Marina Bay, there's always a myriad of things to do, see and eat. As the year almost comes to an end, let's look back at what 2021 had to offer us. With some events making their highly anticipated return after their 2020 cancellation, others definitely took us by surprise. 

Scroll down and read some of the juiciest occurrences that happened on our island.

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2021 highlights

Start the year with some art
Photograph: Singapore Art Week

Start the year with some art

January

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival and Singapore Art Week (SAW) started off the social calendar this year. For the Fringe Festival, this year's edition gave the audience the choice to catch the productions in person at the theatre or online. SAW 2021 saw over 100 programmes that allowed art lovers to discover and experience Southeast Asian art. This year's edition showcases the largest number of commissioned works to date, with over 40 Singapore-based projects across various mediums and venues – even bus stops.

The first online Chingay
Photograph: Chingay Parade

The first online Chingay

February

The Hokkien term ‘Chingay’ translates to the art of costume and masquerade which is apt for this vibrant street parade. The quintessential Singapore event is usually held during the Chinese New Year festivities, taking over the F1 Pit Building with its colourful costumes, live performances, dazzling floats and intricate props from all around the world. But this year for the first time, it went digital with a blend of old and new cultural performances, traditional and emerging art forms that highlight intricate details that cannot be usually seen at the physical parades. 

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Spice up the year with hotpot
Photograph: LongQing Hotpot

Spice up the year with hotpot

All year round

A warm satisfying hotpot meal is something Singaporeans can’t get enough of. This year saw hotpot increasing in popularity than ever before. From the flavourful broth to the wide variety of leafy vegetables and meat ingredients, to the seafood options, and to the customisable sauces – the hotpot experience is definitely one for the books. Mala hotpot is especially raved among Singaporeans and it’s not hard to see why. The spicy and numbing soup base is sure to numb your senses and make you addicted at the same time. Tuck into this chill-laden gravy at some of the best steamboat and hotpot restaurants in Singapore.

A postponed National Day Parade
Photograph: Rogan Yeoh/Unsplash

A postponed National Day Parade

August 

Singapore knows just how to party when it comes to National Day. The city usually dresses for the occasion with flags lining the buildings, patriotic songs pervading the airwaves, people wearing red and white, and of course, the National Day Parade (NDP). Here’s the NDP in a nutshell: impressive aerial displays, military parades, and multicultural performances – all wrapped up with stunning fireworks. This year’s NDP was postponed for the first time due to the pandemic restrictions. Despite the belated birthday bash, the NDP2021 served up a visual feast for spectators and those watching from home.

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The greening of Singapore
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

The greening of Singapore

All year round

This year also saw more announcements to restoring green areas and adding new parks or trails around the island. This couldn't come at a better time when Singaporeans were spending more time exploring their backyard. Popular hiking spots this year include the Rail Corridor, hidden spots like the The Lost Ark, and cycling along East Cost Park.

The return of Halloween Horror Nights
Photograph: Universal Studios Singapore

The return of Halloween Horror Nights

September-November

After taking a year off in 2020, Universal Studios Singapore's (USS) Halloween Horror Nights made a quiet return with an exhibition and smaller scare zones instead of the extravagant horror houses they usually put up. The exhibition showed off spooky behind-the-scenes look at the past nine years of the annual scare-fest and featured props and actual costumes that had been memorable. 

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Catching a glimpse of KAWS:HOLIDAY
Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Catching a glimpse of KAWS:HOLIDAY

November 

Perhaps one of the biggest art events to come to our island was KAWS:HOLIDAY which was on The Float @ Marina Bay. The exhibition featured a giant 42-metre-long sculpture by internationally-renowned artist KAWS. Though it showed for a short time, there was a lot of controversy – the exhibition was halted temporarily due to a legal case but things were worked out and almost everyone had a glimpse of the installment, even the otters.

Travel is back!
Photograph: Unsplash

Travel is back!

Second half of the year

Holidays are back on the calendar – ever since Singapore announced that travelling for leisure is now possible thanks to various arrangements with other countries. Though it comes with its hassle like multiple PCR tests, the probability of quarantine, sticking to rules in the destination an putting aside extra cash for emergencies, it hasn't totally deterred people from travelling. 

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Plenty of pop ups
Photograph: Daniel Iskandar

Plenty of pop ups

All year round

From the Museum of Ice Cream to Slurping Good!, an interactive exhibition dedicated to instant noodles to another immersive exhibition featuring Mickey Mouse, this year saw plenty of photo-worthy and fun pop-up events that mixed art, retail, activites and sometimes food.

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All year round

If you've been following the news, then you'll know that things have been a little... wild around here. In the span of two weeks, we've had reports of animal encounters that have come too close for comfort. We saw lions breaking free, a peacock attacking a girl, more reports of otters eating koi and also news of otters attacking a man.  

 

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The return of Christmas Wonderland
Photograph: Christmas Wonderland

The return of Christmas Wonderland

December - January

Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay is back, and pulls out all the stops with stunning light displays, carnival games, Christmas shopping and a Garden Rhapsody light and sound show. After going hybrid in 2020, Christmas Wonderland is back as a fully physical event – all the better for visitors to immerse in that festive cheer. 

 

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