It is that time of the year again, when you hear the roar of the fighter jets every weekend, the radio starts playing Kit Chan’s “Home”, and your neighbours start putting up Singapore flags given by the Residents Committee (which you missed, again!). You’ll know, one way or another, that National Day is just around the corner.
No matter how old or young you are, what your political leanings are, or what your opinions of a mass display of military prowess might be, watching the National Day Parade (NDP) on National Day has become something of a tradition.
Growing up, my mother would prepare an early dinner on National Day that we could eat in front of the television, a rare treat for a traditional meals-at-the-dinner-table family. Even as we got older, we would make it a point to return home early enough to watch the best bits of the parade, and leave the television on for the rest of the evening as we went about doing other things.
My siblings and I loved watching the Red Lions parachuting into the parade square, the aerial displays, the big guns in the mobile column, and the fireworks. Always the fireworks. At times, we would spy for our favourite PAP MPs and opposition MPs getting to their seats, count the number of times the president stops to speak to a parade participant, stand at attention during the singing of the National Anthem, and place our hands over our hearts at the reciting of the National Pledge. Most of all, we would cry a little along with the overused clip of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew shedding a tear. (You know the one.)
But then, not all of us get the chance to watch the parade in person, simply because those coveted tickets are so difficult to ballot for.
If you managed to get tickets to the NDP on August 9, well, lucky you. But what about the rest of us who either got tickets to the previews or none at all? Well, here are 5 fun ways you can still enjoy National Day.
1. Camp out to watch the fireworks.
If the fireworks are your favourite part of the National Day Parade, you’re not alone. There are plenty of popular spots to watch the fireworks from, including the Merlion Park, Esplanade Bridge, The Promontory, MBS and even Gardens by The Bay.
But if you’re hoping to have a remotely good view, you will have to reach your decided location early, ahead of the crowds, and keep a bottle of water and an umbrella handy. You will most definitely need it for the long wait under the sun.
What if you prefer to enjoy your fireworks in air-conditioned comfort? You could reserve a table at some of the high-rise restaurants in the vicinity, like 1-Altitude or LeVel33, or book a room at Marina Bay Sands, Ritz Carlton, and JW Marriott South Beach. You might want to plan ahead and book early too, as rooms with a view of the fireworks are limited.
2. Visit The Bicentennial Experience
This year’s NDP is back at the Padang, to commemorate the 200th year after Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on our shores. There’s no better way to learn more about this year’s NDP theme than with a trip to Fort Canning Centre and watch the multimedia exhibition “From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience”. You can read more about it here.
3. Do Red & White or Singapore themed activities with the kids
Bake red velvet cake, cut star shapes out of watermelon for a snack, play with red and white playdough, or make your own paper Singapore flags and bean shakers to use while watching the NDP at home.
For the older ones, test each other’s knowledge of Singapore history with a Singapore quiz, and prepare prizes for the winners. Or read your favourite SingLit books together.
Karaoke lovers could use another twist to this quiz, you can also play “guess that Singapore song”. One person will sing one line from either a National Day song, a xinyao song, or a song that is written or performed by a Singaporean. The others will have to guess its title.
4. Host your own Singapore-themed dinner party
Decorate your home in red and white, get red and white light sticks to sway along with the mass displays, and dress in full red and white without getting judged.
If you’re a super home chef, you could whip up a sumptuous dinner of Singaporean favourites. But if you’re not, you could order in, or do a potluck dinner with your friends who are super home chefs. Your Singapore-themed party could feature local favourites like chilli crab, satay beehoon, and for dessert, you could serve up red and white traditional kueh-kueh, and red and white fruits.
Don’t forget to serve up your best red and white wines too.
5. Take a little trip around Singapore Town
We know the song, but have you ever taken the trip? It would be a good idea to visit, or revisit, the sites mentioned in the famous Singapore song. While road closures may make it difficult to visit by car, you could take a walking tour, or book a ride on an amphibious vessel which brings you through Marina Bay, Esplanade, and the Civic District.
Bear in mind that you will be fighting the crowds for the NDP parade, so an early slot might be advisable. The tours start from 10am, and you could still take in some other sights and head home before the NDP crowd starts piling in.
What will you be doing for National Day? Tell us on our ZUU online Singapore Facebook page.
(By Gwyneth Yeo)
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