Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown to take on modern twist

SINGAPORE - Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and this year, celebrations of the ancient festival will be jazzed up with a modern twist.

For the first time, the annual celebrations in the Chinatown precinct will feature an interactive element. Visitors can bring an art piece known as the "Mother Tree" to life by posting photographs and videos on to social media platforms using the hashtag #CNY2016SG.

Every 18 posts with the hashtag uploaded on platforms like Facebook and Instagram will trigger an 18-seconds-long light show of golden spotlights and fairy lights, in the tree located on the Garden Bridge above Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road.

This feature was unveiled to the media on Tuesday evening (Jan 12), during a preview of the Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2016.

Organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), the official light up and opening ceremony will take place this Saturday (Jan 16) and end on March 8. The first day of Chinese New Year is on Feb 8.

Visitors to the Chinese precinct will also be dazzled by a number of other events, including a street bazaar, a lion dance competition and a display of 2,668 handcrafted lanterns in the shape of monkeys, peaches, spring blossoms and gold zodiac coins. The lanterns were designed in partnership with students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Students from the Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication will also be putting up "My Father Tongue" exhibition at the Chinatown Heritage Centre from Jan 28 to March 8. The exhibition will feature interesting customs to the three main Chinese dialect groups in Singapore - Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew.

As part of this year's celebrations, the Kreta Ayer- Kim Seng CCC is organising Harmony Night on Jan 30. Held for the first time, it will bring together 11 Chinese clan associations, religious groups and voluntary welfare groups as well as 500 residents of Jalan Besar GRC and Potong Pasir SMC. The night will feature performances in celebrations of different cultures, religions and dialect groups in Singapore.

Dr Lily Neo, who is MP for the Jalan Besar GRC and adviser to Jalan Besar GRC Grassroots Organisations (Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng), said: "The Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore are a reminder of the richness and vibrancy of the Chinese culture. It is a festive occasion enjoyed and appreciated not only by the Chinese community but also other racial communities as well as overseas tourists in Singapore."

Mr Kenneth Lim, director of cultural precincts at the Singapore Tourism Board, said: "The Chinese New Year Celebrations in Chinatown have become a highly anticipated festival that injects vibrancy to the precinct, and showcases to visitors the rich multicultural heritage of Singapore."

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