Orchard Road dresses up for Christmas

SINGAPORE - Orchard Road's famous annual Christmas light-up will this year include a chance for visitors to snap a special photographic memento of the decorations.

Specially designed glittering structures have been set up at different points along the shopping belt featuring festive towers, stars and diamonds.

The seven set pieces, intended as photographic backdrops, are part of this year's transformation of the shopping belt into a winter wonderland. This year's light-up, back for its 30th year, is called Christmas on A Great Street, and will run from Nov 23 to Jan 5.

Office workers will also get a better chance of enjoying the display. The light-up, stretching 2.2km from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura, will begin earlier each evening during the six-week period than in previous years.

The street will be lit at 6.30pm instead of the usual 7pm so office workers can catch a glimpse of the lights before heading home for the day, said Mrs May Sng, chairman of light-up organiser Orchard Road Business Association.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will switch on the lights during a ceremony held at 6pm at Shaw House Urban Plaza on Nov 23.

Volunteers will be giving out 5,000 battery-operated candles outside Ion Orchard that day. The organisers have pledged to donate $1 to the Community Chest for every candle distributed to the public.

As with the past 23 years, Japanese electronics firm Hitachi is the main sponsor for the light-up.

During the light-up period, shoppers who spend at least $200 on their MasterCard at participating merchants will receive a $10 shopping voucher.

This is limited to the first 500 cardholders at each participating mall per week from Nov 23 to Dec 20, and on a while-stocks-last basis from Dec 21 to Jan 5.

To add to the festive cheer, 11 malls will be participating in a best dressed building contest.

The public can vote for the building with their favourite decorations on a free mobile app called @Orchard from Nov 23 to Dec 8.

Six winners will each get $500 worth of shopping vouchers while three runners-up will each get $250.

Other highlights include a mass carolling event at the Tong Building plaza on Christmas Eve, and a concert on Christmas Day by Celebrate Christmas in Singapore, a non-profit body supported by the National Council of Churches.

About 5.35 million people visited Orchard Road during last year's festive light-up.


Digital walking map for shoppers

This holiday season, shoppers on Orchard Road will be able to navigate their way around the shopping hub with the help of a new digital map that can be downloaded to their mobile devices.

Launched by the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) on Tuesday, the Orba Walking Map gives users step-by-step instructions on how to get from one place to another using underpasses and short cuts linking the malls.

The app will be updated to take into account roadworks and renovations in the area that may cause pedestrian traffic to be diverted.

Users have to enter their starting point and destination based on building names and common landmarks such as MRT stations. The map is available with the free @Orchard app.

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