Christmas in Singapore: A Unique Experience

Last updated on March 7th, 2024 at 02:42 pm

Christmas in Singapore - Christmas tree

Widely known for its diverse food and shopping attractions, Singapore is one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, and Christmas is a great time to visit. When it comes to the yuletide season, Singaporeans have a special style of celebration, with equal parts of tradition and commercial observance.

While the exchange of gifts, Christmas dinners, and home visits are quite common, some seasonal practices remain “uniquely Singapore.” In this piece created by our team here at Remitly, we’ll share some great ways to spend Christmas in Singapore and answer your burning questions about the holiday season in the country.

Christmas in Singapore: 7 Traditions to Try

From attending holiday markets to seeing Christmas lights, there are plenty of ways to get into a festive mood while spending Christmas in Singapore. Let’s explore some fun ways to enjoy a Singapore Christmas.

Orchard Road Light Up

Orchard Road lies at the heart of Singapore’s central shopping zone. Namely, Orchard refers to a street flanked by some of the busiest retail outlets in the country.

During Christmas, mall owners compete among themselves to display the most eye-catching decorations. These presentations range from street-side sculptures to hanging ornaments and the occasional snowfall display made from a machine that produces artificial snowflakes.

This time of year, Singaporeans drive down Orchard Road to admire the illuminated setups or take photos as they visit the malls. One of the most famous attractions is a 16-meter-tall Christmas tree annually set up in the Takashimaya Mall.

Participating outlets may also offer discounts and other deals, making each trip highly fulfilling, especially if you plan to do some last-minute shopping for gifts.

Sentosa’s Themed Attractions

Sentosa is an island connected to mainland Singapore via a tiny causeway. This small getaway from the central city holds some of the nation’s most luxurious hotels/resorts and attractions, such as the Universal Studios Singapore (USS) Theme Park and S.E.A. Aquarium.

You can expect many fun-filled memories for the entire family during the Advent season with unique Christmas-themed programs.

In 2019, S.E.A. Aquarium (which holds one of the largest marine tanks in the world) hosted a Glowing Ocean exhibition featuring underwater Christmas light-ups in the form of bioluminescent jellyfish.

The USS theme park organizes annual Christmas events with dazzling light shows and colorful mascots.

Christmas Wonderland

Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions. It features towering Supertree structures that form a futuristic landscape.

Since 2014, the Gardens has held an annual Christmas extravaganza that showcases brilliant decorations, light-ups, game stalls, and stage performances.

The event presents a fairground appeal, with bright and cheery holiday setups and timeless favorites: vibrant carousels, bumper cars, and carnival games for which participants may win prizes.

Luminary light arrangements, a modern substitute for candles typically used in traditional Christmas celebrations, are some of the biggest highlights of the event.

At this celebration, various food and beverage stalls serve seasonal delights that will immerse you in the festive spirit.

As reported by Jakarta Globe, past years have seen Michelin star chefs presenting an array of selections such as cheese dishes and roasted beef. Also, you can enjoy the enchanting performances of carolers, singers, dancers, and local artists at the nearby Cassa Armonica gazebo.

Christmas in Singapore

Creative Christmas Buffets

Singapore is known as a culinary hub, and Christmas proves to be a popular time to stake that claim. Tourists can expect a large variety of Christmas buffets offered by hotels, restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Aside from the traditional servings of stuffed turkey, slices of ham, and log cakes, you can look forward to Asian fusion and culinary influences from the nation’s diverse community.

You are in for a treat with sumptuous Christmas dinners unlike any you have tasted.

Celebration at the Riverside

The Singapore River was the original site of the nation’s first trading port before the water was proved too shallow for larger shipping vessels (commercial trading eventually relocated to Keppel harbor).

These days, the quayside areas of the Singapore River serve as a popular hangout with a wide variety of eateries, clubs, and shops.

Christmas celebrations at the Singapore River provide tourists with fascinating sights and sounds from the night scene and riverside dining with interesting seasonal dishes.

Vendors provide guided boat rides with decorated vessels that travel between the bustling yuletide atmosphere from both sides of the channel. Enjoy the many memorable photo opportunities as you cruise down the historic waterway.

