Colourful lanterns, mountains of mooncakes and street parades - Mid-Autumn festival is an exciting time to be in Singapore.
- When? 4th October 2017
- Where? Various locations, Singapore
- Price: Free
We’ve all sent a note to our mate in class, passing it through a closed book or even daring to through it over to them when the teacher's back was turned. Ever thought about passing it through a piece of cake? That's what the Chinese did to free Yuan China from the Mongol rule. By hiding messages in ‘mooncake’ sweets, Han people were able to communicate their plan of an uprising to others to increase support and eventually succeeded in overthrowing the Mongol rulers on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival. Fast forward hundreds of years and mooncakes are still enjoyed today by the Chinese, as part of their Mid-Autumn celebrations.
The festival, which is traditionally held to mark the end of the autumn harvest, is a big occasion in Singapore with carnivals, lantern-painting, and the Festive Bazaar making September an exciting time to visit. It’s a time for families to gather together, give thanks to one another and express their gratitude to friends, business partners and relatives by giving mooncakes.
The mooncake is said to symbolise completeness and togetherness and so is the perfect gift to express wishes for a healthy, full life. If you’re in Singapore during the festival, sampling a few mooncakes is a must. Traditionally made with egg yolk, lotus seed paste and nuts, the mooncake has revolutionised into a culinary art form with modern offerings featuring unique ingredients such as green tea, fruit and coffee beans. There’s even novelty Star Wars mooncakes on offer at Mei-Xin which would make the perfect gift for die-hard fans who already have every piece of merchandise they could get their hands on. The Grand Hyatt Singapore make their own box of snow-skin mooncakes every year with tempting flavours such as lime tequila truffle, sake truffle and caramel macchiato truffle if you’re after something really fancy.
However, we say a mooncake from a stall at the Festive Bazaar is a good place to start. Over 300 stalls line Pagoda street offering all manner of festive goodies including mooncakes, lanterns and pomelos. This forms a small part of the month-long Chinatown Mid-Autumn festival which sees locals and performers take to the streets for nightly stage shows, lantern painting workshops and competitions, beginning with the official opening ceremony.
Held at the beginning of September, the opening ceremony is a sight to behold and should not be missed. Watch out for the dragon performance, dance troupes and the official street light-up which will provide you with plenty of photos to clog up your families Instagram feed. Stick around until the end to catch the firework display where ‘the bigger the better’ is definitely the motto.
Be sure to catch one of the nightly stage shows that are held at the Kreta Ayer Square if you want to experience traditional Chinese folk songs and dancing. Alternatively, you could visit the Esplanade for ‘Moonfest’, which in previous years has included a recital from the award-winning guzheng virtuoso Ji Wei and theatrical performances such as The Magic Lantern. Moonfest also holds workshops such as DIY snowskin mooncakes and lantern-making so you are sure to find something new and fun to try.
And if you’ve got time to fit anything else in make sure you explore the lantern displays at Gardens by the Bay or if you’re travelling with kids, a school holiday picnic at Jurong Central Park is a great way to spend the afternoon with bouncy castles, musical performances and lantern walks keeping the whole family entertained.
Just keep an eye on those mooncakes, who knows what messages are hidden inside.
- Get there: Fly to Singapore then take a taxi to the city centre.
- Stay: Book accommodation in the city centre so you can travel around easily.
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