SINGAPORE - Visitors to this year's River Hongbao can expect an interactive festival that celebrates tradition and technology.
For the first time since the annual festival's inception in 1987, the event will be transformed into a virtual playground from Jan 23 to 27, the first five days of River Hongbao (RHB) 2020.
Using their mobile devices, visitors can embark on a hunt to "catch" virtual Chinese zodiac animals at The Float @ Marina Bay in an augmented reality game called #HuntYourZodiac.
The game was developed by homegrown bank POSB - River Hongbao 2020's key sponsor - with Sqkii, creator of the popular cash hunt called Hunt the Mouse.
"The first of its kind to be introduced at RHB, the game combines Chinese New Year traditions with technology to deliver a new immersive experience that families and friends of all ages can come together to enjoy," said Mr Jeremy Soo, managing director and head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore) at DBS Bank.
To play the game, visitors must log on to the game's web application via Facebook. They can then roam the event grounds to hunt for the 12 virtual zodiac animals.
Players who find a zodiac animal that matches their own birth year can view predictions of their fortune for the year on their mobile devices. They can also catch and view predictions of other zodiac animals along the way.
Those who "catch" zodiac animals holding a hongbao or red packet can redeem cash prizes or gift vouchers on the spot via the DBS Paylah! app. Prizes are limited to one per player per day of gameplay.
God of Fortune to give hongbao daily
As in previous years, River Hongbao 2020 will also feature the all-time crowd favourite, the God of Fortune - this time in the form of Smiley the squirrel, POSB's mascot. Smiley will hand out hongbao daily on the first five days of the festival to visitors with the DBS PayLah! app installed on their mobile phone.
Besides the tech-based games, visitors will be treated to an exhibition on a very important Chinese New Year tradition: the practice of giving out hongbao.
Co-curated by the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore Chinese Girls' School students and the Lianhe Zaobao Student Correspondents' Club, the exhibition will feature more than 400 red packets - with the oldest dating back to the 1940s.
River Hongbao 2020, which runs from Jan 23 to Feb 1, is jointly organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Tourism Board and the People's Association.
The festival will also include crowd favourites such as fireworks displays on all 10 nights, as well as performances by overseas and local dance and wushu troupes.
Local delicacies unique to the six dialect groups in Singapore will also be sold in a food street with 40 stalls.
"Through River Hongbao, we aim to provide a compelling destination for Singaporeans from all walks of life to get together and enjoy the Lunar New Year festivities, and in turn, deepen family ties and strengthen community bonding," said Mr Tan Aik Hock, chairman of the River Hongbao 2020 organising committee.
The festival opens each day at 2pm and closes at 11pm. Hours are extended until 1am on Jan 24, Chinese New Year's Eve. Admission to the festival is free. For more information, visit http://riverhongbao.sg.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.