7 ways to get into the Christmas spirit in Singapore

7 ways to get into the Christmas spirit in Singapore

It's that time of year again. Never mind the equator, Singapore's determined to celebrate
Let it snow? Well that's not happening in Singapore but that doesn't mean we can't get into the festive spirit.

Christmas in the topics. What a joke.

With Singapore’s wet, humid weather and no change in seasons, it can be hard sometimes to get into the Christmas mood.

Yet the good people of Singapore try –- every year, and in many ways -- to liven up the Christmas spirit.

Beside the elaborate lights and festivities on Orchard Road, here are some of this year’s best ways to have yourselves a very merry Christmas.

1. Walk through a Christmas wonderland

Trees are are important part of Christmas, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ “Trees of the World” has put up 300 of them.

Tropical trees and not Christmas trees, but the lights and decorations make them feel like Christmas.

Done up by different organizations, community groups and individuals, including the German Embassy, the British High Commission and the Norwegian Embassy, these trees light up the entire length of the Botanic Gardens, from Tanglin Gate to Bukit Timah Gate, and cut a beautiful sight at night. Perfect for a late evening stroll.

Through January 1. 1 Cluny Road, +65 6471 7361; www.sbg.org.sg

2. Play with “snow” balls of foam

Topping off Singapore’s Christmas snow experience has to be Tanglin Mall’s annual snow fest.

Snow machines spit out snow foam, sending kids (and some grown-ups) into peals of laughter. Wade through it, fling it, cover your friends in it -- and pretend it’s the real stuff.

Through January 2, Monday-Friday 7:30 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 7:30 p.m.-8 p.m., 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 163 Tanglin Road, www.tanglinmall.com.sg

3. Inhale the scent of real Christmas trees

Some years ago real Christmas trees started making an appearance in Singapore and now they are everywhere each holiday season.

A good place to pick one up is the plant nurseries in Thomson, like Far East Flora (565 Thomson Road, +65 6251 2323; www.fareastflora.com) and Island Nursery (Plot 13, Joan Road/Thomson Road, +65 6254 9867; www.islandgroup.com.sg) where the trees are shipped in by the container load.

Come when the trees are all lined up in these nurseries’ yards and inhale their wonderful scent, which instantly persuades you to have one of these in your home, no matter the size of your apartment.

4. Watch a Christmas pantomime, lah

W!ld Rice's pantomine "Aladdin" will have you heaving ho-ho-ho!Every year theater company W!ld Rice takes a Christmas pantomime and gives it a local twist.

This year "Aladdin" gets theater director Glen Goei’s pantomime treatment, reinterpreted with Straits Chinese nonyas and towkays on a comical journey to Malacca and the Batu Caves, in addition to this fable’s traditional flying carpets, magic lamps and genies.

Throw in a couple of “Singapore Idol” starlets -- Hardy Mirza and Sylvia Ratonel -- singing mash-ups of favorite pop hits, and you have a show that has fun mass appeal.

Through December 17. Drama Centre Theatre, National Library, 100 Victoria St., +65 6837 9577; www.wildrice.com.sg

5. Go ice-skating

Get a winter fix with a spot of ice-skating at Kallang Ice World.

Leisure skaters make up the bulk of the users with the occasional serious or competitive skater making heads turn with twirls and jumps. The rink is in pretty good shape, though it can get a bit wet when crowded so come at off-peak hours.

#03-05/09 Kallang Leisure Park, 5 Stadium Walk, +65 6348 1123; www.leisurepark.com.sg

6. Be a glutton: Have a Christmas feast

Not your ordinary turkey, Goodwood Park Hotel serves up a local soya sauce version. Nothing makes it feel more like Christmas than a traditional holiday meal.

Goodwood Park Hotel always does a good job with its signature mix of old fashioned and fusion-style Christmas dishes.

This year its deli is offering a roasted Yorkshire pork rack with apple sauce and potato gratin and, if you want something newfangled, the poached soy sauce turkey with bean curd and scented rice is a Christmas take on local favorite chicken rice.
22 Scotts Road, +65 6737 7411; www.goodwoodparkhotel.com

7. Get into the spirit of giving

Doing good adds to the Christmas spirit and charitable opportunities abound during Yuletide.

Here are three charities that we know are worth a contribution.

Migrant Voices, a community arts charity, gives migrant workers the chance to express their artistic talents and in so doing lead fuller lives. Visit an exhibition by Migrant Voices this Christmas, “Inside Out,” which displays photographs taken by migrant workers in Singapore (through December 23; Objectifs, 56A Arab St.; +65 6293 9782; www.migrantvoices.org).

Riverkids (www.riverkidsproject.org) is a Singapore-founded and led, Cambodia-based charity that helps prevent child trafficking through providing education, healthcare and social support to families at risk. To raise much-needed funds for 2012, they are selling fair-trade silk Christmas ornaments that you can either buy, or sell on their behalf.

ACRES (www.acres.org.sg) is a passionate animal welfare group that has rescued and cared for dozens of wild creatures. It deals with about 70 rescued wild animals every month, and is looking for animal benefactors -- at S$30/month -- to help with their care and, hopefully, release.

Elaine Ee writes about Singapore, the city she lives in, covering the arts, events, personalities and social issues. Her stories have appeared in Time Out SingaporeTatler HomesFood & Travel and Jetstar Asia. She’s also an editor at publichouse.sg, a Singapore community-driven website run by socially conscious denizens. When she’s not at her laptop, she practises Bikram yoga, spends time with her three kids and makes it a point to keep trying something new. 

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