Neighborhood Caroling

Beyond commercial celebrations, Christmas is also a time of significance for many communities to celebrate the birth of hope and social gatherings.

Churches throughout Singapore conduct caroling events during the yuletide season, a great opportunity to join in the reveling and retelling of the Christmas story.

To join, drop by St. Andrew’s Cathedral, a 186-year-old neo-gothic structure in the downtown core of the island nation, and the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore.

The caroling events organized by churches are open to all individuals, allowing you a chance to bask in the Christmas mood and take part in the joyful ambiance.

Attend the Great Bay Fiesta

If your ideal way to spend the festive season is attending a big celebration, head to the Great Bay Fiesta at the Bayfront Event Space at Marina Bay. Held every year in December, the event is a giant Christmas party that offers fun activities for the whole family.

Enjoy amusement rides and games at The Great World Carnival by Uncle Ringo, and check out the big top acts at The Great Cirque de Cascades. When you work up an appetite from all the festive cheer, head to The Great Food Fiesta for some delicious treats.

Begin Your Celebration at the Airport

Singapore’s award-winning airport ranks as one of the best in the world. It’s stocked with a chain of eateries and retail outlets across its four (and still expanding) terminals. Plus, the airport is another place to check those exchange rates when planning your budget.

The airport annually celebrates the season with a wide range of themed exhibitions and events you can immediately enjoy once you check into the city.

Past Christmas celebrations include the Tokidori Snow Holiday exhibition (featuring winter wonderland setups and eye-catching ornaments) and a Santa’s workshop nestled within an artificial valley.

Christmas in Singapore FAQs

Have questions about Christmas in Singapore? Read on for answers.

Is Christmas Day a public holiday in Singapore?

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Singapore. Most businesses close to allow people to spend the holiday with their loved ones, and government employees receive a day off to feast and relax.

Is Christmas Eve a public holiday in Singapore?

Christmas Eve isn’t a public holiday in Singapore, so most people work. However, schools take a two-week break around Christmas, so children usually won’t have school on December 24.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Singapore?

To send someone your good wishes during the holiday season in Singapore, you can say “Sheng Tan Kuai Loh,“ which is Singaporean Mandarin for “Happy Christmas.“

If you’re interacting with a Malay speaker, the correct greeting is “Selamat Hari Natal,“ and the phrase translates to “Kiṟistumas Vāḻttukka“ in Tamil.

What kinds of Christmas decorations are popular in Singapore?

Not everyone in Singapore decorates to get into the Christmas spirit, but those who do often use similar decorations to those in the West. Christmas wreaths, stockings, and nutcracker dolls are all popular things to display during the holidays.

Outside of churches, you’ll sometimes see Nativity scenes. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is well known for its life-size version displayed from December through early January.

Do they have Christmas trees in Singapore?

The classic Christmas tree has become popular in Singapore, but the ornaments used to dress up the tree are a bit unique. Singaporeans may hang teddy bears, ribbons, and candy from the branches rather than glass and plastic baubles.

Do they have Santa Claus in Singapore?

The tradition of waiting for Santa Claus is a newer part of Christmas in Singapore, but the festive figure has become increasingly popular in recent decades. You will now find people dressed up as Santa Claus at events like Christmas Wonderland and Orchard Road while the Christmas lights are on display.

Do people go to church on Christmas Eve in Singapore?

Whether people attend church on Christmas Eve in Singapore depends on their religious beliefs. Only about 19% of Singaporeans identify as Christians, so historically, going to church on Christmas Eve was uncommon in Singapore.

However, attending a midnight mass has become more appealing in recent years. Now, some people who aren’t Christian greet the arrival of Christmas Day by attending church.

Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay, Marina, Singapore

Enjoy Christmas in Singapore!

While there’s no chance to witness natural snowfall in a humid tropical nation like Singapore, its unique history and exciting lineup of events are great alternatives.

Creative Christmas menus, spectacular events, and shopping experiences across boulevards with well-decked facades reflect the country’s reputation as an urban paradise.

Singapore is a place where you can fill your holiday season with delicious food, entertainment, and unforgettable sights.